Schiele Group’s Seven-Decade Journey from the Back of the Barber Shop to a One-Stop Print Shop
Roughly 70 years ago, Henry Schiele’s brother-in-law lent him $300 to start a print business in the back of a Chicago barbershop. Today, John Schiele, Henry’s son, runs the Schiele Group, which boasts $34 million in annual sales, 140 employees, and more than 110,000 sqft of manufacturing space in nearby Elk Grove Village, Ill.
“Our customers choose to work with us because we do just about everything, and we do it well,” says Schiele. “Our goal is to be our customers’ sole supplier.”
Alongside a number of acquisitions, Schiele Group’s success has been driven in large part by expanding its capabilities. Recently, Schiele took yet another step to add efficiency and better serve its customers, ending a years-long vendor partnership and swapping out aging high-end, high-cost digital presses for four new Ricoh (Booth 7001) engines: two RICOH Pro C9210 color presses, and two RICOH Pro 8220 black and white printers. As a result, Schiele Group has enjoyed a nearly 50% increase in throughput.
Schiele Group’s previous vendor partner had an impressive portfolio of high-end presses available, a fact of which Schiele decision makers were frequently reminded.
“They had all of my data, so they knew the work I was doing, but no matter how things changed, their suggestion was always the same: buy the most expensive press in our portfolio,” says Schiele. “It didn’t matter I didn’t have the volume to justify that. Instead, they kept increasing my click charges 8% a year, and pushing for me to buy bigger and more expensive hardware. It became clear I was more of a piggy bank than a partner to them.”
These rising costs could also start cutting into Schiele’s expansion budget, hindering the adaptive one-stop-shop approach Schiele had built its name on. They needed a new partner, one who understood the company’s business and its goals.
Schiele wanted to print to heavier weight and larger media, fast, at high quality. They needed presses that could make their operation more versatile, while still driving high quality and fast turns, without breaking the bank or locking Schiele into an ever-escalating cost structure.
Two top contenders quickly emerged: the RICOH Pro C9210 and RICOH Pro 8220. Schiele wanted two of each for increased throughput and redundancy to keep uptime as close to 100% as possible.
The RICOH Pro C9210 color sheet-fed press supports media weights up to 470 gsm, and has the capacity to run the longest paper lengths in the market today: 49" simplex and 40" auto-duplex. This versatility was crucial in securing Schiele’s interest, as it allowed the company to broaden its revenue streams to include more diverse applications, and the impressive paper lengths empowered Schiele to run large-format proofs at significantly reduced cost.
Meanwhile, the monochrome RICOH Pro 8220 was added to boost Schiele Group’s growing book business, with its capability for post-fusing insertion of front and back covers or color inserts, printed on offset or digital printers, into books and manuals. Schiele also implemented various finishing equipment, including stitchers and binders that help produce square-bound books, which are in high demand.
After all of these additions, Schiele was still left with net savings, some of which they invested in expanding their offerings. Their customers are eager to make use of the new capabilities, and business is growing.
Schiele’s latest success story highlights the power of partnering with a vendor who puts your vision — rather than their quota — first, and has the tools to make that vision a reality.