The relationship between Xerox – along with its business platinum partner Compleo and Brits Printers is extensive. The necessity to offer customers high quality, smaller print runs for pamphlets, magazines and promotional materials or risk turning away business prompted Brits Printers to turn to Xerox and Compleo.
Brits Printers owner Susan Honiball joined the business in 1987 as its accountant, and was offered shares in 2001 by then owner Japie Steenkamp. Up until then, the business had been a litho-only shop. In 2005, Steenkamp and Honiball decided to experiment with a digital printer, and invested in a Xerox DocuColor 250 to run alongside their assembly of lithographic machines. Since then, Brits Printers has taken full advantage of the digital revolution in the printing industry and has made radical changes in their print communications.
‘Be the best at what you do and you will have a strong and loyal customer base’, said Honiball. That is the formula that has worked for Brits Printers since the company started doing business in the North-Western Province of Brits, way back in 1948.
In 2010, the company expanded and relocated from its original premises to a modern factory in the heart of the town. After Steenkamp retired in 2013, Brits Printers became a family-owned business and Honiball’s husband, joined the company. A year later, their daughter Catinka van der Walt also came on board, convincing her parents through her financial background and business savvy, that the only way to survive in a fast-growing, rapidly evolving print industry, was to go totally digital. Brits Printers consequently added a D125, a Xerox C550, a WorkCentre 5855, a Xerox C75 and most recently, the Versant 80 Colour Press
‘We were first introduced to the Versant Colour Press by Chris Stoltz, sales director of Compleo at a print expo,’ said van der Walt. ‘I was so impressed with its capability that I used to dream about owning it. We decided to make the investment and it has more than paid off for us. There’s a saying in the print industry that ink runs in our veins, and I believe it’s true. The business is so close to our hearts, and our relationship with Compleo and Xerox has enabled us to fulfil our commitment to our clients in a manner that we are extremely proud of.’
‘The journey to digital was slow at first, and I admit I was a bit sceptical,’ said Susan Honiball, but it soon became clear that we were securing new clients, increasing the work from current clients and increasing client retention because of our digital offering.
Since our first Xerox purchase, Chris Stoltz has become a trusted advisor to the business and the level of service provided by Compleo is exceptional. If we run out of ink on a Saturday morning, he will be here to deliver. If ever we have a crisis, he is always there with a solution.’
The benefits of digital printing differs radically from traditional, analogue printing and we can optimise and maximise all the opportunities. We have faster turnarounds as the initial setup time is vastly reduced and we can get our prints out quicker than with offset printing. The level of accuracy is also greater and it is easy to control and manage colours, registration, print properties, and achieve perfect resolution.
‘There has been a big shift in the way our customers think about printing,’ Honiball said. ‘Where printed material was once the only means of communication, today it is just one among many. As a result, customers are printing less.
We wanted to capitalise on the digital revolution and the change in customer mindsets, and can satisfy a broader range of clients’ communication needs.’
‘This is the way the market is going,’ van der Walt added. ‘We’re embracing these trends and ensuring that we can offer our clients the services that they need in ways that allow them to interact with us – how they want it, and on their terms.’
Brits Printers is now ideally placed to take advantage of the demand for short print runs and help its customers personalise their marketing and other communication elements. The business has achieved this in three ways:
1. Understanding that commercial printing is transitioning from a manufacturing to a service business, the company now offers a broader range of marketing and communication services for its clients, with a strong focus on value-added digital solutions.
2. Investing in technology to support profitable growth has seen the company move to a digital infrastructure, with Xerox digital presses and workflow software. It is also expanding into higher-margin design and composition work as a result of its investment in digital technology.
3. Capitalising on the right opportunities by acknowledging the demand for short-run, on-demand and personalised print runs.
Since the acquisition of the Xerox Versant, the business’s additional capacity has resulted in an increase of more than 50% in productivity. Now clients can access enhanced image quality and more variety for their digital print solutions. The Versant offers advanced automation, versatile substrate ranges, larger sheet sizes and simple operations – all delivered on an amazingly small footprint.
It is one of the industry’s only presses to offer Ultra-HD Resolution, a true differentiator that preserves and renders more of the fine details in graphic fills, sweeps, line art and text. Features like Simple Image Quality Adjustment take the trial-and-error guesswork out of many colour management, image quality and page registration functions.
‘It is helping us to maintain our reputation for excellence and accuracy, while reducing waste and errors,’ said Honiball.
The exceptional 80-ppm print speed raises the bar for entry-level presses. Substrate flexibility was also a key factor for Bits Printers, and the press accommodates heavier stocks, while automated controls enable the users to achieve high quality regardless of stock type. Envelopes can be printed without the special handling required on most digital presses in this class, saving considerable time and money.
To accelerate productivity even further, Brits Printers uses Xerox’s Fiery Workflow Suite, which enables fully integrated workflows from job submission and business management to scheduling, preparation, and production. The suite includes applications for job submission, prepress, make-ready, colour profiling and management, personalisation, and output management.
‘In addition to being faster and cheaper to run than other machines in its class, the Versant has enabled us to cut outsourcing, as we now have the capacity to keep all printing in-house with the C75 running alongside the Versant.
Brits Printers meets the needs of a diverse range of customers and recently won the tender to print 600,000 textbooks for an educational institution. Other major clients are from the mining sector, the farming community, the nuclear industry, schools and local businesses based in Brits and the surrounding areas including Pretoria and Johannesburg.
‘We place an enormous focus on customer service and care,’ said Honiball. ‘Our commitment to customers is to deliver a quality product, on time and according to their needs. Is a small town like Brits, you simply cannot afford to make mistakes. Excellent customer service is vital to maintain a solid reputation.’
Brits Printers employs 21 staff, including four graphic designers. ‘To give you an example of how much our environment has changed over the years since the move to digital, when a customer comes in today to place an order for business cards, they sit down with one of the designers, explain what they are looking for, and then walk out with the finished product an hour later. That is the beauty of digital. We like to call it ‘drive-through’ printing,’ said van der Walt.
Asked why the business decided on Xerox, Honiball said, ‘The fact is that we did not choose Xerox – Xerox chose us. We experimented with another brand several years ago, but the print quality was simply not the same. We eventually retired that machine and we have remained loyal to Xerox ever since.’
The company now has its sights on the Xerox Iridesse, and looking to the future with Xerox. The Iridesse has an innovative design that consolidates the best characteristics of the iGen series into a single, ultimately configurable platform, with additional colour choices to better meet customer needs.
‘By doing our very best, we are seeing the business grow and the Xerox Iridesse is on our list for the future as we continue to expand and to broaden our offering,’ confirmed van der Walt. ‘People say that business is tough now, but we have found that when you work harder and sell harder, you can ensure that your company will grow. With Xerox on board, we are even more certain of meeting our growth objectives.’