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KBF: Making the transition to digital printing

June 2, 2008
If area residents want personalized invitations, announcements or other printed materials and if businesses need brochures or catalogues personalized for their customers, KBF Print Technology is where they can go to get what they need.

KBF Print Technology, 227 Academy Street, is the sales subsidiary of Data Papers and its six sales executives sell the printed products manufactured at the Data Papers plant, 468 Industrial Park Road.

But if a customer comes to KBF with a request that Data Papers can’t manufacture, they can outsource and make sure the customers get what they need.

Jerry Wertz, president and Chief Executive Officer, of the companies, said they needed to diversify so they could continue to grow.

The company used to primarily print traditional business forms, such as multiple-part carbon paper sets and has now moved toward more modern commercial and digital printing including personalized advertising specialty printing.

“Three years ago, we looked at our company and saw a tenuous future in light of computer technology and internet commerce,” Wertz said. “We decided that we could either stay the course and slowly fade away, or evolve and prosper. We chose the latter.”

And because the company has diversified, it has experienced a more than 10 percent increase, although the printing industry has been declining by 5 percent per year for the past decade, according to Wertz.

“In the past three years we have invested in a high speed eight color commercial press and a seven color digital press to meet the new demands of our customers,” Wertz said.

One of the most unique things about the company that it is an ESOP company, meaning it is an employee owned company.

After each year, employees are given a certain amount of stock which is equivalent to how much they have earned that year.

And because the company is employee owned, each one has a stake in its future.

“Once people begin working here, they usually stay here,” Wertz said. “The average employee has been here 20 years.”

Wertz said the employees were behind the transition to digital printing, because they knew it would make the company better in the long run.

The company recently purchased a Hewlett Packard Indigo 5500 printer which gives it the ability to print personalized products, such as postcards and college catalogues, which are customized for each individual recipient.

The printer even has it’s own environmentally controlled room that helps it perform to the best of its ability.

Tom Martino, Indigo press operator said he went to Andover, Mass. to learn how to operate the machine.

Martino explained the printer is hooked into a computer that can feed off of a database, which aides in the personalization.

The printer is so large that it does not use a toner cartridge but actual ink in the colors of cyan, magenta, yellow and black that are held inside the printer and create all the colors of the color spectrum.

One of the biggest advantages of the printer is that the amount of set up time for the projects is decreased and the computer can be programmed to include postage and the company will even mail items.

“This press is very high quality and can be used for small quantities and there is very little set up time and waste,” Martino said.

The machine has a lot of flexibility because it can print on all types of material such as vinyl, magnet and adhesive material.

“If a potential college student is interested in accounting and wants to play baseball at a local university, we can send him a custom personalized brochure that address just those items, as opposed to sending the same 50-page catalogue to every student being recruited,” Wertz said.

Wertz said that the brochures or postcards can also be supplemented with personal Web pages, known as PURLSs, which are created for each targeted recipient, allowing the potential customer to get further information online.

“The turnaround time for the orders, depend of the type of order,” Wertz said. “If it is something digital, that can be turned around in a couple days or one day if they really need it.”

Wertz said traditional business forms take a little longer to produce and take about a week to two weeks to get orders back to the customers.

Wertz said he knows that the company will continue to grow, and be able to offer products that meet customers’ individual needs.

Sampling of local customers:

Jiffy Lube

Little League Baseball



Bastian Tire

Pickelner Fuel

Citizens & Northern Bank

Article Photos

Tom Martino, Hewlett Packard Indigo 5500 press operator and Keith Bennett,
Information Technology manger work at the Indigo press to prepare an order for a customer.



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