Mid-York Press defines and refines its short-run business model using both offset and digital printing technologies.November 2011 By Jean-Marie Hershey
What does it mean to be a short-run packaging printer? At a minimum, integrating short print runs into an overall business plan typically requires an investment in employee training and education, as well as the implementation of lean manufacturing/continuous improvement concepts. It may or may not entail the purchase of additional equipment, but whether the equipment in question is offset or digital, regular preventive maintenance is a must to keep it in top working order. The overall aim of each and every one of these measures is to maximize efficiencies and reduce or eliminate the waste associated with an increase in the number of job setups.
Mid-York Press in Sherburne, N.Y. considers itself a market leader among short-run package printers. Established in 1828, the company was, until 1982, a self-described "general commercial printer with a small packaging sideline." Under the leadership of its current President and CEO Bob Tenney, however, Mid-York by 1995 had made a transition to folding cartons almost exclusively, with a focus on short-run production.
Establishing a short-run niche
There were some growing pains. For example, Tenney said, "We had only half-size presses when we got into the packaging business, and we couldn't compete with our 40˝ brethren on long runs. So we went after private label manufacturers first, and built the business in that direction." Today, Mid-York is a highly specialized supplier to the pharmaceutical (80 percent) and cosmetic (20 percent) industries nationwide, with a well-established, short-run niche.
"We do pharma for large, U.S.-based companies like Bayer, supplying their smaller, foreign markets," Tenney said. "This permits us to stay in our short-run niche. Now, of course, we have 40˝ capacity ourselves and also can be competitive on longer runs, provided we feel they will be profitable for us."
The company operates both offset and digital equipment, including a newly installed, UV-capable, Heidelberg Speedmaster CX 102 with Intellistart, Pressroom Manager integration, and Axis Control measurement and control system for quality assurance, as well as a Xerox iGen4 with inline aqueous or UV coater. Mid-York chose the Speedmaster CX 102 for its familiar format. "We wanted to retain the same plate size we use on our Speedmaster CD 102s," Tenney said.
"The iGen enables us to run short-run folding cartons up to 9,000 pieces at lower cost with variable data when necessary," Tenney explained. "The rest go on the big presses." That said, "We rarely run full lifts," he added.