Colt presses on after buying Estey
The two print shops used slightly different equipment and often sent work to each other over the years, said Jim Colt, owner of Colt Print Services, but after 59 years in the printing business, Estey president Bill Hayes wanted to retire. He turned to Colt for help.
“We’ve talked for years, and he knew that I made this work several times in the past very successfully,” Colt said. Colt plans to seamlessly integrate Estey customers into his company using existing files and artwork carefully transferred.
The Estey acquisition is the eighth successful incorporation for Colt Print Services since its inception in 1975, Colt said. The company offers both business printing and commercial digital printing, something unusual in the industry, he said. The most recent merger will bring 300 new customers to Colt. Colt Print Services does $3 million to $4 million in business each year, and the Estey acquisition could add $1 million in business per year.
“It’s a pretty significant increase,” Colt said.
The print shop employs 25 employees and is roughly the 50th largest printer in the nation, he said. To facilitate a smooth transition for Estey customers, long-time Estey general manager Lauri Weaver moved to Colt as well.
“She’s a nice addition to the Colt family,” said Brenda Hittle, customer service manager for Colt Print Services. Hittle began working in the industry as a youngster at her father’s print shop, which Colt acquired in 2002. She’s worked for Colt ever since. She’s watched the company adapt to a rapidly changing industry, often on the leading edge of new technology.
Colt offers traditional offset printing on a press, but also has an array of digital options from black-and-white to state-of-the-art digital color. It installed a Xerox iGen4 digital color press in December. It runs six days a week in a humidity-controlled room. A full-time employee keeps the machine humming smoothly. The press emulates a traditional offset machine, using toner without the sheen that typically identifies digital printing.
The digital press can print on textured paper, shaking the ink into the surface grooves for a quality end result often unavailable in a digital print. In a separate room, a cluster of black-and-white printers run 24 hours a day to meet clients’ needs and provide quick turnaround, Colt said.
Colt offers other industry advances.
“The big trend today is variable data printing,” Colt said. Variable data printing allows clients to customize each mailing to individual customers. Whether it’s bound insurance plans specific to each policy holder, real estate brochures or mailings sporting an addressee’s name, it’s a business decision that makes sense, Colt said.
“The return rate is five to 10 times higher on a mailing where the name appears on the outside,” he said. “It’s much more personalized and sophisticated.”
Colt offers traditional offset printing, too – something that can be cheaper for larger orders.
“If you want 500, it’s almost always cheaper to print on digital,” Colt said. “If it’s 10,000, it’s cheaper to do traditional offset.” Traditional printing also allows clients to create colors specific to their company’s brand and not replicable on a digital machine.
Colt clients can use the company’s Rapid ReOrder department, too, a trademarked system developed by Colt in the 70s. The shop stores samples of previous jobs along with all pertinent information for reprints with an order number. Clients receive a binder with the same information, then can call or email for reprints of past jobs, such as envelopes, purchase orders and letterhead. It makes follow-up jobs fast, accurate and easy for clients when someone new begins to do the ordering, Hittle said.
“Customers love it,” she said. “I have clients who swear by it ... and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”
Additionally, Colt’s onsite binding department completes everything from plastic coil to fold-and-stitch booklets or paperback book binding. Both can be done in black-and-white or color. The print shop works with a range of clients from self-published authors to local businesses, such as Sounds True, local grocery chains and area governmental organizations.
Colt Print Services also offers custom online business portals, another industry trend, Colt said. Custom portals allow people to log in and order business cards in less than a minute, complete with an instant online proof. Customers can order in the evening and pick up cards the next morning in the store, saving on shipping as well, Colt said.
“The biggest cost of business cards is typesetting,” he said, “and this greatly reduces the cost and increases the speed.”
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