Walk through the facility of Stuttgart, Arkansas-based Drummond Printing, Inc. (UPIC: DRUMLINE), and it feels strangely familiar. “When people come to visit us, they always ask, ‘What was this building?’” says CEO Amberlea Barnes.
Twelve years ago, it was a Wal-Mart; now it’s a bustling manufacturing plant with an output of nearly two million journals last year.
Before the move, the supplier was stationed in seven separate buildings in downtown Stuttgart. “We have a traditional downtown area, and we were running forklifts down alleys and across streets,” Barnes recalls. “We’ve grown, and when this building became available, we consolidated everything into one large space. We renovated to fit our needs with office, production and warehouse space.”
With manufacturing conveniently under one roof, Barnes and her team are equipped to produce custom journals completely from scratch. They buy materials in raw format, print all the inside sheets, and do all the cutting, punching and binding in-house.
“It’s a totally custom product, and we’re still able to have an average five-working-day turnaround,” says Barnes. “It really says something about our efficiency and how we make everything ourselves. Not many suppliers do this anymore—they do much more decorating than manufacturing.”
Producing The Journals
No matter the journal style, the process is the same: Customers choose from nine standard sizes or opt for a custom size. Then, they decide if the standard 100 sheets are best for the project. There’s always the option to include more or fewer pages.
“We buy paper in huge rolls by the truckload and print it on a web press,” Barnes says. “We print and warehouse stock rules for quick turnaround times. We can then customize these sheets to anything the customer wants.”
Customization is a key selling point—but it’s not without its challenges. “We have 80 different cover choices for the journals. Some are smooth, some are textured, some are faux leather,” explains Barnes. “It’s challenging to help distributors understand how to sell the product when there are so many options. It’s not as easy as ‘Here’s a journal. Now choose from red, black and blue.’”
Even deciding which materials to keep in stock can be intimidating. “We can create journals out of any material, and there are thousands of choices for cover materials,” she says. “Narrowing it down is fun, but challenging too.”
It wasn’t until four years ago that the Shadowbox Journal had its own name and catalog page. It was a move to both simplify the options and call attention to the journal’s capabilities.
“Its 3-D effect makes it a unique advertising piece. We can do custom shapes and four-color insert sheets,” Barnes says. “This journal makes a splash at first impact with the cover, and then once you get inside the book, there can be details about a product launch, a schedule of events or information about the company that’s giving it away.”
And since Drummond prints all its own paper in-house, each sheet can be customized. “One journal creates so many impressions. It’s amazing to be able to print a website or logo on every piece of paper,” Barnes says. “Recipients will see it over and over as they use the book.”
If customers want a custom shape, they simply send in artwork for a die to be made. Decoration options run the gamut: offset printing, digital printing, foil stamping, debossing, embossing, screen printing and pad printing.
Most of the production is automated, but there is some hand labor involved. For example, machines are hand-fit during the foil-stamping process. “There’s a craftsmanship element to making journals,” says Barnes. “When printing the inside sheets, there’s a set-up process to make sure the color is right. And there’s tweaking at the press to make sure it’s coming out exactly right.”
Everything happens simultaneously during the production process. The front cover, which is die cut and possibly has a foil stamp or debossed imprint, goes through one line. Insert sheets are printed on one press, and inside sheets flow through a third press.
Each component is cut to size, assembled and put through the wire-o binding (double-wire) machine. Then the journals are shrink-wrapped five per package, boxed and out the door.
Barnes says the journals are most common for corporate and internal use because of their office-readiness. “Even with technology, people still like to write things down. Journals are convenient too—you can go to a meeting and take notes quietly,” she says, “but you can’t go to a meeting, pop up your laptop and type away without some distraction. Journals make excellent giveaways for anybody who’s working.”
Behind The Scenes At Drummond Printing, Inc.
Number of employees: 65
Factory square footage: 60,000 square feet
Number of years at current facility: 12
Number of machines on factory floor: 56. “There’s a mix of old and new technology, with some machines dating back to the 1800s,” Barnes says.
Number of journals produced annually: Nearly two million
Drummond Printing’s Top 10 Journal Covers
1. Classic black
3. Royal blue
4. 100-percent recycled natural
5. Custom full-color
6. Pine green
7. Dark brown
8. True red
10. Translucent orange peel