Company triples sheetfed capacity, expands customer offer, cuts job turnaround time in half—all for half the cost of 40-inch press with conventional dryers
Apex Color is $8.5 million-revenue trade printer with 55 employees
JACKSONVILLE, Florida - When Richard Ghelerter decided it was time to expand Apex Color, his long-established trade printing business, he looked at both new and used 40-inch offset presses.
The used equipment didn’t have the latest technology and was quickly disqualified. New 40-inch presses were very expensive—yet still lacked the most advanced drying technology.
Then he heard about a press from RYOBI MHI Graphic Technology that intrigued him. The five-color RYOBI MHI 925 LED-UV press delivers full-bleed, 16-page signature printing and built-in instant curing. This press had the potential to give him the big boost in print quality, capacity and throughput he sought.
So he headed to RYOBI MHI’s Southeast U.S. distributor, Paper Handling Solutions, to check out the fully equipped 36-inch press as it produced instantly cured print at more than 16,000 sph. RYOBI MHI is one of the world’s largest offset pressmakers. In Florida, RYOBI MHI offset presses are represented by Graphics IV in Orlando, FL.
Ghelerter, a veteran third-generation printer, was impressed. The print quality was perfect and makereadies were wrapped up in minutes. The machine was robust, including a heavy-duty feeder, double-diameter cylinders and transfer drums. The LED-UV curing system eliminated all problems of conventional hot dryers, sipped energy, and ensured print jobs could be routed immediately to the bindery and customer.
Ghelerter talked to the owner of Imprimerie Reflet, a trade printer in Montreal, Canada, who bought the RYOBI MHI 925 LED-UV press in early 2014. He reported it performed well under rigorous production conditions—and was the crown jewel of his fast-growing company.
Tony Rice, Ghelerter’s commercial print production manager, went to have a look for himself. “I’ve been in print production for more than 40 years and had experience with Ryobi’s smaller presses,” Rice explained. “But once I put that big press through all the paces, I was confident it would be a great fit for our company.”
Then there was the price: nearly half what other German and Japanese manufacturers were quoting for their 16-page signature presses—equipment that did not feature built-in LED-UV instant cure.
Ghelerter thought carefully, crunched all the numbers, then made the decision to invest in the RYOBI MHI. “Looking at every aspect, the 925 LED-UV press is real bang for the buck.” It was delivered in late December, was at full production within a week, and its outsized impact was felt immediately.
“Just the other day, we had a job for 3,000 32-page books with cover that we had to print, fold, stitch and deliver in under 24 hours,” he said. “The press allowed us to handle the job with ease and we were able to please a very demanding, discerning customer.”
Apex Color has deep history as a Southeast U.S. print industry leader
In addition to its commercial printing business, 100% exclusively to the trade, Apex Color is one of the largest business forms printers in the Southeast U.S. Equipment includes five rotary forms presses and four collators. The company’s distributors sell to customers ranging from small retailers to some of the world’s largest health and financial services companies.
Ghelerter is a third-generation Jacksonville printer. His grandfather started as a printer’s apprentice at Mendelson Printing in Jacksonville in 1915, shortly after emigrating from Romania. He rose up the ranks, and 20 years later, purchased Mendelson, which he and his children ran for decades.
“With six members of my family in commercial printing, the likelihood of my not going into the printing business was pretty slim,” Richard Ghelerter recalls. “But I did want to strike out on my own.”
In 1974, his father Irvin and uncle Clarence invested $10,000 apiece to help Richard start a printing company focused exclusively on business forms. Richard bought a used Didde Press with a Didde Snap Collator—low-cost versions of the heavy-duty forms-making equipment—and immediately established Apex Business Forms in Jacksonville.
“It was a little tough getting started,” he recalls. “An employee and I were out in the morning contacting customers, then headed back to the shop in the afternoon, printing and collating often late into the evenings. Eventually, I began serving forms distributors who needed an independent producer to support them, so we grew together.”
Though he had expanded his operation in the 1980s and the early 1990s, technology began eroding demand for printed forms. “The big players were expanding into services and the overall pie was getting smaller. But because of our reputation for quality and service, our slice kept growing,” Ghelerter said.
By 1998, he decided to expand into commercial printing. Two operations were consolidated into a new 30,000-square foot production center in downtown Jacksonville. Two 20x26-inch Shinohara presses were added. In 2011, an expansion into digital printing helped build the business further.
By 2014, Ghelerter knew that to continue to grow in the future, he would need to modernize his offset footprint with a new, high-tech 16-page signature press. Today, the RYOBI MHI 925 LED-UV press cost-efficiently delivers a range of print products that impress his customers for their quality and turnaround speed. “No question—this press is a winning investment.” More information about Apex Color is at www.apexcolor.net.