By David Lindsay
Founded in 1930 as Valley Sales, a trading stamp business, Spectra Print Corp., Stevens Point, Wis., has grown to be a $14 million, 100-employee standard-bearer of growth and commercial shop productivity in the upper Midwest. Now, the standard of high-quality commercial work is being carried on by Eric Hofmeister, a third-generation leader for the firm.

The firm has been a competitor in the commercial printing market since the late 1950s, when founder Oscar A. Hofmeister changed its name from Valley Sales to Spectra Print. At the time, he also made two important additions to the firm: his son Richard and an offset press. Today, Richard Hofmeister is chairman, having handed the duties of president to his son, Eric.

Eric Hofmeister, who comes to the president’s position with more than 25 years of experience working at the firm, is able to run Spectra Print in the manner it has always operated — as a family business. His sister, Heidi Okray, is the firm’s treasurer, and his brother, Hans, is a vice president and runs the firm’s prepress operations. Richard Hofmeister is still a vital part of the business. “He comes in every day,” notes Eric Hofmeister.

Unlike his father’s experience coming into the industry, Eric Hofmeister isn’t taking up the reins of a firm that is just making a go at offset. He knows Spectra Print’s markets and its future prospects. He is charged with keeping the firm’s momentum going.WIS. SHEETFED STANDOUT SEES HALF-WEB AS ITS NEXT STEP

On the production side, Spectra Print is as progressive as any larger printing corporation. The firm runs seven sheetfeds and has a Komori half-web on order. Spectra Print also utilizes a full complement of Screen (USA) prepress and CTP technology. In short, Eric Hofmeister’s inherited all the makings of a regional leader with tremendous upside potential, and he and his family are working hard to keep Spectra Print that way.

First of all, in today’s market, that has meant maintaining market share, and a visible presence, with customers.

“We’re working as hard as we can at this,” notes Hofmeister. With a range of services to offer, from design and prepress through mail list management and direct mailing, the slow economy hasn’t slowed the pace at Spectra Print. The economy has, however, lead to weak periods among many area printers, which has in turn affected pricing at Spectra as it tries to keep work from going to hungry competitors.

“I hope pricing doesn’t keep coming down,” says Hofmeister of the business environment in what is now his fifth month as Spectra’s president. “When printers are busy, pricing comes up.”

With its range of presses — everything from a single-color 13×17″ press to a pair of 41″ KBA six-color sheetfeds — the firm retains a capacity, and the range of capability, that can draw new work.

A big proposition

And, at a time when many are wondering if the next step for commercial work lies in the arena of short-run digital, the firm sees its opportunity for dramatic growth in the half-web Komori System 20 press it will install in the spring of 2002.

The press is an eight-page system designed to bring web economies of scale to high-quality sheetfed commercial environments. It features a new inker alignment system for high print quality, short makereadies, 90-second folder changeovers, cylinder presetting, quick lockup for plate mounting, continuous dampening and temperature-controlled copper vibrator rollers for stable ink control throughout the run.

Hofmeister notes that the new Komori press, which runs at 45,000 impressions per hour, will allow the firm to build on its
current niche.

“There’s always going to be long-run jobs,” he notes, “but the System 20 will also allow us to do a lot of our sheetfed work more economically.”

In short, the System 20 represents a tremendous opportunity to move a number of jobs off of the sheetfeds, reducing Spectra Print’s cost per piece and freeing up the sheetfeds to take on even more work.

It’s an exciting proposition at the Wisconsin firm, especially in a down market. While Hofmeister figures this year’s sales will be flat, Spectra Print anticipates doing as much as 20% to 25% more business once the Komori is in place.



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