Making the Digital Switch
The Schiele Group started out 50 years ago as a small basement operation that has grown to become a three-division, $25-million commercial printing company guided by tradition, craftsmanship and technology in the Midwest. Originally founded by Henry Schiele in 1948 with a one-color sheetfed press, a hand-lever paper cutter, a desk and a phone, the company now consists of three parts: a web division (Repro Graphics), a sheetfed division (Schiele Graphics) and a prepress division (Compo Graphics), and boasts some of the most technologically advanced printing equipment in the world, including a family of Fujifilm products that were installed recently. Now, part of Schiele's mission is to digitize and educate customers about the benefits of CTP.
Over the half-century that Schiele Group has operated, it has progressed from a barbershop to a multi-plant organization; from sales of $12,500 to more than $10 million last year; and from one employee to 80 employees—one- third of whom have been employed at the company for more than 25 years. But the heavy traditionalism of the company meant that breaking new, digital ground would be no small feat, although over the years, Schiele Group maintained a firm mission to always upgrade when needed. For instance, as early as the 1990s, the Schiele Group invested in two six-color MANRoland 700 series presses.
More recently, the company purchased a Fujifilm PictroProof digital proofer, a Sumo Luxel F-9000 imagesetter, a Dart Luxel T-6000 CTP four-up format platesetter and is in the market for a Javelin Luxel T-9000 CTP eight-up format platesetter, reports Chris Fernandez, Compo Graphics' division manager. He says the Dart, which was installed as part of the web division's CTP transition, worked so well and the transition went so smoothly that the company decided to invest in an eight-up device for its sheetfed division, which will make the full digital switch by this fall. Fernandez says that the process has been successful in part to communication and education. The company has also already made a move to educate their customers on the value of the digital process.