Questions? Call Us!

(781) 961-1800

Pushing the Envelope Beyond Ordinary

Tyvek Envelopes Can Help Offset Postal Increases – (part 2)

Posted by Jerry Velona on Apr 14, 2014 11:35:00 AM

In my In my previous post, I recapped the current travails of our Postal Service.   It’s fashionable I suppose to regard the Post Office as some relic of a benighted past before all the wonderful digital machines were invented. Yes, there’s no doubt that the USPS suffers from the same type of bureaucratic/political sclerosis that infects most government-run entities.  There’s a built-in bias against change; especially as it relates to staffing levels.  This makes it less nimble and able to adapt to an ever-changing economy which in a nutshell is why they find themselves grossly in debt and struggling to make the necessary adjustments.

While all the political machinations can be interesting (or tedious), those of us in businesses that in some way rely on a functioning post office are, unlike government, forced to deal with the reality of pleasing customers and making a buck.  So how do we cope with increasing postal rates and still “get the mail out”?

One way is to incorporate Tyvek envelopes into the mix.  Now I hear you screaming, “But Tyvek is soooo expensive!”  Well, calm down my friend.  Yes, Tyvek is a lot more expensive than regular paper envelopes but it has one property that makes it well worth considering for mailings; it’s lighter than paper. It’s not only lighter, but a lot lighter; so much so that it can make up for all of the increased cost and then some in reduced mailing costs as the chart below shows.      

 describe the image

 Dupont’s Tyvek has been around for many years and has a reputation for durability and functionality in the mailing world. It’s virtually impossible to tear which makes it ideal for mailing anything that has rough or sharp edges; like a spiral bound booklet for instance.  It’s also water resistant which ensures it will hold up and look better when delivered especially if it’s raining!

Tyvek also has a smooth finish and has a more upscale look and feel than regular paper. It carries a message for the recipient that the sender believes strongly enough in what he’s sending to have spent a little extra which can never hurt.

And, perhaps surprisingly, Tyvek is 100% recyclable. A nationwide recycling program collects used envelopes and recycles them into other useful materials. Tyvek itself is contains an average of 10% post-industrial waste content.

So while there may be nothing we can do to help the Post Office except perhaps contact our elected representatives and urge them to do something, you can take matters in your hands to improve the bottom line on your next large envelope mailing.

Topics: direct mail, post office, elite envelope, post office problems, direct mail solutions, tyvek envelopes, tyvek mailing advantages

Post Office Drama Continues - Any Direct Mail Solutions? (Part 1)

Posted by Jerry Velona on Mar 27, 2014 2:06:00 PM

 

Elite Envelope & Graphics, Direct Mail Solutions,

As you're probably aware, the US Postal Service raised the rate of a first class letter by 3 cents on Jaunuary 24th 2014.  I say “probably” since fewer people are relying on first class mail delivery these days although the number of those who do is still substantial.

This was the largest single increase in a while. Typically the increases have been in the penny range. The main reason for this is because it’s such an ordeal for the Postal Service to get any kind of rate increase or service reduction through the excruciating bureaucratic and congressional oversight process. After going through all the necessary motions, the wisdom is to make the increase as small as possible for appearance sake. 

An example of the ridiculous hoops the USPS has to jump through is that, according to, CNN Money, The Postal Regulatory Commission only approved the recent increase for two years at which point they will have to re-evaluate it. Given the amount of red-ink in which the Service currently treads, does anyone really think they will reduce the prices back to 2013 levels in 2016?  Is it really necessary to even go through that charade? Such is life in bureaucratic hell - wonder if Dante would have created a unique circle for that one.

As every business owner knows, when you’re going broke you’ve got to raise prices or cut staff or service. Since cutting staff with a government monopoly-style union is virtually impossible, cutting service or raising prices are really the only options. To be fair, the PO has been aggressively incentivizing early retirement in order to reduce payroll.  However, that also causes the very generous federal pension benefits to kick-in which I’m guessing reduces savings on a net basis. 

The USPS lost “only” $5 billion last year. That’s a lot less than in recent years; in part due to the 8% increase in parcel deliveries compared to the previous year.  But it is simply added to the debt burden incurred during those previous years as revenues are still nowhere close to where they would need to be in order to sustain the Postal behemoth. The Postal Service has been cutting back on processing facilities to account for the reported fact that nearly 2 billion fewer pieces of mail delivered in 2013 compared to 2012.  However, there are still far too many local post offices and many other ways they could and should cut back if they were allowed to truly run like the independent business they claim to be.

The spin usually given for the fiscal woes of the USPS is that Congress has forced them to fully fund their pension liability. Given the enormous amounts that will be paid out to retirees in the next few decades that seems very fiscally prudent to me. If only Congress would handle its own federal debt in such a manner; too much to ask I suppose.

No, the Post Office and Congress simply have to face the fact that mail delivery will never be what it once was. That means either allowing for privatization of the service (the best option in my opinion) or making the necessary cuts and adjustments to allow a smaller Postal Service to operate profitably and still deliver the large amounts of mail and packages it will handle for the foreseeable future.

And speaking of mail, as I’ve pointed in previous posts, the percentage of direct mail continues to increase relative to the overall mail volume. We see a lot of that at Elite Envelope and Graphics both on our envelope converting equipment and web printing side where we make and print many of the components that go inside the envelopes we produce.  Direct mail continues to be an effective way for companies to promote and sell their wares. 

But how can companies combat the higher postal rates and still mail at a competitive cost?  We have a couple of tricks up our sleeve that we’ll share in our next post. Stay tuned!  And as always, your comments are much-appreciated.

Topics: direct mail, elite envelope, envelope converting, post office problems, direct mail solutions, direct mail printing, web printing

Myths and Facts about Cold Web Printing

Posted by Jerry Velona on May 13, 2013 3:05:00 PM

Cold web printing involves rolls of uncoated stock and offset printing with no heat set units. It’s been around for a long time and has traditionally been used extensively in financial printing. With the advent of improved print units, cold webs have moved from “basic black” to printing bright process images with high quality. This has allowed cold webs to become a cost-effective alternative for all types of direct mail components.

Hillary Librot is CEO of Web Corp; Elite Envelope & Graphics’ cold web printing division. In an interview a few years ago with Boston area print maven Margie Dana (www.printbuyersinternational.com) Hillary spoke about the common misconceptions about cold web printing versus the facts.  Here are Hillary's Top 7 Myths about the Cold Web.

Myth #1:  Cold webs are only good for light copy. Registration and heavy coverage are issues.

Today's cold web presses are of a much higher quality and take advantage of today's technology. Ink and water balances are now more evenly regulated, and registration is tightly controlled by a computer.

Myth #2: Cold webs are just for letters.

Bind-in cards, wraps, and brochures of ALL configurations (4 pages and up) can be printed on cold webs. Using a 23" press, you can print a 23 x 22" sheet or an 8-page brochure, printed 4 colors with bleeds, in one pass. It goes directly to the folder to slit, nest, and fold or glue-bind in line to its final size. It's a neat 2-step process instead of 3: no cutting!

Elite Envelope Web Corp cold web printing

Myth #3: You need at least 50,000 pieces to be cost effective on a cold web.

As in all printing, you must pick the right press to do the job. Printers like Web Corp with multiple press sizes can be competitive on all quantities.

Myth #4: Cold webs are known for uncontrollable dot gain.

Cold webs WERE known for heavy, "plugged" halftones or mottled color. Today's cold webs are built so the dot gain is virtually the same as a sheet fed press. By using the correct prepress software, color and dot gain are both controlled before plates are made.

Myth #5: Your paper selections are limited with a cold web.

Cold webs were synonymous with newsprint once upon a time. Luckily, the paper industry has recognized that direct mail does not live by 50# white offset alone. There are many paper grades and colors available in a variety of roll sizes. Purchasing the right roll size for the right job allows for the best pricing. For example, 14" rolls are perfect for 8 1/2 x 14" laser letters.

 

Myth #6: Cold webs have limited inline operations.

Cold webs have the ability to do multiple perf configurations, horizontal, vertical, T or L perfs,* folding, slitting in-line, and batch counting. Letters can be slit in-line on press to their final size of 8 ½ x 11" and packed flat into cartons: one process, no cutting.  (*T perfs are used sometimes at the bottom of letters or cards so that a coupon or ID-size card can be torn off for the customer to keep. L perfs are mostly seen when doing bind-in cards where the customer is going to fill out a card and return it to the sender.)

Myth #7: Cold webs print in low line screens, which produce a grainy halftone.

In the past, cold webs used line screens as low as 85. Now we print with at least a 133 line screen and very often with a 150 or higher. The higher the line screen, the finer the resolution for halftones, color photos, and screens.

Hillary is happy to answer any questions you might have about whether cold web printing might be right for your project. Send us the components from your last direct mail project and receive our “Second Opinion” service free of charge. Just click here to get started.

As always, your comments on the above are always welcome and appreciated.

Topics: direct mail, direct mail solutions, cold web printing, direct mail printing, web printing

Elite Envelope adds printing capabilities

Posted by Jerry Velona on Oct 8, 2012 11:55:00 AM

Building picture small file

Elite Envelope & Graphics, Inc. is the full name. It’s been that way since we started the company almost nine years ago in December of 2003.  Dave and I formed Elite because at the time there was no envelope converter in greater Boston.  That came about after what was then Mailwell Envelope closed the Northeastern Envelope plant after they had purchased the company in the late 90’s.  Northeastern Envelope had been in business since the mid 1940’s. It was a family owned business located just across the street from the old Boston Garden. In the mid 80’s the Shamroth family sold the company and the new owners moved to Braintree, MA, just south of Boston.

Dave Theriault began working at Northeastern right after getting his Bachelor’s degree in Business at Babson College. He eventually became the General Manager.  I started working in sales at Northeastern in 1988 and Dave and I soon began working on some the company’s key accounts as a team.

Northeastern Envelope remained profitable and viable till the day it was closed down. The company employed around 40 and they soon became casualties of Mailwell’s inability to consolidate all the companies it bought during the dot-com boom of the mid-to-late 90’s.  Dave and I along with a couple of other Northeastern managers made Mailwell  an offer to purchase the company but we were rebuffed.

It was shortly thereafter that we decided to start Elite Envelope & Graphics to fill the void created by Northeastern’s demise.  We had a built-in pool of top-shelf staff from Northeastern who were very excited to come to work for us. They are all still with us nearly 10 years later.

Envelope converting, envelope manufacturing and envelope printing have been our core business. Most of our work comes through trade customers and resellers; much of that from printers.  We added the “Graphics” part to our name from the start as we have been able to work with our customers on their pre-converting print requirements.  One of the companies we relied on for this was Web Corp which has several cold web Didde presses one of which prints up to 8 colors.  Now, we have joined forces with Web Corp and have become one of the few companies that can supply both the printed sheets and the converted envelopes both produced under the same roof.  

The cold web presses have some limitations; the main one being the only print on uncoated stock.  The quality is excellent but not comparable to the larger sheet fed presses at most commercial printers. So, we are NOT looking to compete with those printers, many of whom are our good customers.  We simply saw this as a way to complement our existing business and make us stronger and more viable as a result.

In today’s print market, the companies that survive must be able to deliver more than one product and service. Many of our customers have gone that route. We are excited about the joint venture with Web Corp and the ability to provide many of our direct mail customers with a single-source solution for their print and envelope needs.  We will be formally announcing the merger/acquisition over the next couple of weeks and providing more information to our customers on a one-by-one basis.

We want to be around in another ten years to remark the on the continued evolution of the print market. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your comments on what we’ve done at Elite Envelope & Graphics, Inc.

Topics: direct mail, envelope manufacturing, elite envelope, envelope converting, envelope printing, direct mail solutions, cold web printing

Post Office Working to Boost Direct Mail

Posted by Jerry Velona on Oct 10, 2011 11:00:00 AM

Direct mail photo resized 600Somewhat Lost amid the statistics showing 2011 first class mail volume declining around 7% after similar or greater declines in previous years is the fact that direct mail volume has increased significantly in the past year and now represents around 48% of total mail volume.

It seems that the Post Office is finally starting to get the message that encouraging direct mail and direct mailers is the best way to boost numbers and arrest the decline in mail generally.

According to an October 6, 2011 article in the Wall Street Journal by Jennifer Levitz, the Post Office has begun to offer discounts and incentives to small businesses. One program in particular allows businesses to drop off as many as 5,000 pieces to their local post office where they will be delivered to every house on the local mail routes for 14.2 cents per piece. What is most significant about this is that, for the first time apparently, the post office is allowing the pieces to be delivered without addresses. This saves mailers the cost of buying mailing lists and ink jetting or labeling.

The article also mentions the higher rates of success for direct mail in general versus electronic mail. Direct mail will always involve higher costs than electronic mail. However, if those costs can be kept reasonable with some incentives and discounts thrown in for good measure, the higher return on investment should outweigh the costs.

Many of us have often wondered why the Post Office never offered discounts to boost direct mail during the traditional summer slow period.  I guess the current budgetary woes have caused management to focus on such common-sense solutions. Even the tax-hungry state of Massachusetts for several years now has declared a sales tax holiday for a weekend in August which has been very successful in boosting business at retail outlets.

All this is very positive but cannot take the place of the cost-cutting that must be done in order for the Post Office to stay viable.  My town of residence has three post office locations all located within a few miles of each other.  I recently sent an e mail (yes, I know…) to the person in charge of public comments urging closure of two of them.  They are facing many complaints from local residents who like the status quo as well as the postal union who can’t see why they would close branches that are allegedly “profitable”.  Doing the right thing here will be a long, tough slog for sure.

While much of the mail discussed here probably went out without envelopes, I believe that any use of direct mail is a positive for the industry overall. Let’s hope that the post office continues to operate in a business-like manner to encourage direct mail. It may be its only hope for survival.

Topics: direct mail, post office, envelopes and post office, post office problems, envelopes and the post office, direct mail solutions

Direct Mail Solutions courtesy of the Post Office

Posted by Jerry Velona on Oct 3, 2011 10:32:00 AM

I’ve been posting some items recently about the problems facing our postal system. The issues are getting much play in the press lately and more and more people are becoming aware of what many of us have known for years: the post office can’t sustain its cost structure and needs some fundamental reforms in order to survive. This is especially true in light of the decreasing volume of first class mail.

postal cartoon 

Despite its problems, the post office has many professional and conscientious staff committed to helping businesses use the mail system more effectively.  Over the past several decades, I’ve relied on the folks at the Boston Business Center for advice and assistance and they’ve been nothing but prompt, friendly and extremely helpful.   Like any large organization/bureaucracy, the post office has so many rules and regulations that it’s sometimes hard to get a straight answer on things. The folks in the Business Office always come through for me.

The Post Office is committed to technical innovation; although at a glacial pace compared to the private sector where businesses must face the competitive marketplace on a daily basis.  However, new technologies involving automation and computerization are eventually rolled out and these have helped speed the delivery of mail and keep it a competitive way to get results for direct marketers.

The latest improvement is the Intelligent Mail Barcode or Imb. This has taken the existing barcode that is simply a digital reading of the 9-digit zip code and added additional characters which allow for easier sorting and also tracking. 

At Elite, we urge all our customers to convert their business and courtesy reply mail to include the Imb. The end-user must request a Mailer ID number from the Post Office which will also be part of the Imb.  Once that’s obtained, it’s a fairly simple process and the Post Office will even supply you with a pdf file of the face of the envelope including the barcode.  We handle this for our customers all the time and it’s a snap. By switching to the Intelligent Bar Code, a mailer can speed up the reply mail cycle. This can have a positive impact on generating new customers or even cash flow. 

Those of us who rely on the mail for our livelihood either directly or indirectly should support this effort by the Postal Service to keep direct mail viable.

Topics: direct mail, post office, elite envelope, post office problems, direct mail solutions, intelligent barcode conversion, intelligent bar code

Yet Another Blog Post

From Jerry Velona - co-owner,

Elite Envelope & Graphics, Inc.

Jerry offers pertinent, often useful information on envelope converting and printing, web printing, direct mail, the post office, songs that have to do with mail and letters, digital overload and much more!

(Non-spam) Comments always appreciated.  Spread it around!

 

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all