Sometimes progress takes investment.
This is especially the case in the turbulent economic times facing today’s print media. Without taking a step forward, businesses can often end up behind the pack.
And that’s precisely why The Daily Gazette is making a $1.5 million investment in a replacement printing press for its operations on Maxon Road Extension. The lightly used press — with five Manugraph DGM 440 towers — will help the Hume family-owned newspaper cut costs and open new revenue streams at a time when both its print and online circulation is steadily rising.
The Gazette’s total circulation increased by about 5 percent between March 2012 and March 2013, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. Among those figures, the newspaper gained about 1,000 new print readers compared to last year’s figures — an increase of about 2.8 percent.
“Our print readership is growing and to see that type of growth just reinforces that print can still play a role to the consumer,” said Dan Beck, The Gazette’s general manager. “It’s a commitment from the Hume family to the community, its employees and the company.”
The company closed the deal to buy the offset press last Friday, using a loan from the First National Bank of Scotia. The DGM 440 towers will be installed by Independent Press Services of Pennsylvania and the total project will be overseen by Clifford H. Quay and Sons, a Schenectady-based general contractor.
“We are looking forward to producing a full-color product that shares news and entertainment with our readers as well as highlights all the great businesses in the area with advertising,” said Elizabeth Hume Lind, president of The Gazette’s board of directors. “Schenectady and the Capital Region are a vibrant, growing area with so much to offer and the Hume family and Gazette employees are making a long-term commitment through our print product as well as our digital offerings.”
The DGM 440 will replace the Colormax flexographic units The Gazette has used since 2003. Once an industry standard, the flexographic units are increasingly being replaced because of the prohibitive cost of producing the plates needed for the press.
“Unfortunately, it’s becoming obsolete,” Beck said.
The DGM 440 will be installed in the warehouse, where newsprint is now stored. Once the replacement press is online, the old press will be removed and sold.
Beck said switching to the DGM 440 will save The Gazette money in production costs. The new towers will streamline an operation that was slightly cumbersome during the pre-press process.
“We’ll become more cost-efficient and benefit from cost savings over our previous process,” he said.
Once operational, the one-around single-width offset press can whip through roughly 45,000 impressions per hour. In layman’s terms, The Gazette will be able to print the day’s paper in less than an hour.
“We’re going to continue the high quality work our readers and advertisers come to expect,” Beck said. “We put out the best print quality paper in the Capital Region.”
The towers can also print a variety of sizes — something the old press was incapable of doing. Beck said being able to print different sizes will also allow the newspaper to contract out printing services to other clients.
“This will allow us to pursue additional commercial work,” he said. “Our goal is to keep this press busy.”
The Gazette was able to purchase the lightly used units from AFL Web Printing, a Secaucus, N.J., printing company that closed its plant in February.
Beck said the alternative to buying a new press was to outsource the Gazette’s press operations. But that would have resulted in lost jobs for the paper and decreased flexibility for its print deadlines.
“We chose to keep people working at our plant, invest in the company and invest in the future,” he said. “Today, we believe in print and believe it will be there moving forward.”