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Thursday, August 17 Business

New printer, additional space mark Premier Graphics’ growth in Stratford

STRATFORD — Premier Graphics’ shiny new color printer, purchased last fall, stands several feet taller than the average man.

It not only looks impressive; it’s also meant to perform 10 times faster than the company’s other printers. “That press will permit us to triple our volume,” said co-owner Cesar Garcia. “This puts us up with the big boys” in the printing industry.

When Garcia and his business partner, Tim Cicchese, took over a local printer on Sept. 11, 2001, they dreamed of turning it into a successful, nationally known company. “We took over a failing printer with the idea to grow it to where we are today,” Cicchese said.

The aftermath of 9/11, followed later by the Great Recession, affected their progress in ways they could not have foreseen, but the owners said the wait for their current success has been well worth it. “It took us a little longer than expected but we’re finally there,” Cicchese, who lives in Brookfield, said.

Last year, Premier printed 50 million personal identification cards, 200 million personalized documents like invoices, letters and explanations of benefits, and 100 million marketing pieces. The company also printed a smaller number of personalized books, like health care manuals, among other prints.

Revenue is closing in on $15 million annually, having increased by about 50 percent in the last three years. It could continue to grow with the help of the new inkjet web press printer. “Our commitment to technology and people has set us apart and brought clients to us,” said Garcia, a West Haven resident.

Over the last five years, the company has invested more than $5 million in technology and to hire 25 additional workers, bringing its employee count to nearly 80 people.

It has also concentrated efforts on a “bar code system,” in which an item is tracked via a bar code throughout the printing process to ensure it is created correctly. Sensors on their machines can also pick up any mistakes on a brochure or card.

“At every station it’s tracked and monitored and before the mail hits the mail stream we know it’s 100 percent accurate,” Cicchese said. “If we’re not perfect, we’re out of business.”

The company’s growth is such that last year it added 15,000 square feet to its existing footprint on Honeyspot Road and is now expanding by another 25,000 square feet.

“We don’t compete as much with the local printers (anymore) but more with the national printers,” said Sean Huban, the company’s chief revenue officer.

Premier, which has acquired 15 smaller printing companies since its start, is also looking to hire another 15 or so people over the next year, mostly in its sales department.

“One of the things we’re really proud of is our people,” Garcia said. “We have a very diverse workforce reflective of the region.”

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Cicchese said employees are committed to ensuring jobs are completed quickly and accurately. Last year, 50 employees agreed to work Christmas Day to ensure the jobs due that week could go out in time, he said.

“We made it worth their while, but it’s still a big deal,” Cicchese said. “We’ve got a lot of good people.”

ktorres@hearstmediact.com; 203-330-6227

Keila Torres Ocasio|Staff Writer

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