Kennesaw, Ga. – Mele Printing, a forty-year-old commercial printer based in Covington, LA, is on track to achieve 20% growth in sales this year. After coming out of the COVID-19 slowdown, the company wanted to be well-positioned to handle all of its customers’ growing demands. Deciding to completely “overhaul” its bindery department, Mele Printing recently replaced its older cutters and folders with two POLAR N78 PLUS and two POLAR N137 PLUS cutters, a POLAR jogger, Stahlfolder KH 82, Stahlfolder TH 82, and Stahlfolder BH 56 from Heidelberg.
Labor Saving Investments
Mele Printing produces for virtually every market, including higher education, manufacturing, energy, insurance, credit unions, and utilities; it is also considered the largest political printer in Louisiana. With such a broad customer base, the company’s aging finishing equipment was struggling to keep up with the volume of work being printed on its Speedmaster XL 105, XL 75, and Versafire digital press. Mele, who already experienced a significant efficiency boost after installing a Stahlfolder KH 82 a few years ago, opted not to continue replacing individual pieces of equipment but instead completely revamp the entire department. The KH 82, which runs a lot of the company’s signature work, has improved Mele’s throughput by over 25%. “This folder has made such a big difference for us,” said Owner Mallery Mele. “It really took the ‘wear and tear’ off of our operator because once the skid is loaded, the machine really takes over.”
Labor savings, in fact, is playing a main role in many of the company’s current investment decisions. According to Mele, “Labor is the big challenge that everyone is facing right now. When I look a new machine now, I’m asking – can it add more productivity; save makeready time; is it easier to operate; or is it easier to train someone to run.” Based on the results of the KH 82 and equipped with only one full-time folder operator, Mele decided to then replace its older two folders with a new Stahlfolder TH 82 and BH 56. Each folder was carefully selected based on the diverse set of jobs that Mele typically runs. The combination of the machines’ higher speeds and advanced makeready automation has helped both meet its customers’ deadlines and exceed their quality expectations. According to Folder Operator Ryan Schech, “The new folders have drastically cut down the time to set-up and run a job. This morning, it took me only 20 minutes to set-up, makeready, and run a customer’s job. It would have taken at least twice as long on our older folder!”
Quality Products, Quality Service
Looking to keep pace with its new folders, Mele also recently installed (4) POLAR cutters to replace aging models in its shop. Strategically stationed, the two new POLAR N137 PLUS cutters are dedicated solely to cutting sheets from the company’s XL 105 while one of its new POLAR N78 PLUS cutters services work from the XL 75 and the other is for the company’s digital department. With higher speeds, a faster airtable and backstop, enhanced touchscreen and automation features, the new cutters mean sheets are not only trimmed faster but material handling is much easier and more efficient than before. “Part of the reason we bought these new cutters,” said Mele, “is that we felt they could help our operators get at least one more job completed each day. At the end of the week, month, that starts to add up.”
After years of experience with Heidelberg, Mele Printing is still impressed by the quality of the service technicians the company has in the field. During its recent installation of the TH 82, the company was surprised to find the machine was larger than anticipated. “At first, we thought we were in trouble,” said Production Manager Mike Morgan, “but between our team and the Heidelberg technicians, they reconfigured our production floor, and we actually have more room than we did before! We really value our relationship with our local technicians.” In addition to the superior service team, Mele Printing also believes that Heidelberg continues to make the highest quality equipment in the industry. “We could buy something less expensive,” said Mele, “but I call these ‘throw away’ machines because you have to get rid of them in a few years. Our experience with Heidelberg products shows they have the longevity for years of reliable operation.”
About Mele Printing
Mele Printing was established in May 1985 by the father and son team of Mal and Mallery Mele. The company has grown from humble beginnings as a small quick-print shop of 1,000 square feet and three employees to a nationally-recognized leader among large commercial printers. Mele Printing continually strives to bring the latest advances in technology and to provide the best in service to our client partners. With the recent 20,000 square foot addition to our 50,000 square foot, state of the art facility at 619 North Tyler Street in Covington, Mele Printing makes a giant leap into the future of digital printing. Our footprint now encompasses half a city block and is filled with new technology to meet the wants and needs of any customer’s request and cover the gambit of printing needs any customer may have. With strong roots in the community, Mele Printing prides itself on being a complete source for all printing and business solution needs.
Image includes, left to right: Ed Ramsey, Head of Bindery, Mele Printing; Ryan Schech, Folder Operator, Mele Printing; Mike Morgan, Production Manager, Mele Printing; John Diaz, Bindery Operator, Mele Printing; Mallery Mele, Owner, Mele Printing
Director, Marketing & Sales Excellence