On occasion, Ebert notes, one of the publication's staff members will travel to Kentucky for a press check, but, she adds, her confidence in the printer's ability allows her to restrict those visits to once or twice a year, usually planned concurrently with the printer's installation of new equipment.
The dollars and sense of customer service
Having Gonzales-Acord on-site during production is just one example Ebert provides with regard to the prepress provider's willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.
Depending on environment, past protocol and corporate mandates, many magazine publishers occasionally find themselves shopping for vendors on price alone. This was not the case for TP&W, according to Ebert, who values first-class customer service as much as competitive pricing.
"When you're out shopping for vendors, you have to keep foremost in your mind the organic makeup of your staff and your organization," Ebert remarks. "In our case, it was possible to go out and bid contracts based on price, but not having the production capabilities in house that we needed, customer service was a very strong part of my consideration." Fortunately, both vendors were price competitive, as well.
"We look for the kind of printing and prepress partners that are going to be able to help us fill in the gaps," Ebert explains. "Publishers Press has a dedicated customer training facility. … They also produce a detailed production guidebook that instructs us on every part of the production process. It walks us through every step we need to take to allow them to print well."
On the horizon
As TP&W continues its efforts to become self-sustaining and even more profitable, Ebert and her colleagues will continue to look to new technologies to streamline workflow and save money.
Recently, ink-jet capabilities have allowed the magazine to add value to one of its insertions. Using personalized "inside/outside ink-jet labels," a campaign for Chevy's Suburban yielded great success. "The response from that promotion doubled Chevy's expectations," Ebert exclaims.