Printing and Purchasing

Posts tagged ‘Springfield’

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno – Part 2

Graphics or Printing is one of my passions. During my career I have been fortunate to have years of education [BS] and a career of diverse positions in the printing industry. One of the major influencers of this passion was the teachers at Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical High School’s Print Shop. Mr. Chapman, Mr. Clune and Mr. Dodd were influential in my vocation, and secondary education. These teachers cared about printing and their students.

The print shop was important to the city since it supplied the printing needs of the school department as well as the city of Springfield. Work was abundant in the shop and it allowed students to learn the trade in a hands on practical way. The teachers knew the trade. The teachers had diverse backgrounds from being experienced in the industry to being an RIT graduate, which happens to be my alma mater.

This was a great educational experience. The press room was always busy with as many as 7 presses/duplicators running at any given time thus giving the students practical experience. The shop had several hand-fed clam shells, a Heidelberg Windmill, Miele Vertical, AB Dick 350, 360, Multi-Graphics, and a Heidelberg Korg. The press room was run by Mr. Dodd who also worked as a pressman after hours which allowed him to stay current.

A student was able to utilize co-op in their junior year and students who excelled were able to work summers printing the school handbook for the coming year. Some may say most of this is repetitive work, however, when training repetition is important.

Last month I walked into the Graphics Department and I was very pleased. I walked into the pressroom and my senses came alive with the unique smells you experience in an active working pressroom. I experienced students cutting paper, running a large folder [click hyperlink to see video ], not a desk top, manning the customer service counter and preparing files to print. When talking with the teachers I was aware they loved and knew printing [click hyperlink to see video ]. Seeing the department’s awards wall [click hyperlink to see video ] I was doubly aware the teachers were sharing this knowledge with the students. Unfortunately I wasn’t in Putnam, Springfield’s Vocational High School Graphic Department.

Buck Upson and I toured the Graphic’s Department at Worcester Technical High School, It reminded me of when I attended vocational school. The shop handles 15,000 to 20,000 print jobs per year. What an experience! Worcester, MA, should be proud!

For Springfield, MA students to have the same experience changes must be made in the Graphics department, which I am working to improve. To do so, I need assistance from parents, union officials, school committee members, Springfield MA city officials, school department members and industry leaders. Will you help? E-mail –

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno

Last Thursday night Roger L. Putnam Vocational-Technical Academy hosted a General Advisory Council [GAC] meeting where chairs of all Program Advisory Committees [PAC’s] for vocational shops attended along with shop department heads, leadership from the Roger L. Putnam Technical Fund, School Committee members, Springfield School Superintendent, Daniel J. Warwick, and Head of the Teachers Union to name a few.

Several shop Heads gave speeches recognizing students in their shop program. The principal, Mr. Gil Traverso, gave a speech and so did the Mayor of Springfield, Domenic Sarno. Mayor Sarno shared that the media wasn’t in attendance and charged those in attendance to share the positive about what was happening at Putnam.

So Mayor Sarno is the genesis of this blog, doing my part, sharing some of the positive of Roger L. Putnam Vocational-Technical Academy.
1. The new Putnam School building is incredible and if you have a chance you should take a tour.
2. The students in the Putnam Music program provided excellent song for those in attendance.
3. The highlight of the night was the Culinary Arts department which provided excellent food and service. In fact, the Culinary Arts department is open for lunch most days when school is in session, so stop in for a meal.

Since I graduated from the Putnam print shop in 1977, my next blog will discuss Graphics, my personal favorite.

Putnam’s Mission:
Is to provide a world class academic and technical education that will prepare all students for post-secondary success in the global marketplace.

Putnam graduates will continue to be lifelong learners and productive, responsible citizens.

Springfield School’s Mission: To provide the highest quality of education so that all of our students are empowered to realize their full potential and lead fulfilling lives as lifelong learners, responsible citizens and leaders in the 21st Century.

RIT School of Print Media-Refocus from Traditional to Digital Equipment

Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Print Media [my Alma Mata] is removing a traditional press to increase space for digital printing. This is another indicator that digital printing is growing and another viewpoint which I believe is in-line with my Putnam blog of last year.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein

Purchasing Used Printing Equipment

When equipment needs to be purchased, start by determining the equipment specifications, and options required to manufacture/produce the predetermined mix of products. When purchasing used equipment is determined to be an option, precautions and additional research are needed. Then decide which models/manufactures meet the requirements and source potential vendors before sending a Request For Proposal [RFP].

There needs to be a section with questions and information requests within the RFP. Has the equipment been under water?  What repairs have been made? Is there a maintenance log that can be provided? Which company/technician made the repairs?

When the bid[s] arrive and only one bid is received or only one of the bids are determined valid the buyer needs to review the process to determine why only one bid was received. The buyer should review the original specifications and ask the following questions. Were all the requirements/specifications needed? Were the bidders limited by the requirements of the RFP? Was only one model acceptable? Was the RFP process limited by not inviting enough qualified vendors? The buyer after answering these and other questions needs to modify the RFP and request new proposals in an expeditious time frame.

Once a piece of equipment is selected from the bids, confirm the bidder has provided the correct and fully executed documents; Indemnification, and Certificate of Insurance. Then modify the corporate Contract based on precautions need for the equipment being purchased.

Work with your legal team to ensure the Contract, has all the necessary details such as warranty of service and parts, terms, termination, choice of law, payment schedule, training, extended warranty, pre-test, and post-test, etc.

The tests need to be designed specifically for the piece of equipment you’re purchasing. The type of test should not be left up to the seller!  A press, for example, needs to have a test designed for the maximum image/sheet area, and the number of printing units. Don’t use a four-color test when the press is three-color. The best test is designed to easily determine equipment flaws, so don’t short change this step.

A buyer or company which doesn’t take the time to rebid or pre-test isn’t being fiduciary responsible.

Please e-mail your questions, comments, or send PDF’s of printing and mailing issues to

Thank you for your time.


Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical High School – Print Shop

The students in Putnam’s Print Center deserve hearing an alternative view to the articles in the Springfield Republican and concerning purchasing a two-color press. Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical High School has helped many students learn a trade over the years and I am one of those students. When I attended Putnam, the Print Shop faculty, Mr. Al Chapman, Mr. Jay Clune and Mr. Bruce Dodd, instructed me about printing, and had a positive influence in my printing career.  On their advice, I continued my education at Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Printing. Because of my education, I have worked for several large top-rated printing companies in the Pioneer Valley such as; Magnani and McCormick, Inc., Allied Printing Services, Inc., and Dow Jones & Co., home of the Wall Street Journal.

As the construction for the new Putnam comes to a close, several are recommending changes to the print shop which would require hundreds of thousands of extra dollars to modify the building and purchase a new larger press.  The reasons given for these changes are for the students to make more money, to train on a press that is used locally and smaller printers are closing, which use smaller equipment, leaving only large printers, with large presses.

“It wouldn’t be right to lie to kids,” said J. M. “Buck” Upson of Pioneer Tool Supply in West Springfield and a longtime advocate for vocational education in the region. “It wouldn’t be fair to have them go through this program for three years and not give them the skills they need to get jobs in today’s big printing companies.”

“Smarter and better trained means higher paid workers, and that’s why Putnam needs the kind of press that is big enough to print catalogs and magazine-sized booklets. Workers capable of handling those presses can earn up to $25 an hour.”

Residents of Springfield, MA deserve to know there are other viewpoints and information that they need to know before making a final decision.

  • Because the printing industry as a whole is in decline, small and medium-size printers are closing. The recession hasn’t helped the printing industry where over 2,000 companies closed in 2010 alone. The printing industry can be compared to farming during the turn of the 1900’s when people sold their farms and moved to the city leaving fewer but larger farms. The decline of printing can be attributed for the following reasons:
  1. Technology: Since graduating from Putnam, technology has improved making presses three times faster, and desk top publishing where an individual can print at home.
  2. Internet: Mail reduction has reduced the need for fewer envelopes and letterheads and documents posted on the web has also reduced the need for printing.
  3. Digital Printing: This has allowed customers to order smaller quantities economically.
  4. International: Competition from off and near shore has reduced local printing.
  •  Raising the money to purchase a larger press and to modify the building is only part of the added costs. The larger the press the higher the operating and consumable costs. Examples of operating/consumable costs are electricity, rollers, blankets, packing, fountain solution, blanket wash, ink, paper, repairs, etc.
  •  Medium to large sized printers purchase four to eight color presses. A six-color press provides greater versatility, allowing the printer to print four color process, 1 PMS color [corporate color] and a spot varnish in one pass. Normally these presses have an aqueous coater too.
  • The Print Shop in previous years had a larger press, a Heidelberg KORD, however, it didn’t run very much in contrast to the duplicators [small presses] which produced work daily. For a student to become proficient they need to run the press all the time. It takes years to become proficient at running a multi-color press which is confirmed in one of the MassLive articles. “It can take two to three years to get a worker off the street up to speed.” Does Putnam have the volume of work needed to make a student proficient in operating a larger multi-color press? If Putnam has the volume of work, how will faculty decide which student[s] will be given the time to become proficient? Most large printers would start a student as feeder operator/2nd press person not as the lead press person, except on a small press.
  • Putnam could install a color copier/printer and network it with the battery of existing MACs. The future of printing is personalization. With this network, students can learn to prepare files for variable data printing, and prepare mail files per the US postal regulations.
  • Since digital printing is a growing segment of the industry, Putnam could consider installing a Vutek. With a Vutek students can train to develop complex layouts, cartons, pocket folders and test their files by printing them. The students could learn the art of ruling up a much larger press sheet such as 28×40”. A second machine, Putnam could purchase is an I-cut where students could test their die building skills needed for pocket folders and cartons. Since the I-cut can score and cut, the pocket folder, box project that was printed on the Vutek can be cut to final size even on 16pt board where scores and flaps can be verified.
  • A school should be a place where students learn the fundamentals and diversity of their trade, to setup/run different equipment, to solve problems, and to learn the mechanics and chemistry of the trade. These fundamentals can be taught with smaller presses [duplicators].
  • If higher paying jobs are the concern, why not teach the fundamentals of print planning or estimating? Here the student can make more than as a press operator.

Students should have the best equipment and training, which will give them the best chance for a good career. It is my hope there will be an open debate within Springfield on how to properly equip the new Putnam Print Shop.

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