What used to be a craft that required long apprenticeships and union membership is now the domain of techno-geeks and graphic designers.
"You have to love the technology," says Michelle Toivonen of Genie Repros Inc.
Print shops that haven't embraced the changes have become casualties of a sweeping consolidation of the industry. "Watching so many other printers fold, we knew we had to either get ahead or get out of the business," says Toivonen.
Besides the huge capital investment many printers have made in publishing, graphics and printing software, cutting-edge shops like Genie are putting their pre-press and archiving departments online.
Even with the advent of high-tech publishing software, a lot of time is lost during the proofing and correction process. In response, Genie Repros' management decided to take a leap many other local printers haven't, and put its operations online.
"The site itself is easy to use," says Toivonen. "Anyone with an Internet connection and a browser can use it."
Clients can proof jobs online, make corrections, make repeat orders and access a previous job's digital files.
This has been imperative for Genie Repros, says Toivonen, because most clients expect the turnaround on a four-color job to be a few days, not a few weeks.
"The proofing process is where we see the most time savings," says Toivonen. "A lot of time is saved in getting the files in ... Before, a job would come on disk, and if something was wrong or missing, we would have to start all over."
Toivonen estimates the new technology has cut production time by 31 percent and allowed the company to keep its staff relatively small while increasing output.
"Our records show a 20.7 percent increase in overall sales this year over last year," says Toivonen.
But she admits that one of the largest benefits of the new site is to prove that this business, which was once an Old World craft, isn't afraid of New World technology. How to reach: Genie Repros Inc., (216) 696-6677