Cober Evolving Solutions welcomed around 300 guests to tour its 86,000-square-foot facility in Kitchener, Ontario, as the company begins to generate more work onto its HP Indigo 10000 – the only such press currently in Canada.
The Cober open house event, shared with journalists in the morning and dozens of clients in the afternoon, follows a busy few months for the operation, after recently acquiring Kempenfelt’s printing operations in Barrie, Ontario, and earlier CuteGecko Inc., also of Kitchener. The star attraction of the open house, however, was the HP Indigo 10000, a recent commercially released 29-inch-format digital press currently run by only a couple dozen printers in the world today.
President Peter Cober and his son, Todd, a Vice President with the company, began the tour in their boardroom discussing the company’s long history and evolution, particularly since jumping head first into high-quality colour digital printing in the late-1990s. In addition to the Indigo 10000, Cober Evolving Solutions also runs two Indigo 7600 machines and has been regularly upgrading its digital presses for well over a decade.
Founded in 1916, Cober Evolving Solutions is a fourth-generation printing company with deep roots in sheetfed lithography. In addition to smaller such presses, the company runs three 40-inch Heidelberg perfecting presses (two 10-colours and one five-colour), as well as a straight 29-inch Heidelberg SM 74. Over the past couple of years, Cober has also started to move deeper into wide-format inkjet, as the company is equipped with an HP LX850, HP FB700 and an associated Kongsberg cutting system. Over the past year, Peter Cober estimates the company’s production mix comes in at around 50 percent sheetfed offset, 40 percent digital (liquid toner), and 10 percent inkjet.
Addressing the past few turbulent years for North American printing operations, Peter Cober, in the company’s boardroom, expressed how they have used the stagnant print market over the past few years to retool for today. It is a refrain Cober shared in a March interview with PrintAction about the Kempenfelt acquisition: “The recession was great for us because we could go out to customers and say, ‘You do not have to buy print the way you always used to. You do not have to have three people managing print projects.'”
This environment of print efficiency being passed on to clients is primarily fueled by Cober’s continued progress with driving work through Web portals. Peter Cober estimates this currently accounts for around 90 percent of work reaching the HP Indigos. He anticipates the use of templates will only growth as the company’s technicians, salespeople and customers become more familiar with the new print possibilities afforded by the Indigo 10000’s unique format size.
"It is hard to get salespeople internally to start thinking about the bigger formats all of a sudden,” Cober said back in March. “With presentation folders, for example, instead of ordering 2,000 of them, you can make them more personalized or versioned within different segments of your client’s business.”
As if the morning facility tour for journalists was a practice run for the key afternoon event with clients, Cober Evolving Solutions invited Scott Dubois, President of pidalia, to speak for 30 minutes about the growing connection between social media and brand building through integrated campaigns – using print as a key component.
In January 2014, Cober acquired a small local, five-year-old design agency called CuteGecko primarily because of its expertise in social-media. “How do you use social media strategy to do a better marketing campaign? Is it part of the print mix?” said Cober, in March. “We have print and we have digital, e-communications and PURLs and social media. We have been talking about this with clients. You really have to look at it and get involved.”