The Art of Being Credible    

“Today is an ideal time to spend some money and have my plant appraised," said no printer, ever. Regardless of whether you feel appraisals are worthless, today’s plant and machinery appraisal industry is substantial and essential, with trained specialists deployed in accessing and verifying plant machinery to determine condition and worth.
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China: Breaking All The Rules    

1945, with the end of the Second World War the massive print industry struggled to return to normal. All of a sudden domestic manufacturers found themselves back-logged with orders for new equipment, suddenly discovering they did not have enough skilled labor or materials.
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Two Remarkable Gentlemen From Winnipeg    

Winnipeg Manitoba is often called the gateway to Canada’s west. Situated far north and west of Toronto, it takes a hardy bunch to live there year-round. The winters, with arctic winds howling, seem to last forever - only interrupted by short hot summers where the mosquito is considered the national bird.
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Wish You Were Here    

A guy, diving headfirst, into a small pond or lake—this was the image on a 1975 postcard included in Pink Floyd’s iconic vinyl album titled Wish You Were Here. I thought it was an innocuous addition, but did hope to mail it someday.
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The Ultimate Disruptor    

Between 1906 and 1918, in Long Island, N.Y., William Gegenheimer set out for work expecting to spend his days installing and repairing Harris Automatic offset presses. During this time, William not only worked for Harris, but also ran a press in a local printshop.
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When The Next Big Thing . . Isn't    

Whatever happened to beaver pelt hats and mink coats? The former went out of style in the early 20th century, while the latter is perilously close to the same fate. If there is a “want,” then someone will source and capitalize on materials needed to satisfy it.
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Cornering The Market    

Ira Washington Rubel was a born salesman; he could spot a winner with just a glance. Having passed the bar in Chicago, Rubel ran his own print shop in Nutley, NJ. The business was booming, and Rubel ran several Direct Rotary Litho presses, which used zinc litho plates directly transferred to paper.
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A Chance Encounter    

Despite what is currently on display now in the United States, both politically and in relation to COVID-19, it doesn’t impact how I see Americans overall. A great deal of my business life has involved working with our neighbours to the south, and I always found Americans more progressive than the rest of the world.
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Fire And Brimstone    

As a kid, I found attending church dull, other than one particular Thanksgiving Sunday service observing a mouse ravaging a display of gourds, corn and pumpkins while our Pastor bellowed away. Besides sheer boredom, I often recall a great deal of clergy finger-pointing with dire warnings of eternal damnation.
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Robert Miehle's Stroke of Genius    

No one ever said business is fair; it never was, and never will be. The best and worst of our humanity often surfaces under the guise of “doing business.” It was during the wild days of the 1880s in Chicago that a 23-year-old finished his apprenticeship and graduated to the rank of pressman at the famous Poole Brothers Printing Company.
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2020's Best Press?    

For well over 40 years, I have only used one brand of paint spray gun. Sure, I did drift once and tried a Binks, but I always returned to my DeVilbiss JGA. It so happens I still have that original gun. I love my DeVilbiss. Why, you may wonder? I don’t have an entirely rational reason other than during thick and thin, with some jobs being more than challenging, my JGA has never let me down.
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Not Everything Turns To Gold    

This past March, amid a worldwide pandemic, news from the world’s largest printing press manufacturer may have caught some in the industry by surprise. Heidelberg’s much-touted collaboration with Fujifilm, developing the world’s first inkjet 40-inch press, was ending. Adding to the astounding news, Heidelberg would also cease producing their VLF (very large format) presses.
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Fasten Your Seatbelt    

The entire world has entered new territory. Young or old, male or female, smart or dumb, the virus plays no favourites and not only disrupts lives but also literally kills. H.G. Wells, the English science-fiction author, probably nailed it back in 1897 when he wrote the classic War of the Worlds. But for seemingly innocuous bacteria, the Martians would have destroyed humankind. The 2003 SARS virus was never quite like this.
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Operation Bernhard    

The Nazis counterfeited the most circulated British £5 note to use the fake money to finance German intelligence operations. S.S. officer Arthur Nebe had a devious plan. As the head of the Reichskriminalpolizeiamt (central criminal investigation department) in Berlin, the ruthless killer came up with an idea of forging British currency and dropping banknotes all over Britain, courtesy the Luftwaffe.
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All For The Sake Of A Screw    

Uniform world standards matter. Partisan and national pride, when blocking the path of progress, stifle efficiencies which in turn eat away at free enterprise’s role as innovators that can lead to constantly lowered costs. Back in 1986, I was in the midst of another Heidelberg offset installation, way out west in the pretty little town of Woodinville, Washington State.
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A Stroke of Genius    

Another decade has arrived, and with it, new optimism for a fledgling print industry. Digital inkjet continues to elbow its way into pressrooms around the world, redefining our industry and bringing new hope. But there was a time when printers focused only on finding ways to produce more for less. Today it’s the opposite — produce less for more money. More »

History Repeated?    

Recent world events have exposed lessons learned over the last one hundred years — if we don’t learn from our mistakes, we are bound to repeat them. If there is one thing any business owner can agree on, it would be that instability is bad for business. Our current global situation provides plenty of uncertainty. Politics offered by unstable leaders threaten many Western democracies, with a new form of nationalism spreading like it’s 1933 again.   More »

Every Dog Has His Day    

As a kid growing up in Montreal, Que., my parents had a good friend who owned a French-made Citroën DS. Almost every time Mr. Hagen would come over, I’d run out of the house and plead with him to show me how his car would magically go up then down. The whole body of the car would slowly rise and descend with the turn of a knob. It was magic!   More »

Lessons learned from the golden years of Wall Street printers    

I was the only guy not in a suit. It’s 1986, and after picking up a bunch of executives at the airport, here we were all clustered around a press console of an almost-new Miller TP 104 five-colour press. The Miller, a 41-inch double perfector, had barely reached its first birthday. Pandick Inc. was the buyer and one of a close group of financial printers headquartered in New York City. Bowne & Co., Charles P. Young, Sorg Inc., Merrill Corp, and R.R. Donnelley were the other members of a prestigious and lucrative club — the voice of Wall Street. In Bowne’s case, a rich history going back to 1775.   More »

How Two Odd Bedfellows Joined Forces to Take on the ‘Big Three’    

Five years have passed since the dramatic announcement between Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Ryobi Limited to form a unique partnership and combine their offset press resources under a new name: RMGT. Let’s look back at how this came about, and what the future holds for the steadily shrinking offset segment.   More »
The World's Struggle with Waste    

Standing outside my local coffee shop, I’m staring at a row of trash bins, each emblazoned with signs. One reads garbage, another, recycle, while a third says paper. Just as millions of people, I struggle to figure out which bin or bins my lunch packaging should go into.   More »
The Remarkable Birth and Evolution of The Speedmaster    

Inside the offices of Schnellpressenfabrik AG, Heidelberg frustration not seen since the firm’s founding in 1850, filled the hallways of power. A new crop of young executives grew impatient with their boss, Herbert Sternberg. The year was 1961. Heidelberg Druckmaschinen, as the company would soon be renamed, had never entered the offset field. Sternberg was stubborn and believed the future would always be letterpress.   More »
Return To Simple Thinking    

Epochal comedian George Carlin once discussed how the English language had expanded to create pointless new vocabulary. Carlin recounted how during the First World War, many servicemen suffered from shellshock. During the second Great War, this morphed into battle fatigue. Finally, after the first Gulf war, a newly penned description was wrestled out of dictionaries, and we now refer to it as PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  More »
Out With The Old? Not So Fast!    

The growth of the specialty segment. Decades ago our company represented Brandtjen & Kluge stampers and embossing presses in Canada. The Kluge platen press, based on patents dating back to 1860, has managed to outlast everyone, including original inventors George Gordon and Chandler & Price.   More »
The Little Wonder    

How the Harris Brothers rocked the printing world. In the sleepy Ohio town of Niles, brothers Alfred and Charles Harris owned a small jewelry store. The year was 1890, and after several blunders, including an ill-fated attempt inventing an automatic nail-feeder, both swore off any more financial fiascos. The 1972 book The Harris Story tells us what happened next.   More »
The Outliers Among Us    

Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 bestseller Outliers garnered worldwide attention, posing the argument that successful people needed more than brains, ambition, hustle and hard work to reach the top. Gladwell reasoned they also required luck. Using various examples such as Bill Gates’ access to a university computer or the Beatles 10,000+ hours of practice . . . . .   More »
Built Like A Tank    

How the digital era is reinventing the printing press. If you take a drive west from the city of Quebec and cross the St. Lawrence River, you come across an unusual site. Two bridges come into view. The Quebec Bridge (Pont de Quebec) is starkly dissonant from its neighbour only 200 metres to the east. Completed in 1919, it’s a massive steel truss structure with a tragic past. Today, it remains the largest cantilever bridge in the world   More »
The Power Of The Printed Book    

Printed books are on the rise. I was driving home from an appraisal in central New York; it was September 11, and we all have that day etched in our collective consciousness. Bob Woodward was being interviewed on National Public Radio (NPR). What an opportunity to buy his book, which was being released that very day, so I made a quick detour into the picturesque city of Oswego to look for a bookstore.   More »
When A Deal Is A Deal, Until It Isn't!    

How Komori won the war by losing the battle - The Harris Web Saga. On April 29, 1983, the palm trees were swaying on a warm Florida spring day. At its Melbourne headquarters, Harris Corporation’s senior management let out a huge sigh. After prolonged negotiations they had finally offloaded the massive Web business to a consortium of senior management, led by longtime Web division employee James Pruitt and several bankers.   More »
Cutting To The Chase    

You can only print what you can fit in a (press) chase. Tactile – representing exciting new processes brought by early pioneers Scodix and Konica-Minolta/MGI, showcase how we have moved from “essential print” to eye-catching attention- drawing communication. As more of this digital technology enters shop floors one thing is clear; the hardware is pricey. More »
Of Guns and Printing Presses    

United States War Department, eager to develop homegrown weapons, listened enthusiastically to what French revolutionary soldier Major Louis de Tousard had to say. He had learned the gun-making craft in France and was a staunch supporter of Le Système Gribeauval. It was the French who first began developing a way of manufacturing guns in a uniform method.   More »

Back To The Future    

The millennium Drupa 2000 trade fair was electric. World economies had just come off the best five years of steady growth, and the internet was only beginning its attack on analog commerce. At Drupa, Komori Corporation showcased a brand new press: the Lithrone S40 Project D. The D stood for Digital.   More »

Running Out Of Gunpowder    

How a fateful day of hunting in 1802 led to the founding of Du Pont and its rise as a dominating power. Pierre Samuel du Pont, a Frenchman, immigrated with his family to America in 1799. Before setting sail, he was warned that the French were rather unpopular in the now independent colonies.   More »

Made In Japan    

How A Japanese Press Builder Found Its Way Onto The World Stage. Deep inside our Howard Iron Works Museum sits an odd looking offset press. Cast in the frame the words Komori along with the once familiar Bat logo. I managed to finagle this press from the hands of an English dealer.    More »

The Big Strike    

In the mid 1960’s, when I was a small boy, my father took me through the back door of 80 King Street West in Toronto. The noise was unbelievable – as was the gargantuan monsters inside. This was the Toronto Daily Star, and I had witnessed the presses printing the evening edition live!    More »

The Genius of Friedrich König    

Friedrich König was a genius. If you visit either KBA’s Würzburg headquarters or the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, you will see just how advanced his now famous The Times press is, built in 1814. With a 19th century fledgling printing industry labouring with only brute force, König created a massive advancement.    More »

The Great Disrupter    

Decades ago an older gentleman wandered into the foyer of a five-star hotel. He was carrying a shopping bag and dressed in less than appropriate garb for such an establishment. He asked for a room. The front desk clerk, assuming him he was a bum, suggested he try another hotel down the street. The bum, however, owned the hotel property.    More »

Back In The USSR    

The world of Print has been enriched by many folks from all walks of life who took many different roads to arrive at an industry with seemingly no beginning or end. On a busy mid-week day, 36 years ago, a city inspector walked into Frank Herrington’s print shop. “Can you tell me where your designated smoking area is?” asked the inspector. “Wherever I’m standing”, uttered Frank.    More »

The Terror of Zumanjaro    

Think taking a terror-filled ride on Zumanjaro is the ultimate scariest you could possibly feel? Then you probably have not been through the life-changing horror of a major insurance claim. No doubt about it, the Six Flags Great Adventure ride in New Jersey is sure to suck the life out of you with its 415-foot drop reaching 90 miles per hour in just 10 seconds.    More »

Second To None    

The enormity of America seems to engulf us all in Canada. We are captivated by everything American – from media to politics. Often times we Canadians ponder our relevance to Americans and wonder why so little regard is shown to the country to the north along the world’s longest undefended border.    More »

We Are Not Alone    

Go bigger in printing vernacular still refers to the luxury of larger job volume and, as we know, the lithographic process does not have limitations on run lengths or increased costs. There are no differing click charges or maintenance fees for a litho job of 2,000 sheets or one that is 200,000 sheets.    More »

The Discovery of Offset    

As if a floodgate opened, 112 years ago the offset process was born. Perhaps that’s not completely correct. Planographic printing from a stone was an already mature industry for metal decorating, maps and posters. Metal decorating refers to an image printed onto a sheet of steel.    More »

Making Sense of a Weak Dollar    

Back in the spring of 2011, Canada’s dollar was flying high. It hit a level of almost five cents above the American greenback. As experts pointed to the advantages of Canada’s banking regulations, the Great White North was outpacing the United States coming out of the 2008 worldwide recession. The purchasing power of Canada’s printing industry was fantastic.    More »

In Memoriam: Timothy O. Upton    

Timothy Otway Upton passed away on October 8, 2015. I will not speak of him in a past tense – he is always with me and thousands around the world who were lucky enough to know him. .    More »

Deception In Philadelphia    

Ever since the invention of the wheel, great ideas have not only been eclipsed, they have been stolen. The R. Hoe Company, once a mammoth builder of newspaper presses, had incredible scandals and court case. George Gordon snapped Stephen Ruggles ideas for a platen press then fought for years to protect his trumped patents.    More »

The Little Press That Could    

For over 500 years, since the first bible was printed mechanically and in multiplicity, the industry we call Print has been one of exclusiveness and necessity. Letterpress printers, for example, grew their businesses by what inventory of fonts they had, by varieties of type styles and sizes, choice of matrices and pure quantity.    More »

Software Is Printing Power    

For over 500 years, since the first bible was printed mechanically and in multiplicity, the industry we call Print has been one of exclusiveness and necessity. Letterpress printers, for example, grew their businesses by what inventory of fonts they had, by varieties of type styles and sizes, choice of matrices and pure quantity.    More »

Halcyon Days - Where Have All The New Presses Gone?    

"Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end . . . " The song popularized by Mary Hopkin in 1968 waxed over youth, lost opportunities, passions and a life now well past its prime. Cycles of every form have a beginning as well as an end.    More »

Heidelberg's Greatest Gift    

In the early 1980’s, the phone rang in our small office. It was a local garden hose manufacturer, and he had a problem. The round printed cardboard disc that was to be placed inside a hose reel was missing something. “Made in Canada” was required and somehow the printer had forgotten to include this.    More »

Print 2.0 - Print's Need For A New Operating System    

The Wall Street Journal’s Suzanne Vranica recently wrote: “Digital advertising continues to be the bright spot in the ad industry and it is expected to grow nearly 14% in the U.S. to $42.26 billion this year, according to research firm eMarketer”.    More »

Of Mice and Men, and The Four-Percent Dilemma    

Back in 1996, my company needed additional short-term warehouse space, because our new building was not yet complete and the existing space was full of inventory. We found some industrial units and arranged a month-to-month lease, despite an odd smell emanating from the units.    More »

Hidden Value in Real Estate and Equipment     

Capital markets were never designed for win-win scenarios even though many believe otherwise. Financial news from Manroland Sheetfed and H.J. Heinz offer age-old examples of this fact; when there are winners there will also be losers.    More »

Jumping To Carton Conclusions     

Untruths often metastasize into reality all around us. Politics arguably provides the most consistent train of falsehoods becoming dogma, or perhaps it is the religious zealots of all faiths who polarize followers into believing we’re right, you’re wrong.   More »

A Crisis of Confidence     

Wherever you are printing in the world, most people realize their new business environment is facing a new, far-reaching challenge in the confidence of the printing product. Bank meltdowns, sovereign debt woes, continuing ad-budget creep onto the Web are all primary factors causing many of us in the business of print to pause.   More »

Press Makers Don't Make Submarines     

The year - 2018. Two guys are sitting at a bar in South Korea's Ulsan Industrial District - the world’s largest shipyard. The South Korean turns to the German and asks “So, how did your company get into the propeller business?”   More »

Breaking Through White Noise     

The growing speed and efficiency of the World Wide Web continues to blow my mind. It will continue to bring great things to our lives as we become more accustomed to connecting with information and news in the moment.   More »

The Financial Conundrum     

Drive pass any factory or office complex in the process of a major clean-up or closure. What do you see? Stockpiles of computers, printers, and photocopiers. Since the launch of the desk-top computer, scenes like this are commonplace    More »

The Stuffed Monkey - The Aftermath of Drupa 2012    

The music man was back at the Altstadt (Old Town) of Düsseldorf again. As I walked with my family down a busy backstreet, I could just hear the faint sounds. “Hear that?” I said to my daughter. “Wait till he comes close. It’s a man with a music box and he’s got a real live monkey with him”.    More »

Moore's Law Meets Drupa 2012    

Most everyone has heard of Gordon Moore. Back in 1965, Moore stated that since 1958 all components on an integrated circuit had doubled each year and would continue for at least the next ten years.   More »

The Trickle-Up Effect of Industrial Digital    

With Drupa 2012 around the corner, there is the potential for a break-through from digital to Industrial Digital. Maybe not all seen at this Drupa, but it would seem that with most of the R & D being deployed [into] Electrophotography, what’s coming will shatter the traditional printing platform forever.   More »

Press Demos and Other Paradoxes    

Want to raise some blood pressure? Ask a press demonstrator working for any equipment manufacturer to recall one of their most-disastrous demos. In fact, this question is just as likely to evoke strong rebuke from almost any press salesperson or commercial printer who has travelled to see a million-dollar machine in operation.   More »

8 Simple Ways To A Profitable Pressroom    

As we entered 2012, what questions regarding your pressroom floor can be important to you? How can I extend the useful life of my sheetfed equipment? There may be a lot of reasons why some of us are working much more profitably than others.    More »

Asleep At The Wheel?    

November 25th’s announcement by manroland was shocking but not really surprising. Sounds rather silly in that context but similar to learning of the death of a loved one you know is terminal - shocking still but not a surprise.    More »

A Greek Tragedy    

The Greek Islands are stunning. Picturesque villages back dropped by the deep blue waters of the Aegean and Ionian Seas. The weather is usually fantastic, wine somewhat of a world secret and, of course, the food - absolutely fantastic!   More »

The Harris Study     
In the fall of 1974, in Los Angeles, the Harris Intertype Corporation presented an extensive report concerning the future of offset printing. The report was presented to the National Association of Printers and Lithographers (NAPL). The North American economy, at the time, was deep in the doldrums as reflected in high fuel costs, shortages of paper and weak consumer confidence.   More »

The Upside-Down Value of Presses    
The economic forces of supply and demand are particularly strong in the business of selling highly productive machinery. Within the printing industry, supply and demand often feels like a curse to equipment suppliers when they need to determine a satisfactory allowance for taking back a client’s machine, while also making sure that take-back allowance is the correct figure based on current business conditions.    More »

Manufacturing Diversification

A few days ago, I came across a very interesting quotation from one of Coca-Cola’s most-prominent former CEOs, Roberto Goizueta. Interesting in that it, at least to me, so succinctly describes the current state of printing in Canada.    More »

Women and Children First

The date April 14, 1912, seems meaningless at first, but most people are acutely aware of the events that transpired on this day, close to midnight, as the then world’s largest passenger liner brushed an Atlantic iceberg 400 miles south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. For the next century, the story of the Titanic, of both gallantry and cowardice, has been told in countless books and movies, articles, music and plays.    More »

The End of Press Bubbles

The Harris-Seybold Company on July 7, 1964, presented a quotation for the following press:
One (1) New Harris 23" x 36", Two Color Offset Press. Model 236 (LTP), complete with standard attachments, one set of covered rollers for each color unit, extra cores, two sets covered dampeners for each color unit, variable speed electrical equipment to your specifications and supervisory erector’s services. F.O.B Factory, Ohio: $49,950.00.
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Big Press Making Decisions

“You’re wrong!” said a printing company owner recently. “There is no way my machine could be worth such a low amount. I have always been able to sell my equipment for as much or more than I paid for it” This type of statement I hear quite often. More »

Reflections on America - The War of Wealth

Northern Rock’s former chief Adam Applegarth is not a household name in North America, but he is widely recognized across the United Kingdom and most of Europe as a principal architect of the recent global economic meltdown. Almost one year before Wall Street’s late-2008 financial collapse, Applegarth told a British news program that “It started on the 9th of August (2007) when the world changed.”    More »

Printers Cannot Afford To Cut Prices

79 years ago, Canada’s flagship printing magazine, The Printing Review, included a feature article outlining why a printer – in 1931 – would be making “the mistake of their life” by reducing prices to appease the buyer’s market. The article, entitled Printers Cannot Afford to Cut Prices, explains, that not so long ago, a printing company could reduce pricing to secure a job with the intention of making up the difference on the next job – “but these other ones are few and far between to-day, and the wise printer knows it.”    More »

Print In A Changing World

North America, the greatest market for consumerism, has changed. Bailouts to large integrated companies are in the spotlight. Retirement savings are in jeopardy. How it has all happened is not clearly understood. The Graphic Arts industry has had to deal with tightened credit and decreasing margins for a long time.    More »

Creative Challenge

I needed a fax machine for home. That’s how it started. Now, buying anything electronic isn’t quite like buying, say, a book. The store was filled with all sorts of desktop faxes - some with copier and scanning features, others with auto feeders. Almost all were under $500.00.    More »

Perfecting The Perfector

More and more we are asked about 4 over 4 technology. The pre-owned marketplace reflects this growing trend. I talk to printers who have this technology and the comments are somewhat varied. That is to say that there is no definitive answer to my prodding. Certain plants experience very little problems while others complain of disappointment over the technology.    More »


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