by: Dianna Brodine
Dan Griffin loves it when his company makes a good impression. From giving the customer a tour of his bright, modern facility to quality job samples prepared by hand to packing completed jobs with care, Binderyonics, Inc. of Elk Grove Village, Illinois aims to exceed customer expectations at every stage of a project.
Looking for a New Way to Excel
Griffin had 20 years of experience as a salesman for trade binderies in the Chicago area when the company he worked for went out of business. “I had a built-in customer base with no one to service them,” said Griffin. He jumped in, opening Binderyonics in 1993 with a skilled base of twenty employees, many of them operators from Griffin’s previous employer. He bought a few pieces of used equipment, purchased a couple of new MBO folders, and was up and running within a month. From the beginning, Griffin focused the company by specializing in high-volume cutting, folding, and saddlestitching at competitive prices, preferring very large production runs that allowed Binderyonics to offer economy of scale to large printers for their finishing work.
Binderyonics grew as its reputation extended beyond that initial book of business, but Griffin recognized trends in the industry that would require change. Consolidation had become the name of the game in the Chicago-area printing industry and large printing groups were buying smaller printing companies, reducing the number of potential customers for binders and finishers like Binderyonics.
“About three years ago, we were at a crossroads in our business with all the consolidation,” said Griffin. In the past, trade binders profited by taking advantage of the inefficiencies in the market. “Printers would be inefficient by accepting a product that they didn’t have the equipment or ability to finish, and then they would call us,” explained Griffin. “But consolidation pushed specialized services to certain printers and plants, eliminating the inefficiencies. We needed to grow a different way.” Binderyonics decided to get into the mailing and fulfillment business, allowing it to compete with the big consolidators by offering binding and mailing under one roof, thereby separating itself from the traditional trade bindery.
The first step was to purchase Videojet PrintPro ink jet imaging systems. Recognizing its inexperience in this new arena, Griffin acknowledged that the equipment purchasing decision was influenced by the location of the company representatives. “The reason we bought from them is because they were based in Chicago, so if we had any issues we could run over there for help,” laughed Griffin. Binderyonics started networking with its present base of customers, letting them know about the new capabilities. There was a learning curve, but from the beginning Griffin knew he’d hit upon a successful strategy. “We’ve been able to grow our business throughout the Midwest. People now will pay the freight to send their product to us from St. Louis or Milwaukee because there are so few binders that are able to complete the mailing and fulfillment.” A recent project demonstrated the full range of services offered by Binderyonics. Employees cut, folded, saddlestitched, ink jet labeled the inside and outside of the piece, affixed a label, shrink wrapped, and mailed the shipment.
Staying on Top of Equipment
In Binderyonics’ quest to be a premier one-stop shop for its customers, making trade binding and mailing one, the company is passionate about the need to reinvest in equipment to become more efficient with less labor. The pressure is on to produce products at what the market is willing to pay, and new machines are often the answer to creating efficiencies. Most machines are replaced after five years of use, and Griffin is a fan of technology that allows his employees to work smarter, not harder. “We’ve invested heavily with MBO because of its automatic bundling equipment – the palamides bundlers. Normally at the end of a folding machine, a person would pick the stack up, bundle it, and put it in the box, but with the bundlers the job runs twice as fast and we save on labor. Some of our competitors have been slow in going there because of the cost, but we’ve tried to be at the head of the pack.”
Binderyonics has twenty-two folders on site, along with six of the MBO Perfection series folders with the palamides automatic bundlers, four saddlestititchers with ink jet mailing capacity for imaging inside or outside, five Polar cutters with paper handling systems, and equipment for shrink wrapping and fulfillment, wafer sealing, and calendar drilling. Binderyonics uses a mix of saddlestitchers because each one has a different strength. “We have two McCane saddlestichers with the imaging equipment, then we have a Muller Martini and a Heidelberg. The variety gives us more flexibility because we can go really big or really small as far as sizes,” explained Griffin. The operation is housed in a facility that was built from the ground up and designed around the equipment for efficient workflow. The facility contains 75,000 square feet of manufacturing space with additional warehousing off-site and Griffin is proud of his modern, well-lit facility. “Sometimes binders have to deal with the myth of the dark, dingy building, so we tried to make that a big selling point for visitors.”
Binderyonics runs 24/7 based on work load. Since much of the company’s work is seasonal, Griffin has seen business return to the cycles of the 90s, where from July to December is very heavy and the rest of the year is steadier in terms of volume. The facility produces over 20,000,000 pieces per day and everything the company produces goes into the U.S. mail system in some capacity: newspaper inserts, catalogs for Macy’s, promotional pieces for AT&T, and much more. It’s high volume work and Binderyonics has chosen to embrace equipment that eliminates labor and makes its pricing and capabilities more competitive.
Equipment purchases aren’t the only investment Binderyonics has made to keep its business on top of a changing industry. It also purchased a customized computer system from Dienamic MIS Software. “About three years ago, we realized we couldn’t continue to do what we were doing,” said Griffin. “We looked at new markets, purchasing, processing – we looked at everything in every part of our business. That was when we decided a MIS system would give us the needed tools and targeted information to make the right decisions in a timely manner.” From the moment an order arrives at Binderyonics, its job ticket is entered into the computerized management information system. Work orders then are electronically sent to each department head and Quality Control. This department uses the software to oversee each stage of production. Griffin points out that the software also allows them to pick up pennies. “It makes us more efficient in how we purchase and produce in all of our cost structures.”
First Impressions Count
Fast, 100 percent accurate, on time, and on budget, those are the promises Binderyonics makes to its customers. Griffin admits that 99 percent of his competition makes the same promises, but Binderyonics goes further by paying attention to details that might not seem important, like packing. Binderyonics believes that when the packing looks good, the company looks good. “When we’ve had issues with customers, it seemed like it always started when they received the product, whether it was damaged in freight or we were sloppy with it,” said Griffin. On the other hand, if a customer receives a shipment and the packing looks good and the skids are neat, the customer is impressed with the “quality” of the job.”
‘We assume that if the customer wants us to do the work, the customer assumes the quality of product will be there,” explains Griffin. ” we go beyond the product. We pack carefully, we deliver on time, our paperwork is computer-generated, and we create good samples. In the day-to-day operation, one of those things is typically somebody’s bugaboo.”
Binderyonics has a full-time sample department that creates all samples by hand and promptly delivers the samples to customers. It also has added a Quality Control department. Griffin made the change because of adjustments in the level of expectations of his customers. “With all of the quality control programs that have been marketed like ISO9000 – our customers demanded more, so for us to stay in the mix we had to upgrade those departments.” Griffin further explained the move, “Now we have full-time people that keep us in check. Before, you depended on the guy running the machine to check the quality, but now it’s just a different animal.”
Griffin is fond of saying, “First impressions are lasting impressions.” The product is only one piece of the presentation for Binderyonics. The packing, the packing slips, the skids’ all lead to the customer’s sense that Binderyonics cares about quality from beginning to end of each project.
By diversifying its base from trade bindery only to a complete fulfillment center, Binderyonics has grown to employ 150 people and expanded its customer-base throughout the Midwest. By providing first-class service at every stage of every job, the company makes a lasting impression that is sure to keep its customers in the printing and publishing industries coming back for more.