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Pushing the Envelope Beyond Ordinary

Five Perfect Web Printing Jobs

Posted by Jerry Velona on Jun 22, 2016 11:09:08 AM

Web printing has nothing to do with the World Wide Web. (It would be interesting to do a survey to see how many people actually know that’s the term referenced in the “www” in web addresses).   It’s understandable that many non-printer buyers who hear that Elite Envelope & Graphics does cold web printing automatically think it’s something done with a computer.  Well, our 8 color Didde Colortech press does have a computer attached but it’s for assuring the proper balance of CMYK as we lay down another awesome print job.

 The “web” part comes from the fact that the paper printed in these presses starts as a roll. As the roll unwinds through the press, it wraps around a series of rollers designed to keep the paper taut in order to maintain proper registration of the printing.  This creates the look of a “web” of paper; hence the name. The photo just below shows our two web presses from the back and gives you an idea of what I’m talking about.

2013-07-26_02.17.29.jpg Commercial presses print on either individual sheets (sheet-fed) or rolls of paper (web). Most high-end printing is done on sheet-fed presses. There are a lot of reasons for that but suffice it to say, both types of printing have their place depending on the individual job.  Web printing has its advantages over sheet fed for things like long runs of individual sheets; newspapers and broadsheets, booklets and perforated items. There are a lot of different web presses out there and each has its own unique features and strengths.  Here’s a list of five hypothetical jobs that are tailor-made for our particular web presses and which would be suitable for just about any similar type of press. 

  1. Letter size (8 ½ x 11) individual cut sheets for letterhead, statements or invoices.
  2. Postcards for mailing or binding in a catalog or booklet
  3. Buck slips (usually 3 ½ x 8 ½)
  4. 8, 12, 16 or 24 page booklet/self-mailer (ideal page size 8 ¼ x 10 ¾)
  5. Placemats (11 x 17) used routinely by diners and restaurants

The most common stocks for the above jobs would be 50-70# offset or opaque or 7-9 point hi- bulk for the cards.  Since perforating can be done in-line as the item is printed, any of the above items which contain perforated lines make it an even better value and better suited for the web press.  There can be multiple perforations or even cross-perforations on a single piece.   Folding for any of the cut sheets: e.g. a trifold letter size sheet to fit in a #10 envelope, is another ideal characteristic for a web job.  

Any of the above items can be printed from simple black up to and including 4 color process on both sides.  Newer web equipment features high resolution color printing which produces sharp, clear images suitable for all manner of direct mail applications.

The moral of the story is that anyone who buys print should know what works best on a web press versus sheet-fed.  Many buyers we work with will order one or two components out of a direct mail package to print web for the best price.  We hope this helps to clarify where you might start looking to make those buying decisions. It could very well save your company money and make you look very smart. Of course we realize you’re already smart because you’ve read this piece to the very end.  Oh, and you can get further information on our webs from the world-wide web at www.eliteenvelope.com

Topics: cold web printing, direct mail printing, web printing, financial printing, web printing versus sheet fed

Pushing the Envelope: Talk versus E Mail

Posted by Jerry Velona on Feb 24, 2016 9:59:22 AM

I was talking to my daughter the other day about something funny I saw on Facebook. Someone had posted a picture of what used to be on the TV screen when the programming stopped in the early morning hours.  Kind of looked like this!  It was accompanied by a continuous low beep that lasted until the early morning hours when the shows would start up again.  Yes kids; that really used to happen.

Now we’ve come so far since then that my 16 year old daughter didn’t see it as such a laughable relic of olden times because in 2016, her connection to television, especially the broadcast variety is tenuous at best.  Most of what she watches these days is on You Tube or Netflix or from links she picks up on social media.  Television; the fantastic gadget that tantalized my parents’ generation at the 1939 World’s Fair is now pretty much consigned by the iGens to “whatever” status.

Another story about the “good old days” that I regale her with occasionally concerns the land line telephone. Yes, my child there were obnoxious sounding busy signals which just kept going and going until you hung up. If the line was busy and you had to speak to someone, you just kept calling until you got through. And when my big sister used to speak to her friends, she had to pull the cord and walk part way down the basement stairs and close the door behind her so she had some privacy.  This maneuver didn’t deter my grandmother who used to gingerly pick up her extension upstairs and listen in while covering the mouthpiece with her hand.  

 

talking_on_the_telephone.png

These days what used to be generational changes are happening within a much smaller timeframe. In the span of the past ten years or so, e mailing, like Facebook, has become more of a middle-aged thing.  My mother used to cut out articles she wanted me to read from the newspaper and magazines and send them to me.  Now I do the same thing with my kids but via e mail.  My older kids – both in their mid-thirties will read and respond. My youngest rarely even opens them. To her, e mails are something you get from school (or your parents!) and should mostly be ignored. If you want to reach her and get a reasonably quick response, you pretty much have to text.

E mail, however, still rules in business – at least in the envelope converting and web printing business.  In fact, the sheer number of e mails I get each day has become somewhat burdensome.  Now, I’m NEVER going to complain about a customer requesting something via e mail, or a prospect for that matter.  Hearing from customers; quoting on jobs, expediting requests and orders, and providing general customer service is the lifeblood of a business. It is something we value and is certainly not a problem.

But reading, considering and responding to those e mails, especially when they require some action on our part, takes up a lot of time.  Which leads me to my point (finally!).   I think we’ve become too used to e mail to the point where we’ll generate a trail of three, four or many more about a single subject when one simple and shorter phone call would do.  Now there is something to be said for typing up a quick note and sending and moving quickly on to the next thing before having to respond. I think we get into a groove with that activity and it gives us the sense that we’re being productive and plowing forward. Trouble is, I’m afraid in many cases we’re wasting time.  Why not just give the person a call and review everything in one (hopefully short) phone call?  Speaking in real time can resolve questions that might take several e mails back and forth as in; “is THIS what you meant?”, etc. Plus an actual conversation can reinforce any type of relationship business or personal much better than trading notes.

My grandmother, who was all about saving time would approve. Of course she wouldn’t be too interested to listen in on conversations discussing the best way to print an envelope or why web presses are the best option for direct mail printing.  My sister’s conversations with her boyfriends were much more interesting!

Topics: elite envelope, envelopes, envelope printing, pushing the envelope, web printing

Envelopes and Print in the Digital Age

Posted by Jerry Velona on Oct 6, 2015 11:19:00 AM

I just happened to catch the last part of the Nightly News last night; something I used to do with some frequency along with many others.  The final segment was about the resurgence of music on cassette tape and it brought a smile.  It featured a company that has now virtually cornered the market on cassette reproduction through buying a lot of the equipment that became available cheap when other companies bailed thinking it was a dying industry.  Phrases like “cassette culture” were bandied about mostly in relation to “hipsters” who wanted to hear their music on tape as a reaction to the ubiquity of streaming and other forms of virtual consumption. The current sales numbers mentioned seemed substantial but I have no idea how they compared to what cassette sales were not that long ago. My hunch is that this was one of those news segments looking for a hook on which to hang a pre-scripted narrative.  Portable cassettes were an advance from the more cumbersome reel to reel and the often malfunctioning 8 track formats.  In retrospect they seem to be more of a transition product between the classic vinyl record and the compact disc.  Their only legacy is the phrase “mix tape” which is now used in other contexts.  I can’t see them ever becoming more than a trendy niche. 

As I write this I happen to be listening to one of my favorite terrestrial radio stations, WFUV out of Fordham University in NY.  Seeing as how I’m based in the Boston area, I’m listening on my computer. FUV is a public station and so must subject us to periodic on-air fundraising. In selling themselves, they regularly mention how superior good radio is to the streaming services where you hear only what you want. I’m a big fan of radio so I’m already sold on that pitch.  But there’s a reason why streaming has become the music delivery vehicle of choice to a significant portion of the listening public.

Envelopes and Mail in the digital age

If you’ve stuck around this far, you’re probably wondering when this preamble (and I do mean amble…) will crystallize into, oh like…a point maybe?  Well, here goes:  In the marketplace, envelopes and print are in a similar position to radio and to a lesser extent, the cassette tape. We are in a period of great upheaval and transition.  Financial institutions are pressing to convert customers to the digital delivery of statements, proxies and other forms which were traditionally mailed.  When I told my thirty-something offspring that I still paid bills with checks in the mail, they reacted as if I went to the backyard to pump my water. The ubiquity of smart phones and apps for nearly everything is becoming the new norm. The Post Office continues its slow-motion implosion by using the necessary budget cuts to worsen service at the very time when envelope manufacturers and printing companies need faster delivery in order to compete.

Direct mail is still a very viable method for companies to market their products.  But it’s now just one option among many and a more expensive one at that.  Studies show the ROI justifies the cost but that can be a tough sell at the conference table when expenditures are being monitored carefully.

But like the public radio pitch, there is value in what we do.  Nothing on a computer screen makes an impression like a printed piece.  Colleges understand this when they send out letters (my 16 year-old daughter is getting several of them a week from prospective suitors) and beautifully printed, full-color catalogs. 

We need to use the wonderful world of technology to make us more productive so we can establish our niche and remain viable within a reasonable cost structure.  I’ve just finished producing a video which will be a “virtual tour” of our facility.  I’m certainly not the first one in the envelope industry to do this but it makes sense as a way to reach a broader potential audience and market for our products. I’ll be following that up with a series of shorter instructional videos about envelope converting, web printing and envelope printing in general. This will allow younger buyers who may not have the knowledge base and experience that print buyers had in the past to better understand what’s possible and what might make sense for them.

E mail marketing, that bane of the direct mail world, should be used as fast way to stay in touch, make short announcements and follow up on printed pieces that have been sent to establish connections. Of course social media is the new darling in marketing circles. I’m not convinced that it’s worth the investment of time at least in the world of envelope converting and commercial printing. There may be some small printers who want to establish a very personal connection to their customers.  But for the most part, having a high profile on search engines is going to get you more orders than a like on Facebook or someone pinning a picture of something they bought from you on Pinterest.

So this is not another lament about the demise of printing.  Reports of that have been greatly exaggerated in my opinion.  The next ten years can be a time of growth as we adjust to the new realities of the market and customer demands. Using technology to our advantage to win new customers and increase market share must be a big part of that effort. There’s still a lot of life in radio and envelopes and printing.  Maybe I’ll make a mix tape of our greatest hits?..Naaah!

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

Envelopes and Web Printing – Best Friends Forever! 

Posted by Jerry Velona on Sep 14, 2015 2:59:00 PM

If there were ever a title that required a smiley-face (or emoticon or emoji or whatever they’re called at the moment) I suppose it’s this one.  Yes, it’s time for the Elite Envelope and Graphics blog to dip its toe into social media-speak and the culture in general.  Just be glad that I didn’t go all middle school and use BFF: one of the many things for which you can be grateful this beautiful, late summer morning in America.

Can there be any doubt of the pervasiveness of social media in 2015? On a personal level, it’s been great when it knows its place; not always an easy place to find in the midst of the non-stop lives that many of us live.  We can keep up with our friends (maybe could do without all the updates about the latest meals), reconnect with people from our past who probably would have been forgotten, become aware of what’s new and perhaps exciting in our area and the world beyond.  All these things can be a welcome addition and diversion from the daily grind.

Business has latched onto this in a big way. No marketing conference can get away with not having at least one or more sessions on how to use social media to increase sales and brand loyalty.  Social media has reinforced and amplified the already well-established trend toward informality in business which in many cases has gone from Casual Friday to Casual Everyday without a lot of notice.  When you’re “liking” the new dress of some distant acquaintance on the same day that you’re “liking” the landscaping company you just hired, the distinction between personal and commercial is blurred beyond distinction.

Is that good for business in general? It certainly is for some businesses.  I suppose that companies generally will reflect the broad changes in society for better or worse. The general descent into explicit content and crude language on radio and television; two areas which in the relatively recent past you didn’t see that much are a fact of life.  Will businesses start to embrace this as a way of connecting to customers?  I think not for a variety of reasons but it will bear watching. Sometimes these things are driven by someone doing something considered outrageous and getting rewarded for it. Everyone then follows along as a way to compete or from a lack of imagination.  Howard Stern might be an example of this phenomenon. 

Perhaps it’s a stretch to suggest that social media business marketing is the beginning of the descent to the lowest common denominator; where how you speak and act in private is transferred to your commercial transactions with no distinction between the two.  If this does happen, I believe it will be driven by businesses which have a small, targeted market that would accept or perhaps even embrace that approach. 

Thankfully social media marketing is not that big of a deal in the printed and converted envelope and web printing world.  I say thankfully because it would be one more thing for me to do and frankly I much prefer one on one communication with customers. I think it’s more effective and in the world of social media can be a welcome relief from the need to post and promote incessantly to get noticed.  I think after I write this I’m going call someone I haven’t spoken to in a while just to say hi. They may be shocked!  Or they may think of me the next time they need a custom envelope or a printed direct mail piece. That’s worth one of these

 smiley face emoji

Topics: elite envelope, envelope printing, envelope converting, direct mail printing, web printing

Top Five Printed Products for the Cold Web Press

Posted by Jerry Velona on Jul 31, 2015 11:45:00 AM

Elite Envelope Cold Web Printing

Whenever you’re reading an article about how to write a blog article for maximum exposure, lists are always mentioned as a way to pique reader interest.  We’ve all seen them; those ads on the pages we click on with titles like: “Top 10 things you should never say to your wife/husband/pet”, whatever. How can you possibly resist clicking on something like that? Of course once we get there (after waiting and waiting for the page to load with an enormous number of other ads and click-bait) we are generally disappointed by something pretty banal like: “Number Six:  Are you gaining weight?” (Cats are particularly sensitive to that question…).

I try to keep this blog more geared toward useful information of a general nature and not too “salesy”. Thus far I’ve resisted using lists but we do some great things on our webs and I think you’d benefit from checking us out.  So here’s my Top Five list (could have made it Top Ten but hey, you’re busy and I respect your time).  These are not necessarily the “top” items but rather five commonly printed products that work really well on the cold web presses of the type we have at Elite Envelope.  But enough!  Here’s the list (in no particular order):

Bind-in/Blow-in cards for catalogs –  These can be printed with either a single perf so the customer can tear off the pertinent information or with a “T” perf so a reply card can be sent back in the mail; generally for lead generation.   Also Buck Slips: These are generally included as part of a direct mail package; often containing an “extra special” offer or message. In some instances, we will receive the order for just this one component because we happen to be very competitive on them.

Mailers & Fliers – Letter and Legal size cut sheets are a great fit for our webs. We print 2 or 4 page fliers that can be folded to a #10 or 5 ½ x 8 ½ and mailed; also 8-24 page full color booklets that can be mailed. We will often get orders for letters that will be personalized later. We’ll print and ship flat in cartons to the fulfillment house. 

Statements and Invoices with Perforations – Another part of the cut sheet family; we produce enormous amounts of these for medical billing companies, banks, election departments, local and municipal tax departments and others. The webs do perforations in-line which can make a huge difference in price especially on large quantities. The webs can also do multiple perforations and right-angle perforations. 

Placemats -   Yes, placemats! 11 x 17 placemats are the perfect size for diners, cafes and the food industry in general and they work great on our web presses.  They can be designed with ads and other information and can be printed in beautiful four-color process usually on 70# paper at very competitive prices.

Donation and Bind-In Envelopes  -  Fewer catalogs are using bind-in reply envelopes these days but they are still being purchased and we can provide them as well as the same style of envelope used by many non-profits for the mailing back of contributions.  These differ from regular envelopes in that they are end-glued without side seams so not as bulky when they are inserted into a booklet or catalog.  They can also be made with a lip at the end of the flap which is used for properly binding the item.

 

On any of these items, we can print up to 8 colors (4/4) in bold, sharp quality.  Please contact us if there’s anything we can do. As always, we love to get your comments as well.

Topics: cold web printing, direct mail printing, printed statements, web printing, Placemats, Bind In Cards, Blow In Cards, bind-in envelopes

Selling Envelopes and Print in the Digital Age

Posted by Jerry Velona on Mar 30, 2015 11:25:00 AM

Elite Envelope blog

“It was twenty years ago today.”

Yes, I know, a shameless attempt to get you into my blog by quoting the famous opening line from Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  But as I was getting my day going on a 32 degree “spring” morning in late March, I realized that my work life changed dramatically just about twenty years ago. It might as well have been the Stone Age.

 I was in sales at Northeastern Envelope Manufacturing Corporation of Braintree, MA. My boss was not just old school; he was the principal of the old school.  As such he insisted on a daily call report from me which up to that point I had dutifully hand-written and submitted, five at a time, at the end of each week.  

 I had recently purchased and began using my first personal computer sometime in 1994. I was just getting used to it and had heard of ACT contact management software. I decided to give it a shot so in the spring of 1995, I uploaded all my contacts, built a data base and began generating and printing my daily reports.  This was initially not met with enthusiasm by my boss who was still using index cards to keep track of his contacts. However, he eventually (but grudgingly) accepted the reports, and I was off and running into the information age.

My next life-altering experience came later that same year when I got my first cellphone.  Up to that point I had a pager or “beeper” as we called it firmly affixed to my belt. One of the inside staff at our office would call the pager number to let me know that someone had called looking for me.  I would have to find a pay phone, pull out my trusty roll of dimes and call the office to receive the message and then call the person back. This happened many times each day I was on the road.

I remember the first day I used my cellphone on the job. I called a colleague of mine to joyously announce that I was actually walking around downtown Boston talking to her on the phone.  I was so excited!  No longer would I have to use a payphone in the rain while juggling my notes and umbrella and fumbling for the dial. 

Just those two things increased my productivity (and my income) tremendously.  I was a bit of a late adopter but I think it was around twenty years ago that cell phones and e mails started becoming a big part of the daily life in business. 

Well here we are in 2015 and I’m still using ACT (a much later and improved version) and have had a succession of upgraded phones leading to my IPhone 6 which I love.  I can pretty much run major parts of my business through my smart phone.  Technology enables me to do meetings on line, answer my e mail from wherever I happen to be, send links of video to prospective customers and run a fairly sophisticated marketing operation solo.  All stuff I wouldn’t have imagined “twenty years ago today”.  (A second Beatle reference in that last sentence – so clever!)

So what did I spend a majority of my time doing last week? Calling and e mailing customers to set up face to face appointments.  I was able to line up several and each one of them was very productive. In each case I learned something new about our customer’s requirements and how we might be able to better compete to meet them. I also was able to personally express our gratitude for their business and end with a handshake which is not something you can do digitally.

Technology has changed our world and our business. I hear a lot of envelope manufacturers, envelope printers and web printers grousing about how the decline in overall volumes due mostly to computers and software have pointed our industry toward inexorable decline.  There’s some truth to that but print on paper and direct mail are here to stay. 

We need to embrace the enhanced ability to be more productive provided by new technologies and use them to our advantage. At the same time, we also need to remember that ours is a personal business based on strong relationships forged by customer service.  It’s easier to send an e mail and there are many times when that is the best approach. But there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings whenever they can be accomplished either in cultivating new business or cementing existing relationships.  Despite all the great toys and tools at our disposal, successfuly selling envelopes and print in 2015 is not all that much different than it used to be.

To meet the challenges of remaining viable and profitable it helps to remember, to quote from another great song from a different era, “the fundamental things apply as time goes by.”

Topics: direct mail, envelope printing, envelope industry, envelope manufacturer, web printing, envelope sales, printing sales

Pushing the Envelope against a Snow Bank

Posted by Jerry Velona on Mar 10, 2015 3:15:00 PM

snowstorm picture

 

Do I have your attention? If you live in most of the United States outside of the west coast, Florida and, interestingly, parts of Alaska, you have just about had enough of winter this year.  I happen to be writing this from the Boston area which has been the epicenter of snow, ice dams, parking-space wars and freezing cold temperatures this year. 

 

As much as I’d like to kvetch a bit about the weather, I’ll resist the temptation. The extra hour of daylight we now have is putting me in a better mood and besides this blog is supposed to be about making and printing envelopes and web printing.  So, I’ll take advantage of the early onset of spring fever on a 50 degree day to clean out some thoughts that have been hanging around all winter.

  • Hard to believe but commercial digital printing has only been around for a little over 20 years. While there have been tremendous strides made in the technology and it’s become the standard for small quantity, quick turn printing not to mention personalized direct mail, digital still represents less than 20% of the total print market by some estimates.  How much that increases over time will be an interesting market study pitting convenience against quality.  That’s not to say that digital printing doesn’t produce excellent quality. But when held up against offset, there’s no comparison at least to my eye. When audio CDs hit the market, it wasn’t long before vinyl records were hard to find.  I think if digital printing were going to make the same inroads versus offset, it would have happened by now. 

  • A few weeks ago the Boston Globe featured an article about how the Grateful Dead were planning one final tour this summer. The fact that they are doing a concert without Jerry Garcia is odd enough. But perhaps the most interesting aspect is that they were giving hardcore fans the option to order tickets by mail before they went on sale online. According the article (sorry I couldn’t find the link) it was a huge success and there were pictures of tie-died clad office workers moving about trays of envelopes received from fans and then sending the tickets back in the mail.  Given the average age of Dead fans, along with the assumption of their, shall we say, uniqueness, it’s not hard to see how this could be a successful tactic for ensuring that the hardcore fans (presumably those who still know how to include a stamped, self-addressed reply envelope) get first crack at the seats.  Might be a nice gimmick for other summer tours.

  • Haven’t written about the Post Office in a while but since we passed Groundhog Day a month or so ago I thought I’d report that the news is basically the same as it ever was.  On the plus side, operating revenue increased over 9% which was on top of the 8% or so increase from the previous year. This was pretty much all due to increased revenue from package delivery. However, the Service incurred a net loss of over $5 billion which is roughly the same as the year before and the year before that.  And yes, the Post Office blames the deficit on the fact that they have to fund a significant portion of their retiree health care costs rather than carry them on their books as an unfunded liability. They have been assigning this blame for many years as well.   Is anyone else hearing the faint strains of “I Got You Babe” in the background?

  • Lastly, here’s to the truck drivers and package delivery personnel (yes, that includes you guys at the Post Office – you do a fine job!) who have struggled mightily over the past couple of months or so in the greater Boston area trying to make the deliveries and commitments that we and many of our customers count on. It’s been tough getting around not to mention trying to back into a loading dock or parking lot. We appreciate all you do and couldn’t run our business without you.

Happy almost spring!

 

Topics: post office problems, pushing the envelope, web printing, digital envelope printing

Rush My Envelope Order Please

Posted by Jerry Velona on Feb 23, 2015 12:38:00 PM

harried worker Elite Envelpe & Graphics

Is there another way to express, “music to my ears?”  Yes, I know; the world moves too fast these days. When was the last time you took a nap? Or had an actual coffee break – not just slurping it down before it gets cold while you crank out more work but actually sitting apart from your desk or car and taking an occasional sip as you converse with a colleague?  Sounds positively quaint doesn’t it?  There must be a Normal Rockwell depiction of that somewhere in his oeuvre.

The frenetic pace of life in the modern post-industrial world has been dissected at great length so I won’t belabor that. The point here is; we need to deal with it. As businesspeople, we cannot choose the conditions under which we compete. We must simply compete in order to remain viable. Competition for customers drives the market. And these days, customers are not in a waiting mood. Why? Well mostly because businesses of all types are doing their best to provide instant gratification wherever possible. And if your business won’t, someone else probably will so you better figure it out.

Probably the only people who still have coffee breaks are unionized government employees who have them written into their work rules. Now we’ll play that game: “which of these things is not like the other?” The answer to this one is pretty easy – civil servants don’t have to compete. The services they provide (to the extent they provide them) are monopolies.  Try getting a driver’s license anywhere besides the Registry of Motor Vehicles.  (OK, the registry is low-hanging fruit but it does illustrate the point). Just come back when break time is over pal! Those of us in the private, competitive sector are forced to satisfy the demands of the customer or face losing that customer.

For the past thirty-five plus years I’ve been purchasing, selling or supplying printed forms and envelopes. In the early 1980’s, hardly antediluvian, it wasn’t uncommon for a vendor to have a 2-3 week lead time for a routine printed item; like, say a mortgage application or some such. This was acceptable in most cases. Now, unless you’re talking about a custom job, you’d get the e mail equivalent of stink-eye from any customer to whom you gave such a production estimate. Quite simply no one can wait that long anymore. The irony in the world of print is that there is less volume of print being consumed which you’d think might mitigate toward even longer acceptable lead times. No such luck!

It’s really just a function of the juiced up society in which we live. I find it somewhat amusing when I watch my teenage daughter get annoyed by having to wait half a minute for something to download. Yes, it’s tough when you have the entire world at your fingertips.  And business functions in this world, whether we like it or not so we must adapt and be nimble.

As for me, I welcome these constant customer demands for virtually instant gratification. It creates opportunity for advantage to smaller businesses which can adapt to change more easily. It also places a premium on highly capable and skilled customer service staff who can make things happen quickly and efficiently. Such things provide distinct value to the customer who resides in the same demanding world and appreciates a company that can solve his problem rapidly thereby making him look good.  This pretty much describes Elite Envelope and has been an important factor in our growth and success.

Rush orders – bring ‘em!  Yes, music to my ears. What might be the theme song for rush orders?  “I’m in a Hurry” by Alabama?  “Russian Folk Song”?  OK, time to sign off!  Let me know if you have any song titles or any comments in general. They are always much appreciated.

Topics: elite envelope, envelope printing, envelope converting, web printing, rush envelope orders

Envelopes and Web Printing: The Happy Couple

Posted by Jerry Velona on Jan 19, 2015 11:42:00 AM

marriage of envelopes and web printing

 

When Elite Envelope and Graphics acquired Web Corp in September of 2012, we joked that it was likely to be a good “marriage” of companies based on the compatibility of the staff, similarity of customers and the friendly relations between the ownership of the two companies. 

It has certainly turned out that way. After moving the three Didde web presses into our facility almost two years ago, we have managed to integrate the two companies quite well. We’ve been able to cross train so that peak demand can be more easily handled with existing resources.  The personalities have meshed and everyone works well together toward common objectives.

But none of that would have been the case were it not for the fact that envelope converting and printing and web printing are very compatible businesses with products that complement each other and the markets we serve very well. 

Web printing has always been the “go-to” process for a lot of direct mail components.  The typical, basic direct mail components of letter with perforated tear-off for reply and separate buck slip or letter, buck slip and reply card can all be produced very economically on web presses. The fact that most web presses will be able to perforate in-line makes those letters a better fit versus a sheet-fed press where the perforating has to be done separately.

Typically web presses can print on paper as light as 30# newsprint – sometimes even lighter weights like 27# which are commonly used in financial printing for all the legal boilerplate required by government regulators.  On the other side, the webs can also use paper rolls as heavy as 9 point high-bulk or 110# text. The latter is a mailing weight; i.e. heavy enough to be mailed as a reply card and still hold up quite nicely.

Web presses, especially cold-web presses of the type we have at Elite, are generally thought of for basic printing: black or a color or two with light to medium coverage.  In the printing world, that’s often referred to as “down and dirty” printing (interesting that an idiomatic phrase often associated with someone’s sexual proclivities gets adapted to the printing world. I’ll leave it at that!)  However, newer web presses such as our Color Tech and VIP models can print in beautiful full coverage up to 8 colors. That usually means 4 over 4 although it can be broken down in any number of ways: 6 over 2, 5 over 3, etc.  These colors give great life to direct mail pieces and the web process enables these finely printed pieces to be produced at a very competitive cost.

And what do all those components need in order to complete the package? Yes, the mighty envelope(s)! Elite is one of the few envelope converters that has the ability to produce entire direct mail packages all under one roof.  There are many printers that have presses which can print envelopes but not many envelope manufacturers that can print on flat sheets. 

As the printing and envelope industries evolve in the digital world, I believe more companies will start to emulate this model.  Being more productive and offering greater value to the customer is the only way to maintain a reasonable profit margin in a mature industry.

Those looking for an economical way to produce a great-looking direct mail package can find what they want fairly easily. Just look for the happily married couple!

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

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, post office problems, envelope converting, direct mail printing, direct mail solutions, web printing

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!

 

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