It’s VistaPrint for Hong Kong.
But less aggressive and irritating.
On our tours yesterday of printing plants in Hong Kong, we visited a company called ePrint, which is a largely web-based commercial printing company. They specialize in – everything. Their presses range from A3-size Indigo to 40-inch Heidelberg. They have saddle-stitching, perfect binding, and Smyth sewing equipment. I saw four large JDF-enabled Polar paper cutters, at least three Trendestter Magnum platesetters and processors, two 53 cm. Heidelberg Anicolor presses, and one Kodak Nexpress.
This 17-story building is home to ePrint, and to ten other printing companies. It’s a beehive of activity with banks of freight elevators moving skids of paper up to the printing facilities in the building, and bustling with customers on the ground floor.
The company is located in 40 rooms of a 17-story printing enterprise building in eastern Kowloon. They share the building with numerous other printers and a variety of other trade manufacturers. The reason that they occupy these odd spaces on different floors of different wings of the building is that they grow and take space when it become available. The building is a warren of hallways and spaces, supported by a bank of industrial elevators that bring skids of paper up and down for the businesses in the building.
These are watt-hour meters for 22 of the building’s occupant companies. The meters are located over the landing of a stairway in the building. While we were visiting yesterday, there was a technician stringing fiber-optic cable through a raceway in the hall, bringing ultra-high speed communication to one of the tenants.
Efficiency is the watchword for ePrint. They have a score of local retail storefronts where people can walk in an order printing. It’s possible, for example, to order ten sheets of printing from the company for delivery in two days. More common items like photo books, business booklets, posters, menus, posters and standard-size items, can be delivered in less time.
This is the ePrint sales area on the ground floor of the building. In addition to the ICC representatives visiting, the company had a number of retail customers working with customer service people at the counter. Around the well-lighted room were many samples of the work produced by the company.
Everything they print is done with CMYK colors. Spot-color jobs are jobbed-out to a partner company. Everything they print is color-managed and tested for quality. They have an impressive control room where jobs come in via the Internet, and are dispatched to the various production work flows they have developed in-house.
The company makes about 1,000 offset plates every day on their Trendsetter Magnums. The firm’s staff of about 400 people are located in clusters where prepress is done, where platemaking is done, and where binding is done. The digital presses and the cutters are located together, while the offset presses are scattered around the 40-year-old building where space is available for them.
Jim, ePrint’s color management supervisor, explains his systems to William Li of the ICC committee, and a representative of Kodak in Burnaby, British Columbia. Jim impressed us with his knowledge and abilities in managing color for a very complex printing operation that runs 24 hours every day.
The retail outlet on the ground floor of the building was abuzz with customers dropping off files for production. Customer service representatives sit along a long counter, opposite their customers, and work with them to take orders and to arrange for printing, binding and delivery.
While many of their counterpart printing firms have left the urban Hong Kong center and moved their plants to mainland China, ePrint has made the decision to stay in town and provide customer-centered printing with short turn-around and low prices.
It’s an amazing place, and unlike any plant I have ever visited.