Strine Printing Company Inc.
Strine Printing Company Inc.
30 Grumbacher Road
York, Pennsylvania 17402
Telephone: (717) 767-6602
Toll Free: (800) 477-8746
Fax: (717) 505-3227
Web site: http://www.strine.com
Sales: $80 million (2006 est.)
NAIC: 323110 Commercial Lithographic Printing; 323119 Other Commercial Printing
Strine Printing Company Inc. is a family owned and operated, state-of-the-art, full-service printing company. It is the largest commercial sheet-fed printer in the northeast United States and one of the 70 largest printing companies in North America. With a pair of temperature and humidity controlled plants, at a combined size of 400,000 square feet, Strine is able to keep all activities in-house.
Capabilities include prepress services, including digital file conversions, color correction, and making plates for press; digital printing with a Hewlett-Packard/ Indigo system capable of quickly completing short run projects in up to seven colors; some of the largest presses in the industry, which can accommodate long runs of high quality commercial work as well as folding carton and point of purchase (POP) displays; ten 40-inch Heidelberg Speedmaster presses for the quick turnaround of general print jobs; packaging services, including computer-aided design (CAD) operators and mock-up capabilities; the ability to print on vinyl, plastics, and other substrates; finishing services, including embossing, die cutting, foil stamping, gluing, lenticular, UV coating, film lamination, folding, tipping, binding, scenting, glitter application, and raised thermographic printing; and kitting (the assembling of printed products) and fulfillment services, which include the use of three delivery vans and a pair of 24-foot trucks, and inventory control.
Print projects include folding carton and packaging, covers and book jackets, brochures, direct-mail pieces, trading cards, greeting cards, promotion print items, sales kits, and point-of-sales counter displays. Clients include Topps, the sports trading card company; Paramount Cards, a greeting card company; Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.; National Geographic Society; the marketing firm of Eric Mower and Associates; Lego; AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP; Sepracor Inc., a pharmaceutical firm; publisher Reed Business; MeadWestvaco Corporation, a school supplies and packaging company; reference publisher Facts on File; and fragrance company Coty Inc. Chief executive officer Michael Strine is the son of the company’s founder, Walter J. Strine, Jr.
WORLD WAR II ORIGINS
Walter Strine was born in 1918 in York, Pennsylvania, some 60 miles west of Philadelphia in the heart of Amish country. When he was in his early 20s, in 1941, he bought a small hand-fed letterpress and in his spare time at night began teaching himself to become a printer, his immediate goal being to supplement his income. He was fascinated with the printing trade and kept abreast of the latest technology, a penchant that would later serve him well. By 1947 he was ready to turn his sideline into a full-fledged business and set up shop with his small press in his parents’ garage. The business prospered and two years later he was able to move into his own larger garage. The next step came in 1952 when Strine opened his first commercial print shop.
FOUNDER RETIRES: 1986
Strine enjoyed steady growth as he added customers and equipment. By the early 1960s he outgrew his space, and in 1964 he moved again, to an even larger facility in York. He began to add on to the space, completing a significant expansion in 1970, and three years later he opened the first wing of the company’s present-day plant. A second wing followed in 1980 as Strine pursued a strategy of vertical integration, of bringing everything in-house. By the time Strine retired in 1986, he had achieved that goal.
As described by Graphic Arts Monthly in a 1986 profile that appeared shortly before the founder’s retirement, Strine Printing’s one-story building, which housed 170 employees, had become “one of the most comprehensive, self-contained full-service graphic arts complexes in the Central Pennsylvania region.” In order to guarantee on-time delivery to its customers, Strine Printing had brought everything in-house. According to Graphic Arts Monthly, “‘Everything’ starts with a complete art department and ends with full-fledged bindery capabilities, including hot and cold film laminating, shrink wrapping, die cutting and embossing. In between, of course, are typesetting, color preparation, camera, and platemaking facilities to support Strine’s production battery of 16 offset presses.” Shortly before Walter Strine retired, the company invested in a pair of Pantone Formula Scales as soon as the computerized color system became available. It was ideally suited to precisely match the color of a customer’s logo, for example. In many ways, Strine Printing had evolved into a full-service printer in order to cater to the corporate client, emphasizing quality and service. “That’s what our largest customers like about us,” Patrick Strine, one of Walter’s sons, told Graphic Arts Monthly, continuing, “They can see how their job is progressing anytime they want.”
Walter’s Strine’s son Michael succeeded him as president and continued to grow the business at a steady clip. A year later, in 1987, Strine Printing opened a third wing to the York plant at a cost of $1.8 million. The additional 70,000 square feet of space all but doubled the size of the facility. The new wing housed manufacturing and warehousing operations as well as new office space.
In January 1994 Walter Strine died at the age of 75. He left a printing operation that was a far cry from the hand-fed press he installed in his parents’ garage nearly half a century before. Strine Printing grew at a rate of 12 percent to 18 percent a year in the 1990s, as a host of new major customers, such as sports cards makers Topps and Fleer, came on board. The company specialized in the specialty cards, ones requiring special glosses or foil treatments. However, cards represented only about 3 percent of Strine Printing’s revenues. The bulk of the work came from pharmaceutical firms such as Merck & Co. Inc., confection company Mars Inc., the U.S. Post Office, and Binney & Smith Inc., makers of Crayola crayons.
Our 375 seasoned print professionals work 24/7 and are at the ready to demonstrate just what “All in One Package” means.
By the mid-1990s Strine Printing had once again outgrown its space. A fourth wing and another 70,000 square feet of space was added to the York plant in September 1997, bringing the total amount of space to 250,000 square feet. Soon the expanded facility quickly became cramped as well, due largely to the ongoing investment in the latest state-of-the-art printing equipment. In 1998, for example, a $4.5 million, 11-color Heidelberg printer, 64 feet long and 8 feet high, was installed. It was faster than the 7-color printers and offered far better color consistency. This was followed by a $10 million investment in a set of large format printers, which would allow the company to bid on profitable large format jobs. By the end of the 1990s, Strine Printing employed 450 people and posted annual revenues in the $60 million range. It was much larger than the vast majority of printers, which were small shops doing about $1.5 million in business each year, but in order to keep pace in an industry that offered ever improving, and very expensive, technology, Strine Printing had to keep growing. After several additions, the company faced a land shortage: only 60,000 square feet of space remained for development.
To address the space crunch, Strine Printing considered two options, after first rejecting the idea of simply limiting growth. The company had enough customers to support further expansion, and rather than see someone else take the business and perhaps threaten its future prospects, management concluded that it would expand to seize the opportunity. Because about 21 percent of its business was done for New York and New Jersey businesses, primarily in the pharmaceutical industry, the company considered building a major plant in northern New Jersey. Or, on the other hand, it could build a second plant on another site in York. In the end, Strine Printing adopted a compromise, agreeing to start a satellite operation in New Jersey while adding a York facility.
SECOND YORK PLANT OPENS: 2000
In 2000 a 50,000-square-foot facility opened in Pine Brook, New Jersey, near New York City. Employing about 75, it was intended to serve customers from Philadelphia through New York. In the meantime, Strine Printing paid $800,000 for a 10-acre parcel of land at Broad and Church roads off Interstate 83’s Exit 11, not far from the main plant. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also provided some incentives to encourage the company to build a new facility within the state, providing $1.25 million in loans and another $100,000 in state grants and $375,000 in job creation tax credits.
The new Broad Road facility was about 150,000 square feet in size. The company’s recently launched packaging division was relocated here, freeing up space at the main plant and allowing the 60,000 square feet of undeveloped land to remain in reserve. In the fall of 2000 Strine Printing began recruiting new workers, about 150 in all, to operate the new plant. Total employment, as a result, approached 600 by the end of the year.
For once, Strine Printing’s timing proved poor. The economy, which had been robust for several years, faltered. Printing sales all across the country dropped and Strine Printing was not immune to the downturn. About half of the 150 workers hired in 1999 were laid off, while another 50 or 60 temporary workers were also let go as demand fell. To make matters worse for employees, the company’s high-tech printers also made them expendable because the machines simply needed fewer workers to operate them. By the summer of 2002, business conditions improved and sales picked up, but Strine Printing’s headcount continued to dwindle through attrition to about 400. The Pine Brook satellite operation also fell victim to the economic downturn and was closed.
Even though times were tight, the company did not shy away from investing in new equipment, both to keep up with a long-term industry switch to digital technology and to take advantage of new areas of opportunity, especially packaging. Several years earlier the company became involved in the field at the request of a customer who wanted the printer to handle its folding carton business. Strine Printing took an incremental approach to entering the packaging sector. It already had cutting and stamping capability, and now added a single folder gluer. As business picked up, more of these units were acquired. The company then expanded into signage and POP displays. To support this work, in 2004 Strine Printing installed the first 73-inch MAN Roland XXL sheetfed press in North America, and the first of these extrawide units in the world to be installed with inline coating and UV drying capabilities. For Strine Printing, its commitment to packaging was a matter of “in for a penny, in for a pound.” Vice-President of Operations David Kornbau told American Printer, “Once you buy a press, you’ve got to buy a cutter. Then you’ve got to buy the finishing. And all this large-format stuff is quite pricey.” Nonetheless, the extra expense created a high cost of entry and limited competition in the category. The 900 XXL printer also brought in other types of sales because it was able to handle such substrates as plastic and heavy board. Furthermore, because of its large format the printer could produce a 64-page signature on a single sheet, allowing it to reduce the time it took to turn around such jobs as catalogs, brochures, and annual reports.
- Walter Strine buys hand-fed printer.
- Strine begins printing business in parents’ garage.
- Strine’s first commercial print shop opens in York, Pennsylvania.
- Operation moves to larger facility.
- New plant wing opens.
- Walter Strine retires.
- Strine dies.
- Broad Street plant opens.
Strine Printing’s achievement in packaging, signage, and displays, and continued success in commercial printing was reflected in the half-dozen regional industry awards it took home from the Graphic Arts Association Neographics Awards in 2005. They included awards for point-of-purchase and display, and cartons (four colors or more), as well as for work in greeting cards and finishing. Later in the year Strine Printing also received national recognition, garnering a pewter award for Rigid Packaging and a bronze for Point of Purchase Display at the annual Gold Ink Awards, sponsored by PrintMedia and Printing Impressions magazines.
Sales hovered around the $80 million mark in 2006. During the year, the company continued to invest in new equipment. A seven-color, 64-inch Roland 900 XXL press with UV capabilities was added to help with the POP business. To boost its packaging business, Strine Printing also purchased a window patching machine, capable of applying a cellophane window to any packaging product. Investments continued in 2007 when Strine Printing increased its in-house capabilities even further with the addition of a new sheet-to-sheet Litho Laminator for display and POP projects. It was capable of joining a printed label sheet with a base sheet to create materials that were thicker than what even a large format printer could handle. Strine Printing was also expected in 2007 to take the next step in printers by adding a 81-inch KBA Rapida super large format press.
Edison Litho & Printing Corporation; Gannett Fleming, Inc.; General Press Corporation.
Adkins, Sean, “Pennsylvania Firm Seeks Mechanical Workers to Staff New Printing Plant,” York Daily Record (York, Pa.), October 14, 2000.
Althoff, Amy, “Local Company Covers All of the Printing Bases,” York Daily Record (York, Pa.), February 2, 1999, p. A08.
_____, “Strine Making Duplicates,” York Daily Record (York, Pa.), April 27, 1999, p. C05.
_____, “‘There’s More to This Morning’: ‘This Morning’ Is in the Cards for Strine Printing,” York Daily Record (York, Pa.), February 2, 1999.
Cagle, Erik, “The Printer’s Candy Store,” Printing Impressions, September 2006, p. 22.
Crenshaw, Russ, “Walter J. Strine Jr. Dies,” York Daily Record (York, Pa.), January 12, 1994, p. A05.
“Keeping It All In-House,” Graphic Arts Monthly, May 1986, p. 128.
Reardon, Dennis, “Printer Suffers Staff Cuts,” Central Penn Business Journal, August 30, 2002, P. 3.
Vruno, Mark, “Heavy Weight: A 73″ Wide Sheetfed Press Is Creating a Large-Format Niche for a Big, Family-Owned Printer,” Graphic Arts Monthly, September 2005, p. 56.