The Secrets behind Award-Winning Projects

The Secrets behind Award-Winning Projects

by Melissa DeDonder

The Binding Edge


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CMT was looking for a “And the winner is…” printed piece that would complement the award show’s overall design concept. McGraphics, Inc. in Nashville, TN, worked with the designers at CMT and the print specialists at Buford Lewis to create the colorful, vibrant reveal cards.


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The French Turned and Sewn binder by Silvanus Products, Inc. in Sainte Genevieve, MO, quickly became the company’s signature high end product.


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The M-Seed Training Kit with Binder created by Holum and Sons Co., Inc. in Westmont, IL, includes a package to house a variety of training materials – a binder, wire-o book, CD/DVDs and a business card.


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Binding Solutions, Inc. in St. Louis, MO, created a high-end product to help introduce L. Keeley Construction, peak interest and establish credibility with potential clients.

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What does it take to create an award-winning piece? Four companies share production details, including secrets of success and challenges faced while producing their 2013 BIA Product of Excellence Award-winning pieces.

McGraphics manufactures CMT Music Awards’ big reveal announcements

When the Country Music Television (CMT) network wanted a colorful, vibrant way to reveal the winners of the 2012 Music Awards, they knew just the company to call – McGraphics, Inc. in Nashville, TN. CMT was looking for a “And the winner is…” printed piece that would complement the award show’s overall design concept to the audience attending the show in person, as well as to the audience watching along at home.

“The project was conceptualized by the CMT team,” said Fred Weisbrodt, lead salesperson, McGraphics. “It was brought to life and tested in a collaborative effort between the designers at CMT, the print specialists at Buford Lewis and the McGraphics team,” Weisbrodt said. The process included a diecutting dieline concept that was provided to McGraphics. First, McGraphics cut CAD samples to ensure the concept intricately glued together and slid open in a manner that worked for CMT’s production team. Then, CMT’s design team worked with Buford Lewis to ensure the metallic paper and interior color functioned properly and provided the look they desired.

The foils were selected after completing a few color tests on sample stock. The exterior foils highlighted the award show’s bright and vibrant stage set designs. The pigment yellow and metallic red foils complimented each other well against the blue paper. The clear foil provided that extra “pop” to complete the look.

The pieces were foil stamped on Brausse and Kluge presses and were diecut simultaneously on a Thompson press. The diecutting and all three foil passes had to be done together to ensure everything worked in unison with the tight registration. Then, interior metallic printed pieces were glue mounted together on the Potdevin to showcase the bright metallic on both sides. Finally, the pieces were hand assembled.

Weisbrodt said the project’s biggest challenges included its time sensitivity, tight registration and sliding element. “The design team and print production team worked with us throughout the color selections and the CAD sampling process to ensure that we had our plan in place to produce the pieces in the limited time frame that we were given,” he explained.

McGraphics met its challenging production goals head on, and the hard work paid off. “We’ve heard a lot of comments such as, ‘Wow! McGraphics did those?’ and ‘That is so cool! I noticed them on the show,’ as well as many others,” Weisbrodt said. “Ultimately, the finished product exceeded our expectations. When something is planned and tested so many times prior to production, the final product seems to exceed both your initial expectations and the client’s expectations, too.” The piece won a 2013 Product of Excellence Award in the They Said It Couldn’t Be Done category.

Silvanus jet sets to new heights with a French Turned and Sewn binder

Many years ago, a customer asked Silvanus Products, Inc. in Sainte Genevieve, MO, to manufacture a binder that had a trademark. “Since we could not duplicate the binder, we made modifications to create our own design,” said Cathy Elliott, customer service and purchasing manager. Silvanus’ custom-created binder quickly became the company’s signature high end product. “People who want an upscale product love the French Turned and Sewn look, and we have been able to apply that same construction technique to many of the other products that we offer,” Elliott said.

What makes the French Turned and Sewn binder stand out from a traditional binder is its construction and quality, especially on the inside of the binder. It has an additional board thickness that provides both sturdiness and aesthetic appeal, which creates a different look overall. “It’s all about the look,” Elliott said. From the manufacturing standpoint, the French Turned and Sewn product requires more labor and materials, and it is a more difficult job to produce overall. “You have to be 100 percent on top of your game – every step of the way – on the production floor,” Elliott said.

For the Global Jet Sales Binder, Silvanus used a combination of heat sealing, sewing and foilstamping/debossing to register. Special care was taken during set-up and in quality checks to ensure the strictest production standards every step of the way. The biggest challenge for this project was that everything had to be precisely lined up – from the placement of the boards, the sealing and sewing to the assembly of the metals. “If even one detail would have been slightly off, it would have sabotaged the entire production,” Elliott said. The end result was a product that the aviation-based client was proud to showcase, according to a letter of gratitude that was sent to Silvanus.

The Global Jet Sales Binder won a 2013 Product of Excellence Award in the Sewn Products category. In addition, the company won awards in the Applique category for its Curriculum Teachers Guide and in the Turned Edge Casebound category for its Frederick Binder.

Holum & Sons reaps what it sows with M-Seed Training Kit with Binder

If your client’s first idea doesn’t succeed… This was the case with the M-Seed Training Kit with Binder created by Holum and Sons Co., Inc. in Westmont, IL. The goal was to create a training kit to the customer’s specifications, and the concept included a package to house a variety of training materials – a binder, wire-o book, CD/DVDs and a business card – in a functional and attractive kit. Originally, the package was going to be constructed from corrugated material rather than a turned edge product, but the end user was dissatisfied with the original sample created.

The designer’s initial concept included two large angled “pockets” with Velcro flaps to house the wire-o book and binder within the box. The team at Holum and Sons knew that a paper pocket would not offer enough stability to hold the weight of the book and binder, so the company’s challenge became how to construct the pockets to make them functional.

Richard Holum, president, discovered the best solution was to create two separate angle boxes with a magnetic flap closure to form the top and bottom of the overall box. The angle boxes were constructed with a full back panel, and the lid and flap were built off of that panel. The CD/DVD and business card pockets originally were specified to be PSA-backed clear vinyl. To complement the clean lines of the design, the pockets also were turned into tipped-in paper pockets. “Since the lining of the boxes needed to precisely match the overall box lining and outer edges, we really needed to work closely with our customer, Fey Printing, to provide them with accurate templates for all of their printing,” Holum said.

One of the greatest challenges for this project was its very small production window, especially for a product with so many components. “The project required a lot of cooperation from our client (the printer), our diemaker and our laminator,” Holum said. The multi-faceted challenges in production included the fit, form and registration of multiple parts. Each piece of the puzzle had to be sized and registered perfectly so that the end product came together as one solid package. Holum said there really were not any equipment issues to overcome. “Our team is accustomed to producing the unusual and supplementing our equipment with hands-on craftsmanship,” Holum said. “Sometimes the ‘old way’ is the only way to achieve a high-quality, one-of-a-kind piece.”

He said this project was one of the rare occasions where the company got the chance to meet the end user. “They were extremely happy with all aspects of the finished product, and they appreciated the group effort that it took to get the job completed on time,” Holum said.

The M-Seed Training Kit with Binder won a 2013 Product of Excellence Award in the category of Special Products. In addition, Holum and Sons’ Diversified Real Estate Concepts piece won in the category of Product Design, and the Stranger and Stranger Card Box won in the category of Foil Stamping/Debossing.

Binding Solutions nails it with innovative construction industry pitch book

When L. Keeley Construction needed a high-end product to introduce itself, peak interest and establish credibility with potential clients in the medium- to large-retail development sector, the company turned to Binding Solutions, Inc. in St. Louis, MO. The goal was to create a presentation that was clean in design and upscale in feel.

The collaborative design process included Fred Taussig, COO, Binding Solutions; Ryan Dempsey from PQ Design Group; and the client, Charles Berg from L. Keeley Construction. The team chose a green fabric to match the “L. Keeley green” in the company’s corporate identity. Taussig said the frosted cover really helped pique interest in what was to come on the inside by featuring a panel that allowed for the exterior surface graphics to get their due respect, while hinting at the underlying cover page’s content.

First, the acrylic cover panels were laser cut to form perfect edges and micro-radius round corners. The panels then were silkscreened. All of the gluing and turn-ins were done by hand. The spine and back panel consisted of 98pt binder board. The document was twin-loop wire bound and glued into the case via a 2″ cloth cover flap to hold the book in position.

Binding Solutions learned a lot during production. “Acrylic is a fairly new material for us. After creating a few prototypes, we learned that the laser gives us very accurate dimensions every time. The edge finishing is nice and smooth, and we can radius the outside corners to whatever the design calls for – and they are perfect every time,” Taussig said. The company also evolved its gluing method for this project, joining the Cialux fabric to the acrylic panels for excellent registration and maximum adhesion.

Taussig said that the learning curve paid off. “The entire presentation felt good, from the first impression made by the cover to the well-designed interior pages and the smooth page turning allowed by the wire binding,” Taussig said. The client was very pleased with the finished product and returned to order more shortly after the first order had been completed. The initial project now has grown into something more – a spin off project with different colors and a logo for L. Keeley’s sister company, ADB Companies, Inc. The L. Keeley Construction Pitch Book won a 2013 Product of Excellence Award in the Innovative Use of Materials category.