Xerox 800 brings big change to Bender.

November 15, 2011 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

For Dave Bender, owner of St. Louis-based Bender, Inc., the key to being a successful printer isn’t about quality. It’s not about implementing a new brand of plates, it’s not about installing a more robust workflow solution, and it’s not about diversifying your business model. For Bender, it’s much simpler than all of that. His advice: talk.

“If you’re changing, if your business is changing, and if you’re not communicating that change to your employees, you’re going to have problems and you’re going to lose good, key people. You’ve got to talk to them about what’s changing, why it’s changing, and what it means to them,” Bender explains.

And change is something that’s inevitable. To survive the current economic environment, printers across the country are changing. They’re adding new capabilities, they’re reaching out to new customers, and they are adjusting their business models. But not all of them are communicating those changes with all of their employees and, according to Bender, that’s a huge mistake.

“Everyone that works for us is in sales,” he explains. “We have people dedicated to selling, but everyone is in sales. Our CSRs need to be salespeople, too. They have to understand our company, know where it’s headed and be able to share our corporate story and beliefs with everyone they come into contact with.”

Changing directions

Earlier this year, Bender, Inc. ventured deeper into digital printing, adding a Xerox® Color 800 Press from FUJIFILM Graphic Systems Division. The company had been doing some digital work previously, but saw the opportunities growing and eventually made the decision to bring in a larger, more advanced device. “We did a really thorough review of all of our options and, ultimately, decided on the Xerox 800,” he says. “The Xerox 800 was more like a press, and not a copier, and the quality was incredibly impressive. We knew we were going to be able to move a lot of our work to that device and, obviously, cut down on our makeready.

“The 800 also allows us to run a heavier cover weight than other devices and we’re able to run quite a wide variety of substrates, including magnet stock and label stock for example,” says Bender.

The decision to go further into digital printing was a conscious one and one that Bender believes is key for the survival of his company. For him, it’s the next phase. And, while that decision can be a significant change for many printers, it’s been a smooth process for Bender’s 42 employees. And, of course, he credits communication.

“We’ve made communication of change an unwavering priority here and have reaped the benefits,” Bender says.

Talk to me

Those benefits speak for themselves. In the 21 years since Bender, Inc. (formerly Bender Graphics) was founded by Bender’s father, Jack, the company has never experienced a decrease in sales. “We’ve been very lucky and we’ve worked very hard and we’ve been able to watch our sales grow, year after year after year,” he says.

Bender gives a lot of credit to his dad and the two appear to share business philosophies. Bender and his partners took the company over from his dad in 2005 and have continued to invest, to seek out new opportunities, and, like his dad, to add new capabilities and more space.

Today, in addition to traditional offset printing and digital printing, Bender, Inc. also offers signage and other wide format services, order fulfillment and warehousing, as well as direct mail solutions – a lot of change for a shop that has its roots in printing small community newspapers.

Times are a-changin’

The most recent change came with the decision to delve deeper into digital printing. And, for help with that, Bender and his team turned to Fujifilm. Already an existing Fujifilm customer, Bender says he wanted to work with Fujifilm on the bigger transition to digital because of the company’s knowledge and expertise in the offset world. “We wanted to be able to tie our offset work to our digital work and we wanted a company who understood and who could help us do that,” he explains. “The Xerox 800 is an incredible device and is very powerful. Couple that with Fujifilm’s expertise and you’ve got a powerhouse combination. We’re still an offset shop and I wanted an offset expert. That’s why we went with Fujifilm.”

Once again, the benefits are speaking for themselves.

Although the Xerox 800 has been on the company’s floor for just three months, Bender says it’s already running non-stop. “Not only have I been able to bring in additional jobs, but I’ve also been able to move a lot of my work from my offset press,” he reports. He’s moved so much work that his 6-color half-size perfecting press is now for sale.

“The 800 has pretty much taken the place of that press,” he says, noting the obvious change in the business model. “I can accept a wider variety of jobs and even make some money on smaller jobs like business cards that I wasn’t able to before.” As a result, Bender and his team are happy with their decision and, of course, continue to communicate the changes to the rest of the company.

But Bender isn’t relying solely on digital printing for the growth of the company. Bender, Inc. has also expanded into wide format printing with a Fujifilm Acuity, while also keeping one foot planted firmly in offset.

“We’re doing this to drive offset. That was difficult to understand at first, but now everyone seems to get it,” he says. “They know how this will impact our company and, more importantly, their jobs and they’re on board – and we’re poised and ready for another year of growth.”