GraphExpo 2003, Chicago

Merrill Communications Purchases KBA Rapida Sheetfed Press

Sept. 29, 2003: KBA North America, a leading sheetfed offset press manufacturer based in Williston, VT, has announced that Merrill Communications LLC, a leading diversified communication and document service company based in St. Paul, Minn., has purchased a KBA Rapida 105 41” six-color perfector press for its St. Cloud, Minn. plant. The press, which will be displayed and running at Graph Expo in Chicago in late September, will be shipped to Merrill immediately after the show.

“After a year of extensive research for a new press, we chose the KBA Rapida 105 press for its high-quality, its flexibility, and its automation and technology,” says Kurt Cron, prepress manager of the St. Cloud plant. “We looked hard at all five press manufacturers and their presses and we did press tests on all the presses. But we felt that KBA had superior technology and a well-built press. We wanted a press that perfected after the second unit and had hybrid UV technology. We felt KBA was on the forefront of this technology.”

Cron adds that the plant produces many perfector jobs such as postcards for the real estate market that require process color on one side and one or two colors on the other. “We also liked the flexibility of being able to automatically convert to a two-over-two, four-over-two, four-over-one, three-over-two, or a straight six,” he says.

Postcard and newsletter printing

The Rapida 105’s hybrid UV capability will also provide faster turnaround for Merrill’s postcard and newsletter printing. “We print large volumes of a base run of these products then personalize them on our Xerox printers,” explains Cron. “But we always have to remove the offset powder from the press causing us another step in the process. By using hybrid UV inks, we’ll be able to eliminate that extra step and it facilitates the drying time. Plus the image will improve on uncoated paper with better hold-out.”

“We also needed the press because we presently outsource a large amount of printing,” says Mike Iten, Merrill’s pressroom/finishing manager in St. Cloud. “Right now we operate half-size presses and we outsource the 40” work. We believe we’ll be able to bring back 50% of what we outsource when we install the new press.”

Second KBA press

This is the second KBA Rapida sheetfed press purchased by Merrill Corporation. In January 2000, the Everett, Mass. facility of Merrill installed a new KBA Rapida 105 41” eight-color press with tower coater and extended delivery.

Merrill Corporation was founded by Kenneth F. Merrill in 1968. It is an acknowledged leader in providing electronic and paper document and information management services to many of the most successful corporations throughout the world. Over 4,200 dedicated employees are employed in nearly 60 locations. In 1994, Merrill Corporation purchased May Printing in St. Cloud. The St. Cloud plant is a commercial printer producing work for national and international franchises in the banking, real estate, food service, and other markets. The plant also operates a fulfillment and mailing division. It employs 500.

“We look forward to our continued partnership with Merrill Corporation in their successful business,” says Ralf Sammeck, President and CEO of KBA North America. “Our new Rapida 105 will allow Merrill to continue its rapid growth in the many areas of the commercial markets they serve.”

Photo: Bob Burke

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