Innovative companies often experience success because they find a solution that makes them unique in the marketplace. Since starting with just seven employees in 1978, Three Z Printing has become a publishing juggernaut in southern Illinois. Recently, they teamed up with Colter & Peterson - the largest independent distributor of paper cutters and paper handling equipment with a reputation for rebuilding first-rate, pre-owned equipment – to install a reconditioned Schneider Engineering AG high performance unloading system.
"Times change and so have we. Years ago, we didn't do many jobs with coated stock but now it's part of what we do on a daily basis," remarked Jim Wakefield, a Three Z Printing stalwart for 34 of its 36 years who is in charge of maintenance for the shipping and cutting departments. "With our extensive run lengths, it was time to replace the old equipment and upgrade with a system that can keep up with demand."
Three Z is named for the three Zerrusen brothers - Daniel, William and Kurt. From humble beginnings with a 10,000 square-foot building, it now has 450,000 square-feet of workspace or what Wakefield refers to as "10-plus acres under one roof" in downstate Teutopolis. A stone's throw from Effingham and about halfway between Indianapolis and St. Louis, they have access in any direction via Interstates 57 and 70.
The company specializes in printing highly visible 7- and 9-point reply cards, Direct Mail, Free Standing Inserts, buckslips and a variety of other types of printing for major magazine publishers, newspapers and catalog companies and other Fortune 500 companies. Some of their work is international but most people see it every week in a magazine or Sunday newspaper when they receive a major restaurant franchise coupon.
Wakefield says past experience with C&P led to having them replace an old Knorr stacker.
"We had previous experience with C&P on other equipment and parts. They are a good company and when they say they will do something, they deliver on what they promise. Bruce Peterson has helped me with advice and troubleshooting, and this unloader has resolved our issues."
The problem Wakefield encountered was his older equipment wasn't durable enough for their applications. Now he's putting through more work with greater speed and reliability.
"The Schneider Engineering unloader is no comparison. It has a table that can handle three or four times the weight of paper we're unloading at one time. When we stack our 3-1/2" x 5" insert cards, you can encounter a big issue if your table goes too fast. Our new piece of equipment allows us to move at any speed we want because the cards are already contained, and we cut up to 6" stacks with the higher lift unit. The paper we use is for 22" x 38" x 6" lifts. It's heavy because we are printing on coated stock with glossy artwork for about 65% of our work. The older equipment couldn't handle that kind of weight."
The Three Z pressroom is a busy place. Relying on 18 web presses - mostly Heidelbergs and a few Sandens – they have a full cutting department and operate three shifts five days a week, plus most of every Saturday.
"We start at 10 p.m. on Sunday and run until 7 p.m. on Saturday," acknowledged Wakefield, who is on call 24 hours a day. "It's important everything was covered during training because our run lengths are in the hundreds of thousands and some are in the millions. We can't afford to miss a beat."