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Seal the Deal

Leveraging a long-term customer relationship saves a commercial printer time, shipping fees, and labor costs.

Large printed posters are staples in the marketing communications and advertising spheres. From movie theaters to tradeshow booths, posters announce things such as new products and developments, exciting entertainment opportunities, and even directions to a banquet room or convention floor. But those flashy posters don’t just magically appear. They need to be printed and shipped to customers, and they must include all of the necessary components to be sure the poster is displayed as intended.

When you’re the commercial printer tasked with ensuring the swift and cost-efficient delivery of tens of thousands of posters—and the kitting items and printed materials that go along with them—you remain open to methods of completing the job in a way that exceeds customer expectations. And Millcraft, a 96-year-old independent distributor of paper and packaging, headquartered in Cleveland, proved to be the missing piece to the poster-packaging puzzle.

The Background

The commercial printer had acquired new business fulfilling large posters, which included kits of assembly supplies such as display banners and electrical ties. With a demand of nearly 20,000 kits per week, the need to create and ship the kits in a timely manner—and with as little manpower as possible—was imperative. Realizing that fulfillment production speeds of only one to two bags per minute were creating a bottleneck for the commercial printer, Millcraft leveraged its strong relationship with the customer, and the diverse backgrounds of its sales and equipment specialists, to propose a solution that would improve kit assembly production times, saving money and increasing efficiencies.

The Problem

The printer had been assembling kits by hand using premade bags. Due to the size of the project and the less-than-two-week turnaround time requested by its customer, they had employed as many as a dozen temporary workers to get the job done. Opening the premade bags and inserting the kitting supplies was both tedious and labor-intensive. Output was not efficient, and the printer faced the possibility of extensive overnight shipping charges in order to deliver the job to their customer on time.

The Solution

Calling on the consultative history with the commercial printer, Millcraft representatives revisited a prior recommendation of using existing conveyor equipment as part of a new layout design within the production facilities. Next, in adding an L-sealer machine with a center-folded film to the process, the customer could make its own bags and improve production. With previous projects, this recommendation might not have resulted in an adequate ROI, but the new poster job was the perfect fit.

The machine and film were immediately ordered, and Millcraft was able to deliver, install, and test the equipment three days before the winter holidays. Workers were also trained during this time, ensuring that the customer’s tight delivery requirements would be met and extensive overnight shipping and temporary manpower costs avoided.

The Results

With the newly designed layout including the L-sealer machine and conveyor, the printer was able to produce the poster kits four to five times faster than when workers manually opened the bags and inserted materials inside. The printer easily met its 20,000-poster requirement without the need to hire temporary workers. ROI was quick and easy; the manpower savings alone have justified the equipment savings in less than a year.

By leveraging its solid business relationship and transitioning this long-term, valued customer from bags to sealing film, Millcraft has ensured that the commercial printer can take on quick-turn, high-production projects like this again and again. What’s more, Millcraft will also stock this film to be used on future jobs, providing additional savings to the customer.

Millcraft’s desire to truly help the printer exceed its customer’s expectations is what partnership consulting is all about. After all, when everybody wins, everybody wins.

*In this case study, the customer’s name and the name of its client have been removed due to the competitive nature of their businesses.


By Liberty Kontranowski