VOLUME 17 ISSUE 1 Winter 2001

Table of Contents

Schedules and On-Time Delivery Improve

Now that’s a headline we’ve been hoping to print for quite some time. Especially after coming off a typically strong Fall’s worth of work. You might remember some of our past headlines that talked of “shooting ourselves in the foot” because we were not able to get work out in a timely manner during the busy season. Well, hopefully those days are behind us. We feel they are. Our confidence in the new processes we have implemented is very high as we have seen steady progress since last Spring and continue to see overall improvements. 

We’ve basically all been reprogrammed to think differently about how we approach our manufacturing process. We moved from what we call a “cost world” to a “throughput world”. The difference between the two is quite dramatic as we use different decision criteria in setting objectives and solving problems. The results of those decisions have led us to increase our staff by 20% compared to this same time last year. We found one of the problems we had was that we were trying to get work through here with as little people as possible (“cost world” thinking) instead of making sure we had adequate staff to handle fluctuations in work. We had the machinery to get the work through; we just didn’t have the people.

We also found that we were too balanced in our plant. Our goal had been to make sure we could move a certain level of work through the entire plant. This resulted in work piling up in various areas as fluctuations of work made their way through the plant. What we have now is an unbalanced plant with one control point that dictates how much work we can put through. All the other areas of the plant are capable of putting more work through. So now we schedule to this point of control and all of the work flows freely to it and out of it.

These are just a couple of the highlights of what Theory of Constraints (TOC) has led us to do. Overall, this type of thinking and these ideas fit right into the philosophies upon which Ned and Harry founded this organization. TOC impresses on us the importance of our people and our customers.

First of all, we realize more than ever how important it is to have well-trained individuals who all work together as part of our team, helping us to improve processes. Fortunately, several of our new employees have many years of experience, but in addition to them learning T-S processes, there are other new employees who don’t have the advantage of this knowledge. Because of this, our training efforts are ongoing, and we see even brighter things for the future when everyone is more comfortable in their position.

Secondly, we are also reminded of how important our relationship is with each of our customers. Through this process, we have been able to work on some “internal” improvements to help decrease our cycle-time and create a more reliable delivery process. As we continue to improve in the future, we will begin to look to areas where our relationship with you comes into play. For example, places where you have interaction with our process such as prepress proofs, check copies, and shipping instructions become very crucial to making sure the work continues to flow in the front door and out the back. In the months to come we will talk more about these issues and find ways for you to help us which will in turn help you.

Finally, I want to add that on the back of this issue in Ned’s News, Ned praises us for what we have been able to accomplish with TOC. All of us here want to recognize him and Harry for allowing us to be able to do it. He gives us the credit, but if it were not for their vision nearly 30 years ago of how a company should be run and their ability to make that a reality, we would not have had the right people in place to even make this work. As I said above, TOC flows naturally out of our culture. Had they not created that culture, we would not have been able to accomplish what we have. 

-Todd Gaffner, Customer Care

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T-S Produces New Cookbook 

In December, many of you received our newest publication, Recipes Galore from Thomson-Shore. Usually we pick a book and with permission from the publisher, manufacture a couple thousand extra copies to distribute to our customers and employees around the holidays. This year we decided to do our own book. It started back in August of 1999 with a group of employees submitting an idea to produce another cookbook. It had been ten years since our first (and last) cookbook, so they felt we should put together a group to create a new one. In addition to being sent out to you, they thought it would be useful for promotional purposes to send as a sample or to give away at shows where we exhibit. 

Well, I don’t think even they realized exactly what they were in for over the course of the next 16 months. All I can say is that we have a better appreciation for what each of you as publishers go through in preparing a project to come to us. 

It started with contests to come up with a title and cover design. Adam Hieber from our press department came up with the title, and the cover layout was designed by Tracy Simons from our prepress department. The team then worked on getting recipes from employees, entering and typesetting all the recipes, finding pictures from the T-S archives that would work for the various chapter headers, and finally arranging with some of our vendors to have them help with some of the expenses. Of course, this sounds a lot simpler than it really was. Pictured below is the cookbook committee who spent countless hours on this project. As the project sponsor, I really wasn’t too involved until the end. From the very first meeting where a timeline was laid out to some of the last meetings of getting it all wrapped up, this group of people worked very hard and produced a final product that they should all be proud of. 

If you did not receive a copy of Recipes Galore from Thomson-Shore and would like one, please contact anyone here at T-S and we’ll make sure you get a copy.


Front row (l-r): Sheri Circele, Sandy Smith, Angie Jones, Jean Virgne, Margaret Ramsay. Back row (l-r): Terri Rose, Tina Navarre, Julia Jensen, Todd Gaffner (project sponsor), Kay Stevens, Diane Fadden, Laurie Briegel, Maria Smith. T-S Produces New Cookbook  

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Output Ready PDF Tips  

Here is a summary of things that may cause you grief during your PDF file preparation.

 • QuarkXPress has an option in the print dialog box that refers to “Full Resolution Tiff Output.” Ensure this is checked, otherwise when the PostScript is written Quark may downsample images based on the PPD and linescreen selected. PageMaker has a similar option called “Optimized Subsampling” this drop down menu in the Print dialog should be set to “Normal” for images in PageMaker. 

• If you have files that have bleed pages, you should deselect the “Optimize” option in the Acrobat Distiller 4.x job options. When a file is optimized it will clip any information that extends outside the page region. Another workaround is to use an oversize page when the PostScript is written. This will retain the bleeds as well.

• In Acrobat Distiller, deselect the “Preserve OPI Comments” option. When we use our preflight software, the OPI comments prevent us from verifying the resolution of your graphics. We have had several files submitted that inadvertently contained low-resolution graphics and this was not discovered until the job was printed.

• Set the fonts to Embed and Subset. Subsetting limits the amount of editing to a file, but helps with getting the expected fonts on the proofs, film and plates.

• If your file is using AdobeSerifMM or AdobeSansMM, this may look similar to the intended font, but is a substitution font and may appear on the final output. To check fonts in Acrobat; view the file on screen, then go to the File menu/Document Information/Fonts.

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Improvements to FTP Server Offer security and Options

In an ongoing effort to offer better customer care, we are improving our FTP site to not only offer a better structured avenue for customers to provide electronic data, but also a more secure environment.

Each customer interested in providing files via our FTP site will be assigned a login ID and a password that will be required to load files. These will be available from the Customer Service Representative or Associate. At the time of the first login, a directory will be created for the files. Whenever the customer returns to our site they will then be able to access that directory with their files.

In addition, we would like to encourage the use of our FTP site for transmitting electronic jobs. In the past we primarily encouraged the use of this site for electronic page corrections or other smaller files. With the improvements that have now been made, we see the FTP site as a viable way to provide complete job files.

If you would like to use this technology, please give your Customer Service Representative a call or email them to request your login ID and password. We will email you this information along with a more complete guideline to help you link to our FTP site.

As we continue to move forward and strive to be at the forefront of electronic prepress, please let us know if you have any suggestions or questions. Our purpose in all of this is to provide you with exceptional customer care and to produce the best quality books utilizing the best that technology has to offer.

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Where Do We Go From Here?

As you may know . . . this electronic roller coaster we are on seems to be an endless ride. It can be thrilling and overwhelming wondering what else we may encounter on this track. As we vision the future, it may help us to cope with the changes if we take a minute to reflect on how far we have come.

I can remember my first encounter with a “disk” job. I was working in the planning department at a competitor. The job had a 4-color insert and on my desk was camera copy for the captions . . . and a disk. I looked through the materials for a while trying to find some source for the 4-color art. Transparencies, hard copy, slides . . . none to be found. I then asked the customer service representative where this art was to come from. The “disk” was her response . . . I was dumb-founded. How could that be, it was beyond my comprehension. Sure enough we sent the materials out to a local service provider and within days we had proofs with art in place. Amazed I was, and curious about this new way of doing things. Awhile after that I moved into the electronic prepress department. I figured if you need to know something . . . transfer to the source.

What a bittersweet experience it has been. We have been through a denial phase, where this new method of doing things would never last, and we helped each other and our customers through that. It was a continuous cycle . . . learn and teach . . . learn and teach. Sometimes more learning than teaching, but before long we had a pretty good handle on how this electronic age fit in with the conventional processes we were comfortable with.

Now several years later we have come to a point where we as well as our customers are pretty computer savvy. We have come to learn a new vocabulary of acronyms, EPS, TIF, PDF, OPI, DTP, CTP, PPD, to name a few and we forge ahead.

Where do we go from here? How can we use this knowledge and technology to make things easier and more profitable? How often do you present yourself with this question . . . weekly, daily, hourly?

Although no one person can have all the answers, here at Thomson-Shore we feel that we may have at least one solution and you’ve heard it before . . . PDF. The Portable Document Format, developed by Adobe is finding its way into businesses everywhere. Developers are scrambling to build workflows centered around this file format. Workflows that offer online file submission with job tickets built in. Workflows that allow check-in and check-out of files and version control utilizing asset management software. Workflows that provide online softproofing of text and cover files before final production. Workflows that require color management, using ICC profiles and monitor calibration. The technology is here, are we ready? I think we are . . . look how far we have come.

One sure step to ensure that you are positioned to take advantage of these e-commerce possibilities is to implement PDF into your environment today. Use it for sample page distribution, editorial rounds, high-resolution output, online distribution, and print-on-demand. Make sure that your vendors understand the benefits of PDF and are utilizing it.

The beauty of PDF is that you don’t need to know QuarkXPress, PageMaker, InDesign, Ventura, and the rest to look at files electronically with fonts and final graphics in place. Once you gain a comfort with softproofing, you can save money; disks, toner, laser paper and shipping charges can be reduced.

Don’t hesitate any longer. Find out more about the benefits of PDF; visit our web site, contact your Customer Care Team, or attend an upcoming seminar. The ride is not over and the best is yet to come.

-Sue Campbell, Prepress 

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Next PDF Seminar Coming Up this April

We will be holding our next PDF Seminar April 5th & 6th with a preliminary day of tips and techniques on April 4th to get those who may not be as familiar with file creation up to speed. These seminars have turned into a very exciting event in which we not only can share some of our knowledge about PDF and electronic prepress, but we can also share ourselves with you. We are always very proud to have people come and visit us and take a tour, but these events have become extra special.

As with everything around here, there is a team that has been at work. Based on input from past seminar attendees and some things we have noticed ourselves, we have decided to make a few little changes to the seminar structure. 

The first change is to allow more time for our plant tours. The tours are usually some of the most educational and exciting parts of the two-day event for both the participants and the employees. The only problem is that we have heard we don’t commit enough time to it. Well, we heard you, and we’re adding some additional time to allow more opportunity to get into how a book is made and to ask questions. Overall, we will be increasing the touring time from 4-1/2 hours to 6 hours over the two days.

Secondly, we are removing one of the structured group seminars and creating an opportunity for you to customize your education by selecting a couple workshops that might better meet your individual needs. We have a few to choose from including scanning techniques, Using Acrobat PDF during book composition (presented by Integrated Publishing Solutions), Discover the bindery, Meeting the press, and Covers/jackets and working with color. Or, if you have something else you’d like to spend some time looking into and there are others interested, we’ll accommodate that too.

If you are interested in receiving more information on the seminar or would like to register, please send in the postage paid reply card to the right of this article. Or, you can call anyone in your customer care team, as well as Matt Wenzel (mattw@tshore.com) who can get you more information. 

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Thomson-Shore would like to take this opportunity to introduce Jeff Rhoades. Jeff has joined our Prepress team and replaces Laurie Briegel in the Team Leader position that handles customer education and technical support. Jeff brings with him over 10 years of experience that includes page layout and design in several applications on both Mac and PC platforms, file troubleshooting, commercial prepress, computer maintenance, programming and customer service. The one area he is learning a lot about here is total book manufacturing. If you are new to Electronic Publishing or could use advice on a specific program or providing good PDF files, give Jeff a call. If you attend our PDF seminar you will have an opportunity to meet him in person. 

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And the Survey Says . . . 

Our customer satisfaction survey has been in operation now for about five years. What have we learned from the survey? Well, we’ve learned that customers are pleased with the service and quality they receive from T-S overall. Average scores tend to range from 4.5 to 4.8 on a 5.0 scale for almost every category (there are over 60 in all). There are a few categories, however, which are down around the 4.0 area. Although we recognize these scores as still being a “good” rating, we also recognize that our customers notice that these areas are a little weaker than the others.

One of these areas has been our schedules and on-time delivery. From what you’ve read in other parts of this issue, you recognize that we are working on this. And, we have noticed a trend of those scores moving up the scale already. Over the course of 2001 we expect to see those scores go even higher as you become more aware of our consistency to meet shorter schedules.

Another area where we saw some slightly lower scores is in the use of EP technology. We have been working even harder to keep you up-to-date on this ever-changing technology, and it appears to be paying off. Through newly updated guidelines, our PDF seminars, and articles in Printer’s Ink, we see that people are beginning to feel more comfortable with digital files. This average score has risen the highest of any category in the survey as it has jumped from 4.2 in the first quarter of 2000 to 4.7 by the end of the year.

In addition to this cumulative data, we also appreciate the individual responses from each and every survey. In the instances where we do have someone with a complaint, we are able to work with the customer on that issue and strengthen our relationship. Each of the customer care representatives also like to see the encouraging comments from those with whom they’ve been working. We all want to thank you for your time in helping all of us serve you better! 

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Thomson-Shore named Best Workplace in America

Thomson-Shore won top honors in the graphic arts industry’s first annual Best Workplace in America (BWA) program. This new award and recognition program is sponsored by the Master Printers of America, a division of Printing Industries of America, Inc.

The BWA program allows companies to compare their human relations programs to other companies in the graphic arts industry. Each company that participated was evaluated on a survey, which was scored and judged by a team of experts. The following are six categories for which companies were judged: recognition and rewards; health and well-being programs; financial security; personal/work-life balance; work environment and organizational culture and training and development opportunities.

We’re very proud of this achievement because it reflects on one of our core values of providing a work environment that encourages teamwork and mutual respect between all employee-owners.

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Ned’s News 

During the 25 years Harry Shore and I were at Thomson-Shore, the company grew at a rate that forever taxed our manufacturing capacity, and kept us struggling to ship orders on time and on a reasonably competitive production schedule. It seemed we were forever in need of additional equipment and when we added to capacity in one area, another area would fall behind. We just chased bottlenecks around the building, but we never caught up with them.

It was always our goal at T-S to ship softbound books with blue lines, in about five weeks, and case bound no more than two weeks beyond that. In general, we achieved those schedules between 50% and 70% of the time, but in our busy season, usually in late fall and early winter, those percentages would drop down. Because of these numbers, which I always thought were uniformly lousy, I spent 25 frustrated years working on why we weren’t smart enough to do better.

Well, now T-S has found the secret. All they had to do was get Ned and Harry to retire and like magic, the problem was solved. For many months now, the T-S production schedules have been about four weeks for softbound books with blue lines, and four and a half weeks for case bound. Consequently, our on time delivery percentage has gone up to over 90%, and these numbers held straight through the busy season. As a result, it is going to be the biggest year in company history.

I can really envy the people at T-S who are responsible for getting new work into the plant. Their job has to be infinitely easier than the chore I had when our production schedules were long and even shipped with longer schedules, we still shipped close to one-third of all our orders beyond their original schedule.

However, good luck or divine intervention did not accomplish this dramatic improvement. What did the job is something called “Theory of Constraints” and “Synchronous Flow Manufacturing” - a couple manufacturing theories that encourage a company to put all its resources into managing the “constraints” in your production process.After working with a consultant for the past 12 months, the company has gone through an education process that involved every single employee, regardless of what their job entailed, and trained them to look for constraints in their area (the things we used to call bottlenecks), and then apply whatever resources were available to eliminate that constraint. That is probably a totally inadequate description of what was really done, but I do know T-S devoted well over 1,000 man hours to the training and implementation of this system, and darned if it isn’t working. 

If you would like to know more about “TOC.”, there is a book called The Goal by Eli Goldratt, that is short, very readable, and is the “textbook” for the entire process. After spending 25 years at T-S and learning about concepts like management by objectives, zero defects, total quality control, and a few others, I had long since concluded that those were really just concepts designed to sell books by the guy who thought them up. We tried several, and were always disillusioned by the results. However, TOC has worked for us and our people, and our customers are realizing the benefits!!

I congratulate the people at T-S for finally getting a handle on the most frustrating problem Harry Shore and I ever faced while we were there. We sure never were this good, and I had concluded that the company was never destined to be this good. If the guys who came up with this concept at T-S had done this while we were there, we might never have retired. 

-Ned Thomson

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