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Inking a critical deal Featured

10:07am EDT July 22, 2002

How did the idea to lease space to your supplier surface?

The sales rep from INX International Ink brought [the planned closing] to the attention of our plant manager. We didn’t want to have to go through this huge learning curve and experimentation with another ink manufacturer, and plus the local supply is key. There are other manufacturers, some in Cleveland and different areas, but having it right here is key to us. [Our other choices] are all out of town, or they were at the time, and that was just a serious timing and service issue for us.

What adjustments did you have to make to provide space for INX?

We’d recently reconfigured the whole plant ... and that had given us some space. They said they only needed 800 square feet, which isn’t a lot, and we happened to have almost exactly that in a little corner.

We built a wall and insulated it. They put in the phone lines. We added some lighting ... and we sealed the floor and painted the walls. Because of having our own people do all of that work, the cost to us was minimal—just the materials.

What are the terms of the agreement?

They pay us $800 a month for the space, and basically there is no set time-frame in the contract. I think we both wanted the flexibility. If they happened to increase their business, they may be able to go back to their own space. And if we needed the space, then we could do the same.

Did you have any concerns in setting up the lease arrangement?

Probably the biggest concern was the one over their employees. What if somebody got hit by a forklift, or even tripped and fell over a skid? Anything can happen. Those issues were big concerns. Are we covered? Are they going to carry coverage? They supplied me with information on their insurance. I checked with our insurance company. We were covered as a backup, but they do carry the insurance, and that was part of the lease agreement. That made the attorney happy, and that made me happy.

What benefits do you gain from having your ink-supplier on-site?

Probably the most important one is when we have clients in for press checks.

That happens on a daily basis, and maybe there are some key special-mix inks and the customer doesn’t quite like the ink when they actually see it on the printed piece. Previously you may have had to ... try and mix another element into the ink to change the color, so it takes our pressman’s time. The press is shut down, the customer is waiting, and we may hit or miss. Now the ink technician comes right around the corner, up on the press, maybe mixes it right in the fountain, or worst case, takes it out of the fountain and back to their room and remills it and then brings it back. So the time factor and getting it right the first time in a lot of cases helps. When those presses are maybe $250 to $300 an hour, and it’s just sitting there, that can add up fast. It saves us time and money, and it saves the customer money.

What have you and the supplier learned from seeing each other’s work first hand?

It’s interesting to see the process they go through.

They have commented on several occasions on things they’ve learned. An ink company mixes the ink, and they never see it again. They don’t see the end project and they don’t see the process it goes through. Being on site, they see everything that the pressman can go through at times.