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Changing dynamics have created opportunities for high quality printers, executive says

Metro printing companies investing in new technology

While most print shops in metro Jackson are thriving, Master Graphics, parent company of Ridgeland-based Hederman Brothers Printing, continues to tread financially choppy waters.

On Jan. 21, Memphis-based Master Graphics, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAGR), was delisted from the stock market because of its inability to satisfy the maintenance standards for the continued listing, but the common stock continues to be quoted and traded on the OTC Bulletin Board.

“Our business continues to be fantastic,” said Dyann Gunter, a 15-year account executive for Hederman Brothers.

“The changing dynamics have created opportunities and transitions for high quality printers in this market,” said John Welch, president and CEO of K&W Inc. in Jackson. “Service is the key differentiator that brings success.”

K&W Inc. was established in 1983 as a color-separation trade shop doing film work for advertising agencies, freelance art directors and corporations.

Jay Hill, vice president of Service Printers, a Jackson-based company established more than 30 years ago, said their business has “definitely increased, though not for one particular reason.”

“We have had to invest more money in new technology, but we have been really fortunate because we’ve benefited from the changes that have occurred in the Jackson market,” said Hill, who added that Service Printers recently acquired $2 million in press and pre-press equipment.

Duke Cain, president and owner of Cain Lithographers, said the four-generation commercial printing company, opened in 1952, has grown significantly — partly because of changes in the marketplace.

“The most disturbing change is the number of printing companies that have closed in the past few months,” he said. “At the same time, locally-owned companies have grown.”

The closure of Blackwell Lithographers “has allowed everyone to prosper,” said Chris Fudge, president and CEO, of ASAP Printing & Copying in Jackson. “If we had gotten into four-color a little earlier, we probably would have gotten a lot more of the overflow, but we have picked up a few accounts, no doubt.”

Last week, ASAP Printing & Copying, established in 1994, broke ground on a 7,000-square-foot addition to their new 5,000-square-foot facility on Lakeland Drive in Jackson. The print shop opened in downtown Jackson primarily serving the litigation copy market when their business boomed.

“The bottom line is service,” he said. “When customers make requests, we don’t mislead them. We tell them if we can or we can’t do the job when they need it. Then, if we contract to do it, we do it beyond their expectations. That’s the secret.”

A customer service staff backs up account executives at Hederman Brothers, said Gunter.

The Internet plays a larger role in marketing efforts, Welch said.

“The graphics houses that can take advantages of those technologies rather than see them as a competing medium will be the most successful,” he said. “The relationship between the Web and print and other media is really changing dynamics.” Jackson-based K&W Inc. now lists more than 100 employees, with sales offices in Atlanta and Birmingham, a pre-press plant in Baton Rouge, opened in 1986, and two new acquisitions. A packaging facility in Fayetteville, Ark. and a printing company in Baton Rouge were purchased last year. In 1995, 21,000 square feet were added to the Jackson location.

“Our intentions are to centralize both Baton Rouge facilities into one,” said John Abbate, vice president of sales and marketing at K&W Inc. “A lot of our success comes from the fact that we’re basically just a hard-working company with a whatever-it-takes attitude. A lot of our customers realize that we’ll go the extra mile.”

Six to eight years ago, Jackson was a small printing market, said Chuck Buffington, general manager at Mac Papers.

“Since then, we’ve more than tripled the capacity for printing in the market,” he said.

Five years ago, Mac Papers opened a small branch in Jackson. Today, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company operates its Jackson market from a 37,250-square-foot facility in Pearl that opened last year, where about 20 employees work with $1.5 million in inventory. The $400-million company, the largest independent distributor of paper in the Southeast with locations in eight southern states, recently purchased D&W Paper Co. in New Orleans, the largest independent distributor in Louisiana, said Buffington, a native Jacksonian.

“The printers themselves have raised the level of quality in printing in Jackson by getting more expert at what they’re doing, moving into the 21st century with digital presses,” he said. “For Jackson, Miss., that’s not bad.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com or mbj@msbusiness.com.

About Lynne W. Jeter

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