WORDS TO LIVE BY: Colonial Printing/Integrity Graphics Inc. President Joseph E. LaValla, right, says that he has seen business reach its pre-recession levels in the past year. Above, he reviews some prints with Colonial Printing Senior Regional Vice President Kenneth Menna.
Commercial printing is an industry that caters to other businesses, providing a variety of services, from bound reports to pamphlets and digital photography. And as with other industries it has been greatly impacted by computer technology.
Adaptation is the key to survival, according to Kenneth R. Menna, senior regional vice president for Colonial Printing in Warwick, and Joseph E. LaValla, 55, president, and also owner of Integrity Graphics Inc. of Windsor, Conn., and Colonial Printing.
Has the industry changed over the last 10 years? “Dramatically,” said Menna.
Menna, now 40, should know. His father, Ray Menna, started the company in 1975 in Cranston as a quick-printing company. He began working with his father when he was 14 and continued through his college graduation.
Over the years relationships with their customer base grew. “Up until about 1990 we were more of a storefront printer, doing social and commercial printing. Then we moved off of Reservoir Avenue and focused exclusively on commercial-format printing.”
LaValla said most of the change has affected the pre-press process, the manufacturing of a printing plate or film that is ready to be printed.
“But there has also been a significant change in the presses themselves. The automation that’s out there today is tremendous,” he said. Equipment advances have resulted in greater efficiency. Make-readies - everything done on a press to prepare for final printing – that used to take 11?2 hours now take a half hour. Plate fabrication is now a 20-minute task as opposed to 11?2 hours.
To keep up with the times, Colonial has had to invest large amounts of capital into new equipment. With technology ever-changing, those investments are not only substantial but frequent. “It’s a constant reinvestment,” Menna said.
“In business you normally have a five-year plan. We’re lucky when we can get a five-month plan,” LaValla said, half-joking.
“We have about $8 million worth of presses, which are fully automated. We think the Komori presses we have are the best thing out there,” he said.
“With us having a strong pre-press background, our color management is second to none,” he said.