Bank In-plant Delivers Stunning Transformations, Major Cost Savings
Wide-format has been a game changer for the in-plant at Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLBank Atlanta), allowing it to take on projects it wouldn’t have dreamed of a few short years ago. Some of them have been quite ambitious.
“We completely turned the ballroom of [a hotel] into a barn one night,” says Robbie Feazel, assistant VP and manager of the four-employee Print, Mail and Purchasing department. The in-plant printed barn walls on gator board, farmer’s market signs on plywood, floor graphics to make the floor look like wood, and then Feazel and an assistant installed all of it in a six-hour period, in preparation for the FHLBank Atlanta’s annual member conference. The event had a “farm-to-table” theme, and the in-plant did all it could to bring that to life.
“We used vinyl to wrap the stage with a skirt that had a hay design on it,” says Feazel.
The in-plant even printed on 2x6" boards purchased from Home Depot and used them to make a children’s garden box that was filled with dirt.
“It was a huge success,” he says of the conference — and a big part of that was due to the efforts of the in-plant and its wide-format operation. The centerpiece of that operation is a new Xanté X-98 UV flatbed printer, installed in May.
“When we bought the Xanté X-98, it just opened it up,” Feazel says. “We could do so much more.”
The Xanté joined a Mutoh ValueJet 1626UH LED UV hybrid printer, a Mutoh ValueCut 1300 cutter, and a Colex Sharpcut automated cutter. Together they have moved the in-plant’s wide-format work well beyond posters and banners.
Print, Mail and Purchasing is now printing all the signage for the fourth floor of its building on acrylic, with plans to eventually print signage for all 11 floors of the midtown Atlanta building.
“They would have had to outsource all the signage, but now we can do it in-house, and it saves tons of money,” Feazel says.
The FHLBank Atlanta’s annual member conference event was one of the most visible examples of the in-plant’s capabilities and value. FHLBank Atlanta executives and salespeople were in attendance and saw the results firsthand. They were able to see how their investment in the in-plant’s equipment was used — and how much money was saved as a result.
The in-plant not only transformed the hotel into a barn, Feazel and his team tore down all their work overnight and set up a whole new scene for the next day’s activities, this time with a Steampunk theme. Then they removed that work to set up new materials for the last day with an international theme. It was a lot of work, Feazel admits. But it paid off in respect.
“They got a chance to really see what we’re doing,” he says.
Improving the Workflow
FHLBank Atlanta is one of 11 FHLBanks around the country, and the only one with an in-plant. Cooperatively owned by member financial institutions, FHLBanks are wholesale suppliers of lendable funds to financial institutions, including community banks, credit unions, commercial and savings banks, insurance companies, and community development financial institutions.
Feazel came on board at the bank in 2005 and became manager of Print, Mail and Purchasing in 2013. Since then he has worked hard to improve the workflow and productivity of the in-plant. He oversaw a redesign of the space in 2017 that created a conference room and a package handling area. Then earlier this year he had a wall removed to expand the shop’s footprint to its current 5,800 sq. ft., then centralized the digital presses, wide-format equipment, and paper storage, for greater efficiency.
“We really just changed the whole flow of everything, and it’s so much better now,” he says.
The in-plant relies on a pair of Heidelberg Versafire production printers for most of its work. The Versafire EP has an in-line Plockmatic finisher and the Versafire EV has white and clear ink capabilities. The shop also uses a Xanté En/Press envelope printer and a two-color Heidelberg Quickmaster, which “we don’t run much,” says Feazel.
“The print volumes have dropped,” he admits, “but the wide-format … has exploded, so that has actually balanced us out.”
He’s pleased with the opportunities opened up by the Xanté X-98, with its 55x98" full-bleed bed and dual LED lamps for instant ink curing.
“It’s definitely helped us produce a lot more,” he says.
The shop also plans to install a laser engraver so it can add a new service: engraving bank-owned laptops, monitors, cell phones, and other items.
Expanding the Customer Base
To expand the in-plant’s customer base, Feazel has reached out to other FHLBanks, and the in-plant now prints jobs for the Des Moines, Iowa, Topeka, Kansas, and Chicago locations. In addition, the shop provides in-kind printing of newsletters, postcards, programs, signage, and other items for many local nonprofits, such as the Atlanta Community ToolBank, the Historic Oakland Foundation, the National Black Arts Festival, Giving Kitchen, and more. By doing this, the in-plant supports the FHLBank’s community involvement efforts and increases its value.
This is just one of the benefits the in-plant provides, Feazel says.
“By having it in-house, we can really tweak the colors to match our bank logo or the bank color, whereas if you outsource it, you don’t have all that control like you would here,” he points out.
The in-plant’s ability to handle very fast turnaround demands also saves the bank money over the cost of outsourcing.
“The rush fees would be astronomical,” he notes.
Because Feazel also oversees purchasing of everything from office supplies to beverages, and handles meeting room reservations, he has close contact with executives and employees at FHLBank Atlanta, which serves to keep the in-plant fresh in their minds.
“Having relationships with the C-suite is important,” he acknowledges — but so is having a reliable staff, he adds. Feazel is grateful to have such hard-working employees and credits them with making the in-plant run so smoothly.
“I’ve got a great team,” he lauds. “They’re just solid. They’re dedicated, they’re loyal — they’re happy.”
Related story: An Accidental Love of Printing
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.