“We’re up to color within 60 sheets,” versus several hundred under the old process, [and I’m] getting “the highest quality printing I’ve ever had on the press.”
At GordonGraphics, waterless printing is central to its efforts to protect the environment. The company is based in Phoenix, Arizona, on land that is part of the Sonoran Desert. The state has been facing the same drought that in April 2015 forced California to institute water rationing and that even today has been the major cause in the spread of thousands of wildfires across the southwest.
“Have you read our sustainability statement?” company president Tom Gordon asks. “We mean it,” he says. The statement is eloquent: “The focus of GordonGraphics is to meet current business needs while preserving the earth for future generations. Our core values regarding sustainable practices are based upon minimizing environmental impact and raising public awareness.”
Gordon points out that “in the US, less than 1 percent of print sales come from waterless. People here must think that water is an infinite resource. I think that they’ll realize that it’s not, and how expensive water is going to become. Then waterless printing will grow.”
Gordon says that while customers talk about the environment, too often they focus on price. “Print is a commodity for many of the buyers,” Gordon says. “We try to bring personality back into it by working on a one-to-one basis.”
Tom Gordon was born in Denver 61 years ago. One of 10 kids, he moved to Phoenix at age 18 to find his way in the world. After a succession of odd jobs, one at an engraving company, he founded GordonGraphics in 2001 as a print brokerage in Phoenix. In 2005 a small local printer was closing shop and offered him a good price on both their equipment and their account list. And so he started printing.
Business grew steadily until the recession in 2008. “I went through some hard times from 2008 to 2010,” Gordon recalls. “I thought we might go out of business. Then one of my competitors shut down and we picked up a bunch of accounts. It turned us around.”
Once again the business grew. But there were even better things to come. Gordon can pinpoint the date.
“Last March (2014) I was sitting at home talking with my wife,” he says. “I said that we weren’t giving enough back to the community. So I started volunteering at a local food bank. Now I go every Saturday morning.”
At the end of last year, seeing an uptick after the first quarter of that year, his bookkeeper asked, “Tom, what happened in April?” He told her that in the last week of March he had started volunteering at the food bank. “When I started giving back, that’s when the money started flowing in,” he says, with obvious pride in his voice. Sales are up by 50% so far this year.
GordonGraphics provides a full spectrum of services to a broad assortment of customers. Products range from design through to printing and mailing. They recently added a custom-logo promotional products service. Customers range from ad agencies to corporate clients, churches and small companies. The GordonGraphics web site features testimonials from six key customers, including the Arizona Scouting Museum and Honeywell Aerospace.
Moving to Direct Imaging
In 2008 Gordon bought an Adast DI press, only to learn soon after that KBA was acquiring the Adast product line. KBA discontinued manufacturing the presses and eventually stopped supplying spare parts. Fortunately United Graphics Systems now services Adast presses in the U.S., so Gordonwas able to continue his pursuit to bring new life to an old press.
GordonGraphics was using Presstek plates on the Adast but grew concerned after a series of price increases. The company turned to Toray.
“I’ve been aware of Toray for years,” Gordon says. “I got in touch with them and they imaged some sample plates. The plates printed beautifully.”
Gordon bought a Koenings KTW 650 Toray Plate Processor and combined it with the Procam WaterMizer PPR 30 recirculator. This holds 30 gallons of water that recirculates continuously while being filtered. There can be up to two to three weeks of use before the water needs to be changed. The filtering eliminates any external sources of minerals from the water supply that could cause scratches on the plates.
The processor runs exclusively with Toray plates. Gordon has found additional advantages in switching to Toray. Rather than imaging on press, they can now make the plates in advance, ready to mount as press time becomes available. Makeready time has been slashed from one hour to 15 minutes. And, Gordon notes, “we’re up to color within 60 sheets,” versus several hundred under the old process. But, most importantly, he’s getting “the highest quality printing I’ve ever had on the press.”
Tom Gordon looks forward to the future. He hopes to run the company for another decade.
“I actually enjoy what I’m doing,” Gordon says. Asked what he enjoys the most, Gordon quickly replies: “When the entire company is working together for the same goal.”
“People talk about the decline of print, but,” he says, “there’s always a pendulum moving back and forth. Print is powerful. Leaving a brochure on someone’s desk is a stronger attention grabber than sending just another email.”
And Toray waterless plates will be a key part of the company’s future. “I’m in completely with Toray,” Gordon states. “They’re making me more competitive and they’re there for me to get the growth that I need.”