Coyne Graphic Finishing Mastering the Art of Diversification

by Melissa DeDonder, The Binding Edge

According to its customers, Coyne Graphic Finishing, Inc. in Mount Vernon, OH, is the “curve ball hitter” in the industry due to its ability to take a project that seems impossible and execute it successfully. Valerie Price, director of business operations, said the company achieves this feat by never shying away from a finishing challenge and by regularly investing in the equipment needed to expand its scope of services. “With the explosion of digital media and fewer commercial printers in existence, companies today must either diversify or perish,” Price said. Coyne Graphic Finishing, Inc. has mastered the art of diversification and will go out of its way to complete projects, even on tight deadlines.

Coyne Graphic Finishing, Inc.’s story began in 1924. At that time, the company was known as Manufacturing Printers. In 1974, Bob and Alice Coyne purchased the company, changed its scope to commercial printing and, in a few short years, the company became incorporated as Coyne Printing. In 1980, the Coynes purchased a larger facility in Mount Vernon and acquired an additional location in neighboring Heath, OH. The company continued to do business in both locations through the 1980s.

A new era began in 1990, when the Coynes’ son, Kevin, purchased the business and moved all the operations to Mount Vernon. “In 1993, after seeing a need for finishing services in the printing industry, Kevin began shifting the direction of the company to graphic finishing,” Price said. As the company grew, it found itself split between two locations once again, until the late 90’s, when the company transitioned out of the commercial printing business to focus on graphic finishing. Again, the company consolidated both locations, which doubled its production space to its current 60,000 square feet. In 2005, the company rebranded itself and legally changed its name to Coyne Graphic Finishing, Inc.

Navigating challenges with gusto

Today, Coyne Graphic Finishing is a one-stop finishing shop. The company offers a wide variety of high-speed, precision-quality services in 23 categories. “We want to do everything from start to finish – from mounting, diecutting and laminating to kit packing and drop shipping. This saves the customer time, money and the headaches that often come from dealing with more than one company,” Price said.

Coyne Graphic Finishing, Inc.’s niche is mounting, diecutting and collating large format projects. “We also have turned edge capabilities up to 200pt board, which is unique among turned edge finishers,” Price said. “With our turned edge services, we specialize in carry boards for tile, carpet and any application where samples will be applied. This includes euro binders that fold for high-end siding and housing applications,” Price said.

Currently 60 percent of the company’s business is large format, utilizing processes such as mounting, diecutting, collating, straight knife and laminating. Typical projects in this category include headers, standees, calendars, skirt wraps and point of purchase displays. Turned edge, kit packing and assembly and tinning each represent 10 percent of the company’s business, and the remaining 10 percent comes from high die and ancillary services, such as wire-o, padding, heat bending and CNC routing.

The company primarily serves major metropolitan markets in Ohio and in five neighboring states, as well as in every small town in between. “It has been our practice to knock on every door that may have a project that fits our wheelhouse. From the odd and unusual to the simple diecutting and mounting jobs, we want them all,” Price said. By combining a broad range of capabilities with experienced personnel, Coyne Graphic Finishing can handle even the wildest design and production ideas.

The company recently produced a large volume run of product sample kits that included a material needing artificial “distressing.” To achieve the desired effect, Coyne Graphic Finishing washed the material with coffee grounds to create a stained antique look before placing it inside the kit.

Coyne Graphic Finishing, Inc. is willing to take on any challenge, provided that it has the capacity to do so. “We have a ‘we don’t say no’ mentality,” Price said. “Owner Kevin Coyne has an engineering background, so he likes to pursue unusual projects and most of the time, they are outside of the print industry – usually assembly and kit pack projects – or sometimes projects that don’t even have a printed piece in them,” Price said. She said that the company has a project in-house right now that has no printing – it’s a complete shipping, packing and assembly project.

Another recent challenge was a railing project for a national home improvement store. The client had originally designed an in-store display kit with 58 pieces that was to be assembled at each store. “We advised them that the kits were too complicated – they would just get thrown away,” Price said. “We went with them back to the drawing board and together we simplified the project – reducing the kit down to 40 pieces that would be assembled at our facility and then drop shipped to the stores as an ‘unpack and go’ display.” Out of this one project, Coyne Graphic Finishing ended up acquiring four more railing displays.

Despite the unique and sometimes extreme challenges that come with the creative projects, Coyne Graphic Finishing, views them as a win for everyone involved. “For us, they usually provide more of a profit margin than the typical commodity type projects, they present opportunities for us to use our in-house creativity and they involve all of our departments because they have multiple processes involved,” Price said.

The company’s creativity and hard work has paid off. Coyne Graphic Finishing, Inc.’s projects have garnered numerous awards and accolades from the Printing Industry of Ohio – N. Kentucky’s Print Excellence Awards competitions, including awards for Best of Show, People’s Choice and Best of Category in 2012 for the USTA Midwest 10 & Under Tennis Display. Additional awards include Best of Show and People’s Choice in 2010 for the Justice Locker Display, and a People’s Choice award for the 2007/2008 Kenworth Calendars.

Empowering the employees

Another secret to Coyne Graphic Finishing, Inc.’s success is that the company takes great pride in its 28 employees – their persistence, craftsmanship and commitment to satisfying even the toughest requests. Most of the employees are long-term. “We have employees that have been here since Kevin’s mom and dad owned the company in the mid-70’s,” Price said. “We have a customer service representative who has been here 34 years, and all five of our department leads on the production floor each have more than 15 years with the company.”

Coyne Graphic Finishing trains its employees based on production needs. “We assign employees to learn certain machines from start to finish based on their interest in learning. After a few months, we switch them to another machine so that no one person has all the knowledge,” Price said. The company also brings in outside technicians to teach employees how to manage, care for and efficiently operate difficult equipment.

A recent restructuring initiative put the focus on employee empowerment, a need that was based on several jobs that had been completed, but were flawed. “It’s a very expensive lesson to learn when we need to have something reprinted and refinished, especially at the end of the project and at our expense,” Price said. So, the company focused on the need to empower its employees to make decisions on the floor – at the production line – if something needs to be stopped or reworked before the job is complete.

Coyne Graphic Finishing, Inc.’s department leads and customer service representatives know what projects are coming in and when they are scheduled, either from the time of the purchase order or – if it’s a large job – from the time of the quote. This team will follow a project from start to finish, which includes the final banding, wrapping and labeling for shipment. “They work together to streamline processes and address any issues before the job even arrives on the production floor,” Price said.

“We’ve found that this is an essential step in the process. We’ve put a lot of stop gaps and autonomy in place, and there’s a lot of cooperativeness in the process,” Price said. “Our employees are able to make the right choices on the fly and, as a result, we have become more efficient, cut production costs and increased the quality of the product that we offer,” Price said.

Looking into the crystal ball

When asked about industry trends and how the company is responding, Price had this to say: “Our customer base is shrinking every year. With fewer commercial printers, more printing companies are becoming the competition by buying their own equipment and ‘finishing’ the projects in-house to keep themselves employed, rather than sending the work out to the true finishing specialists.”

Despite these trends, Price emphasizes that Coyne Graphic Finishing will continue to partner with companies that compliment the company’s capabilities. “We are willing to share a project with our partners who are more specialized in a particular area than we are. I think a lot of businesses are afraid to do so – they are afraid of losing a customer, but we really don’t have that fear. If our customer wants to leave us, it’s because we did something wrong,” Price said.

The company has seen more customers who are looking for the best price and turn times. “Where there used to be customer loyalty, few companies can afford that luxury now,” Price said. She added that Coyne Graphic Finishing is constantly looking for that next opportunity to diversify, and sometimes that means looking outside of their traditional market. “Many of our specialty projects are brokered jobs or they originate from a marketing company. This is one of the ways that we’re trying to diversify so that we’re not completely dependent on the print industry,” Price said.

The company’s long term goals are to continue to grow, at a steady pace, by listening to the customer’s needs and by investing in new equipment to keep up with the growing demand for specialty services in the industry. “We’re constantly searching for the next ‘explosion’ that will hit the marketplace in terms of new equipment, services and out-of-the-box thinking. We will continue to make alliances with others in the industry from printing to finishing, offering more services to our clients and making more business available for our partners and ourselves,” Price concluded.