Magazine admires the power behind Lettertec and Selfpublishbooks.ie
Frank Kelly, Director of Letterec Ireland and the subsidiary Selfpublishbooks.ie was recently interviewed by Maeve Martin of Irish Printer Magazine.
The following is an extract of the article.
It is easy to claim that your portfolio of equipment is streets ahead of your competitors. But Lettertec Ireland Ltd can actually back up their claims about the range, quality and uniqueness of the bindery equipment they have installed. Managing director Frank Kelly talks to Maeve Martin about how he is beating the recession by making state-of-the-art and strategic investment.
“Our portfolio of bindery equipment is second to none,” says Frank. “We had Print and Packaging Forum director Kevin Byrne at our premises recently and he was amazed by our portfolio. No one in the printing trade is investing the wayLettertec is. Our Watkiss Power Square Stitcher was the only one in the country for the past five years until recently when Modern Printers in Kilkenny invested in one. And no printer in the UK or Ireland has the configuration of our Wohlenberg 5 Clamp Binder for cold glue binding.”
Lettertec’s bindery department also operates an automatic casemaker for hard cover book production, a casing in machine, and a Perfecta three-knife trimmer. “All of our equipment has been purchased in the last two to three years so it is the most modern, efficient, and accurate available, as well as being at the top end of the quality spectrum,” he says. “I am a big fan of German equipment and engineering. We initially purchased the aforementioned equipment for our own work but if a commercial printer wants to have either complete lie flat books, cold glue bound for added strength, or printed books case bound, we can do it for him. Kavanaghs bookbinders in Dublin, for instance, will gather, thread sew, add end papers and trim book blocks for us to case in. So if the printer sends his books to Kavanaghs and his cover material to ourselves, we can make the cases with absolute accurate registration, and when the trimmed book blocks arrive in we can case them in.
It is all automatic or semiautomatic equipment so there is no hand work and therefore the job is processed through much more quickly and with extreme accuracy. For instance, actual run times, not rated times, are as follows: we can bind 850 to 900 books per hour on the Wohlenberg, make 1,200 cases per hour on the casemaker, and then case in at a rate of 500 books per hour. To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing in the country to touch that throughput in terms of case bound books.”
Is trade work an aspect of Lettertec’s business that they are keen to build up?
“‘We are getting practically no trade work as we have not sought it,” saysFrank. “However, we recently took in a job from a colleague who knows about our paperback binding capability. The job had 500 pages of content and a 35mm spine, which was too wide for the printer’s own Horizon 4 clamp perfect binder, so we Ota bound it and cold glued it. The client was delighted with the complete lie flat that we achieved on such a big book and, as a result,another job was delivered recently. There is a quick turnaround and low margin as well as other problems associated with trade work but we would certainly be willing to engage with other printers who could provide regular work and appreciated what we have and can do for them”.
Unique Binding Technologies The Wohlenberg 5 Clamp Binder runson cold glue with an Ota-Bind facility so it will ‘perfect bind’ books withgauze or mull around the spine. “This gives added strength to the bookblock and allows the book to “swivel” in the spine,” ‘says Frank. “The base of the book block never touches the spine, unlike hot melt perfect bound books. This gauze is hidden in the cover of the perfect bound book, and if there is no drawn on cover, we just send it over to be case bound. The ’pull strength’ of our books has been measured by Henkel laboratories and is almost three times the minimum UK standard. To my knowledge, no other machine can offer that strength of bind. The Wohlenberg 5 Clamp Binder scores the drawn on cover in six positions, as opposed to four for a normal binder, it adds the mull or gauze, and then the book is securely bound.
The spine of the book never creases, no matter how many times you open and close it, because the bookblock is ‘swivelling’ in the spine. The binder can bind 850 to 900 books per hour, depending on spine thickness. In that configuration it was a considerable investment at Stg £250,000 but it does what it says on the tin! We used to have a Kolbus DA36 back in the nineties but our new fully automatic casemaker has practically no make ready at all so it is ideal for short runs, and it is also deadly accurate. It also runs faster than the old Kolbus.”
Book Printing and Publishing Book printing and publishing is a bigpart of Lettertec”s business and they have a separate dedicated website for this side of their operation – http://selfpublishbooks.ie. The company started offering the book printing service about three years ago as an adjunct to the main business and it has been very successful for them. “Given the type of product we provide, secure lay flat binding with the option for small runs of case bound ‘coffee table’ type books, we do not have any real competition in our space on the printing side,’”he says. “Of course any printer with a half decent digital press and a hot melt perfect binder can produce a paperback book but there is nobody on the island of Ireland doing what we do. In fact a few weeks ago, we had visitors who flew over from the UK to see the Wohlenberg, as there are only three of these in the British Isles, ours being one, and the other two do not have our configuration.
On the publishing side there is far more competition and the pity is that a lot of these companies are sending the work out of this country. I have great admiration for Dr Kevin Byrne and the Print and Packaging Forum and for what they are trying to achieve with the PrintIrish license and brand. It seems crazy that we have big binding companies flying in from the UK to see what we have here in Cork and, in the meantime, the work is going over there.”
The company’s self publishing service offers a cradle to grave solution, from a template in which to start typing, through to editing, proofing and formatting, to the finished books. “A typical order might be 300 paperbacks with 50 hard bound copies for a book launch for friends and family,” says Frank. “We can run mono on our brand new Nuvera 144 from Xerox but we can also print colour or add colour pages using the latest Xerox technology with EA toners to give a completely ‘flat’ look to the colour images.”
On the general printing side
Lettertec’s range of equipment means they can supply anything from a leather bound, foil blocked and titled log book or registry book, to a full colour (with variable data) promotional piece for a marketing agency. “We have a Pfaffle automatic puncher for wire binding reports, a Heidelberg SM 52 for general stationery work, two guillotines plus the three knife trimmer, two foil blocking machines, two laminators, a small platen, five Xerox digital production engines, and much more!’ says Frank. “We also have online ordering software which allows our clients to log in, make artwork changes to PDFs on line and place orders, as well as view their transaction history.”
Future Growth & Investment
“I see future growth coming from the publishing side of the business right now,” says Frank. “We are always updating the ‘bucket list’ of machines that we would like to have so we are planning further investment over the next 12 months. I am optimistic about the future of our own company. There are challenges out there, such as new technologies like iPads, Kindles, e-Booksetc, but there will always be something new around the corner. You just have to find your particular niche or USP and develop that. If you do good work, people will find you.”