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Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023

Printing in Green

You might think a person running the same company he founded 30 years ago is too established to be considered an entrepreneur. But it’s just that entrepreneurial spirit that has allowed Richard Sevigny’s printing business to survive, and even thrive, in a mature industry that’s seen massive contraction. Most recently, Chromatic Lithographers started a new venture called the Green Print Alliance which has a two-pronged mission: to help save the planet and to bring more business to the company. “Our industry is the second largest contributor to deforestation in the world,” said CEO Sevigny. “So when George came to me and presented the Green Print Alliance concept, I said ‘This is a fabulous idea.’ I also looked at it as an opportunity to bring to our customers something different.” That would be George S. Kizis, now marketing director for the Green Print Alliance and salesperson for Chromatic’s other lines of business. He joined the company about a year ago after a chance meeting with a Chromatic sales representative at an environmental conference. The Green Print concept Kizis had been developing resonated with Sevigny. “When he came to me and presented it, I said, ‘This is a fabulous idea,'” said Sevigny. “I also looked at it as an opportunity to bring to our customers something different. Is it a chance for us to get work that we might not get? Yes, absolutely.” The fact that Chromatic had already been certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative gave credence to Sevigny’s commitment, according to Kizis. “There aren’t that many printers out there that carry both of those certifications.” The designations mean, basically, that the company promotes the use of papers that have been harvested from sustainable forests and put through sustainable processes in their manufacture, and are printed with environmentally-friendly methods. The Green Print Alliance, in essence, passes along that certification to Chromatic’s clients. “If a client chooses to print on sustainable papers, we make them a member of the alliance,” said Kizis. “They get to use our logo on their printed materials that makes a statement of their sustainable practices.” And for every alliance member purchase, the company also makes a contribution to American Forests, a forestry conservancy. “We support their Global ReLeaf program,” said Kizis. Each dollar donated results in one tree being planted. “We are currently at 3,352 trees.” More than 200 of those plantings are thanks to the first Green Print Alliance member, TELACU. The East L.A.-based non-profit community development corporation jumped at the idea when it was first presented. “Something we were already trying to move into is to really become more conscious of using renewable resources in our printing media,” said Volker Schramm, vice president of TELACU’s communications group. “It was a perfect fit It was pretty much, absolutely, we’d like to do that.” The first piece was a hefty journal produced for the organization’s annual scholarship awards dinner. “For us, what’s nice is the pricing,” added Schramm. “It’s really not, because you’re doing this, you have to spend more money. You’re doing a good thing but the pricing is still very competitive with standard printing that might not be using recycled papers or using FSC papers.” Sevigny and Kizis are now working to take the alliance national. “We have printers from around the country that are expressing interest in becoming Green Print Alliance printers,” said Sevigny. “That is very gratifying, that the program would have greater reach than the boundaries of our walls.” Survival of the greenest Many of the initiatives that make Chromatic a sustainable-practices company are primarily a result of technological advances and as a response to economic pressures and environmental regulations. “When we first started, everything was manual: we developed film by hand, burned metal plates,” said Sevigny. “We had old arc rods talk about pollution!” Now everything is computerized which, Sevigny says, is good for the environment, and for productivity. Sales people who used to spend their time (and gas) driving back and forth picking up jobs, dropping off proofs and picking up change orders now spend their time actually dealing with customers. Recently Chromatic moved one of its operations, Trade Die, from Burbank to a spot across the street from their main facility. In addition to creating greater efficiency, the move reduced the company’s footprint by about 10,000 square feet, and also cut down on the number of trips back and forth between the two buildings. The company has three trucks, but now only uses two. One of those, said Sevigny, is a fuel-efficient Toyota with a small engine. The printing business has become incredibly competitive, said Sevigny, driven by a variety of factors including the migration of manufacturing out of the U.S., a bad economy and the general evolution of many printed materials to the Internet or via CDs. Remember user manuals? When you bought any kind of appliance it would come with a printed manual, Sevigny said. Now, if you’re lucky you get a CD or, more often, just a link to a website. “As many companies in California moved production to Asia, so went the packaging along with it,” said Sevigny, along with all the support materials that heretofore have been printed here. “We may be a Glendale company, but we are in a global economy.” Moving away Chromatic has also lost business due to companies leaving the area. “We had a pretty good-size customer that we ran labels for, for vitamins, and the owner of that company just got fed up with the rules and regulation and taxes in the state of California and he pulled up stakes and moved to Nevada,” said Sevigny. “And he would not deal with us anymore. We called him because he liked our product and asked if we could still manufacture for him and ship it but he said, ‘No, I don’t want to have anything to do with California.'” Confusing and burdensome environmental regulations, taxes and worker’s compensation make it tough to operate in California, said Sevigny. Worker’s comp in particular “almost decimated this company,” he said, before the premiums were reduced. Some of that is the price California business owners pay for being in a state that has taken a leadership position in environmental stewardship. “The air quality management in Los Angeles is very strict,” said Sevigny. “I have some friends in the industry in Alabama and Kentucky that are just going off alcohol. We used to use alcohol to run our machines to print. We haven’t for years (due to AQMD rules) but I just got an e-mail that they’re just now doing it.” Chromatic uses all biodegradable solvents to clean presses, adds Kizis, and they are fortunate in that the City of Glendale, which supplies their power, is increasing their renewable energy sources. “We, of course, like every printer recycle every scrap of paper we don’t use,” he adds, “and several times a year we donate our reusable paper to a company that redistributes that to schools and other organizations.” Chromatic Lithographers, Inc. Location: Glendale Founded: 1978 Revenues in 2005: $11,927,431 Revenues in 2007: $ 9,033,843 Employees in 2005: 85 Employees in 2007: 69

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