PLACENTIA, CA – April 15, 2020 — Cockrell Enovation, based in Fort Worth, Texas, recently installed the RMGT 9 Series five-color press with LED-UV curing. For over 50 years, they have been leveraging printing technology to produce marketing collateral, packaging, point-of-sale, direct mail, signage and displays in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. Their recent investment in offset continues a trend of commercial printers re-defining their digital strategy as the economics of print manufacturing continues to evolve.
“In 2002, I had just finished my undergraduate studies,” states John Cockrell, Jr., Managing Director of Cockrell Enovation. “Coming into the family business, my first task was to write a business plan on digital printing. At that point in time, we were trying to drive the valuable part of digital printing. The assumption was that everything would be personalized with variable data… and that’s not actually what transpired.”
Cockrell describes their third-generation company as a “high touch” company with their clients generally falling into one of two buckets. About half of their customers are trying to solve problems related to some form of distribution, having multiple locations, a dispersed nationwide sales force, or multiple departments looking to streamline that print procurement process. The other half are looking to solve brand critical problems, usually event driven, or fairly complex pieces with a die-cut component or multiple types of coatings.
The latest iteration of Cockrell Enovation came in 2009, when they merged the digital print part of their business with their traditional offset print operations. “I had developed our large format division of the company,” continues Cockrell. “I had developed our digital store fronts. So my approach was always skewed to thinking of a digital solution.” Cockrell observes that their business flattened about three to four years ago, without a lot of opportunities for growth. Their typical print run was 7,500 impressions or less, so they made a strategic decision to remove two offset presses and replace them with an HP 10000 and two other Indigo presses. The assumption was that digital could handle the short run commercial work while making them competitive in the digital space.
“First of all, the click-charge cost model went out of control and it almost put us under,” declares Cockrell. “That’s when I started exploring offset solutions because I knew this wasn’t working. I took a deep dive into how offset with LED-UV stacks up with the digital print process and the results were startling. The more shops and presses that I saw, the more I realized that it’s been ingrained in our heads that digital was going to be the less expensive, more efficient solution. The fact is, that assumption is incorrect.”
Cockrell observes that the kind of work their clients are looking for is not simply pleasing color, which digital is capable of. Many jobs require the kind of specialty coatings that push the limit of the capabilities of digital. “It was startling to see the efficiencies of the offset side versus the digital side. The reality is that a digital press is just, flat out, not the print manufacturing solution for what we’re doing in a commercial environment. From a cost side, it was taking about an hour to run 1,000 sheets, four-over-four. Then with the monthly payment and the click charges that can run from $0.07 to $0.16 per sheet, and the cost for some specialty stocks, offset was a more cost-effective print production solution.”
Cockrell Enovations evaluated a number of offset press manufacturers such as RMGT, Heidelberg and Komori. “We want to align ourselves with people that are thinking about our business and not just trying to put something on our floor. I think that’s where RMGT really stood out. They took the time to understand what we were trying to accomplish and interpret that, as much as humanly possible, to help us explore options to solve print problems for our clients.”
The impact of investing in offset has had a very positive impact on the bottom line at Cockrell Enovations. The RMGT 9 Series press has automatic plate changing technology along with LED-UV curing technology that takes what used to be a 30-minute make-ready consuming 600 to 1,000 sheets down to a fraction of that. “In addition, we’re moving volume off the digital presses. At a thousand sheets per hour, running a job digital for two, three or four hours is just too long. When that happens, you start accumulating quite a bit of all the other hot things that have to get out today. So, we’ll be able to move short run jobs over to offset and, obviously, run that with a lower cost model.”
“I think the interesting thing is for us it’s almost like it’s coming full circle,” concludes Cockrell. “When we started with digital we learned to focus on those higher value applications, whether it’s variable or online storefront. We believed that as digital technology got more efficient, longer runs jobs and specialty jobs would just migrate over… but, that that didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, digital has a great place and brings great value in personalized applications that tie in with your online storefronts. But in a day in, day out, print environment, digital is not necessarily your best solution.”
“Cockrell Enovations has been an honest evaluator of the current print manufacturing landscape,” comments Kian Hemmen, Director of Sales, Print & Finishing Solutions, the RMGT distributor for the western United States. “They understand that commercial printers will flourish, not only by focusing on high value, high margin work, but also enabling that by choosing the most efficient print manufacturing technology available today. We are proud that offset print is a major part of the production mix and look forward to their continued success.”