By Cassandra Balentine
Peregrine Services is a wholesale, full line provider of graphic, mailing, and data services to Peregrine Corporation. Serving the Southwest, Midwest, and Southeastern U.S, the company operates 25 sales locations located in a total of nine states. Its main production and mail facility is located in a 12,000 square foot building in Monroe, LA. Eight miles away it operates a 14,000 square foot commercial print shop. It also runs two offsite IT facilities in Olathe, KS and in Pineville, LA.
Excelling in data-driven communications, the company has a total staff of 24 employees, four within its IT department. This focus on technology is essential to its core service offerings, which is largely financial, legal, and healthcare document production. Applications within each of these areas include postcards, letter services, laser bills, and check distribution.
The company utilizes a white paper factory approach, high-speed production inkjet, and data expertise to ensure its clients printing and mailing needs are met.
Nearly 30 years ago, Peregrine accounts began asking about print and mail applications instead of just furnishing forms. “As we looked for possible mailing partners at the time, we could find no one willing to sell to the trade. They also wanted jobs of size—not 5,000 and 10,000. So, we started our own company in 1993 with one and a half employees,” says David Stith, CEO, Peregrine Services.
In 1999 a small group of corporate employees purchased the mailing division. As a separate entity the company quickly grew. This expansion has continued in fits and starts ever since. Along with 24 full time employees, the data service provider operates three intelligent inserters, three digital presses, and approximately 13 printers—all but four printers being high-speed inkjet devices.
Peregrine concentrates on transactional applications that its clients are directed to mail by specific dates, therefore data accuracy and timing is essential. “Each department has both a secondary and tertiary backup. The system is set up so that if a printer or inserter goes down, we care,” he offers. However, that will not affect the timeliness of a client’s mail going out on time. “We also limit the amount of clients that we serve. We consider our full capacity to be five, ten-hour days per week. This gives us extra time to handle emergency orders, unknown requirements that may develop, and satisfying a client who may have had trouble delivering a file to us. For existing clients, we will do 50 to 350,000 pieces. We want them to consider us as its in-house mail shop,” he adds.
The company accepts client data via a secure FTP, then processes the data—performing CASS certification and postal sorting. From there, the data services provider utilizes a white paper factory setup for digital printing. Printed materials are then sent to folding and inserting equipment. Ready to mail pieces are trayed and t to a USPS Depot.
Using a white paper factory approach, something it’s been doing for 17 years, Peregrine is able to offer clients CYMK options at the same cost as B&W, which has set it apart from the competition. “For each application we offer our clients and prospects an automatic three-year firm cost opportunity. Our goal is to remain a relative small production house. In doing so our service team can remain close and responsive to our accounts. We are fortunate that we can use every account we service as a reference. Each year approximately 50 percent of our newly acquired accounts come to us due to the failure to perform of a competitor,” he exclaims.
Being a small provider has its benefits. Stith shares that from September through about the middle of May it handles three to four and a half million sheets per month. June, July, and August slow to around two million. “This provides the time for us to install new equipment, software upgrades and the continual cross training of employees,” shares Stith.
For the first 19 years of production, Peregrine used a variety of printer/copiers for output. It continually improves, adding new equipment as needed. “When we got our first 52 page per minute HP printer years ago, we thought we had finally arrived. Eventually, we ran out of room for additional printers and were forced to see what was on the market,” shares Stith.
In 2019 it was on the lookout for a press that could offer a higher quality than its existing capabilities, but with ink consumables at a lower cost. It also wanted a solution that would increase productivity in the near and long term.
Fast forward to 2020 when a representative from MCS, Inc. was in the area and stopped into Peregrine to introduce its latest offering—a cut-sheet inkjet press. The MCS Merlin K146c is a cut sheet production process color inkjet press that does not incorporate a click charge. It features piezoelectric drop-on-demand technology from Kyocera and uses an EFI Fiery controller tailored for inkjet technology. With water-based pigment inks, the K146c promotes speeds of up to 146 8.5×11-inch color or B&W sheets per minute at 600×600 dpi.
After reading up on the product, Stith was hesitant that the machine would do all that the marketing materials said it would, but he decided to send a member of his team for a demonstration. Impressed, they decided to make the investment.
The installation went smoothly. Peregrine soon experienced a cut in ink costs by 60 percent. Further, the quality of the print was superior and it experienced no jams. “Employee productivity pick up was immediately noticed. With our previous printers our input/output bins would only hold 700 sheets of 60# text. That meant for a run of 5,000 an operator would need to unload and load the bins at least seven times. If they were busy elsewhere the equipment sat there with its red-light flashing,” shares Stith. Each of these issues meant that achieving the throughput of the printer impossible to reach.
With the K146c press operators can place 5,000 in the press, hit start, and come back 35 minutes later and the job is complete, says Stith. “As operators leave for the day they set up a final job which runs lights out. When they come into the shop in the morning 5,000 of that job has been run. The ink cost, improved quality, and productivity just meant one thing for us—money on our existing business and improved costs to continue to compete for new jobs in a tightening market.”
After running the K146c for about six weeks, Peregrine noticed a developing trend. Print operators were waiting their turn to print their jobs on the press rather than other equipment. At this point, they had run about three million impressions without issue. “After analyzing the combined results of the first press I knew we would need another. I placed the order for the second press so that it could be installed in August. Since September we have run approximately one and a half million impressions per month on each machine. Our original press has close to ten million impressions on it with virtually no significant maintenance requirement,” he offers.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop
Of course, the ongoing pandemic has had an effect on Peregrine’s business. In May and June business was off 25 percent year over year. “The type of business we produce does offer some recession/market confusion relief. From September through the beginning of December its business dramatically increased compared to 2019. It appears that 2020 will have turned around to be the largest in the history of the company,” he shares.
To meet COVID-19 safety protocols, the shop did implement shift changes and had a few employees go through quarantine protocol after coming in contact with a positive acquaintance, but so far they’ve managed to make it work.
Slow and Easy
Peregrine runs a tight and efficient shop. The company thrives on being a dedicated provider to select clients, acting as an extension of their own operations. The company is careful and calculated in its investments, a strategy that has worked well for them, despite a global pandemic.
Its latest investment in cut sheet inkjet has proved profitable, helping to improve productivity and reduce consumable costs.
The company continues to move forward, continuing to support its clients with paper services while enabling them to also easily cross-over to digital communications. “We don’t share much interest in growing our business past the point of giving personalized service to our accounts. Slow and easy—here in the South,” he concludes.
Jan2021, DPS Magazine