Lee produces an average of 87,000 publications each week and uses about 40,000 pounds of newsprint. Over 95 percent of our printing is our own publications. Our goal is to upgrade the appearance of our publications and to also serve the commercial printing needs of publishers and customers in our surrounding area. To do this we needed to bring in some newer and faster equipment.
Pre-press was tackled first with a myriad of upgrades to software and computer systems. The latest versions of the Adobe Creative Cloud are used for ad creation, pagination and editorial layout. Computers were upgraded from at least four generations past to current, very fast Apple computers.
The upgrades in software and computers were followed by a large investment in moving to computer to plate technology. We purchased a Kodak Trendsetter News CTP machine in August of last year. This was a big step in increasing the quality of our end product as well as eliminating the chemical development process. Now, once the layout department finishes a page, it is sent directly to the computer to plate (CTP) device. The CTP takes the image and uses lasers to print the image on the printing plate. The plates are recyclable aluminum with a coating on them that the laser removes to produce the image. From the CTP machine, plates go directly to the printing press. Our prior system took three different steps to produce the same plate. That process also used a chemical process for developing the film, which in turn caused an environmental risk.
Our final (for now) upgrade was to our printing press itself. Customers are demanding more color and high quality printing. Our search for the right equipment started about a year ago. We narrowed our search down to two manufacturers and then took the time to visit printing plants that were using them. Mr. Lee, president, Bruce Button, vice president and Harry Delong, shop foreman, visited several operations and were able to talk to the pressmen at each place to find out what they liked or disliked about their presses. We visited printing plants in Western New York, Northern Virginia and Northern California before deciding to go with two Quad Stack units from Web Press Corporation, based in Kent, WA.
These press units were installed the first week of January. Harry Delong and our press crew worked with their installers to get them installed and ready to print over one weekend so as to not affect our tight publication schedules. Where we had the ability to print eight pages of full color in a 32-page section, we can now print 24 pages of full color in a 32-page section. This gives us greater flexibility in ad placement as well as enhanced editorial options.
This increased color capacity now enables us to solicit commercial print jobs that we were not capable of doing in the past. It also allows us to print larger full color sections for our existing publications that will reduce the number of press runs and also make it easier to process them after they are printed.
Lee Newspapers, Inc. publishes 14 different titles of trade and consumer publications and also produces five trade shows every year. Our offices also provide a wide range of printed products from business cards to catalogs to posters and banners. All of our contact information can be found at www.leepub.com or call 1-800-218-5586 to talk to a sale representative.