Print Shop Pro® is a fully automated web-to-print management system designed exclusively for in-plant print shops and copy centers. You’re invited to our webinar to learn more.
“If you want to know how Web-to-Print can make you more efficient and help you grow your business, I’ve done it with Print Shop Pro®,”
says Chuck Harding,
Print Services Supervisor at Texas Department of Transportation
I had the pleasure of interviewing Chuck and learning about his operation and how he is using Print Shop Pro®
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT pronounced “tex-dot”) is a government agency located in Austin Texas and is one of the Top 100 Largest In-plants in the US. The agency’s primary responsibility is overseeing and managing the construction and maintenance of the state’s immense state highway system.
Don’t Mess With Texas
TxDOT is known for creating the slogan “Don’t Mess with Texas” as part of a statewide advertising campaign in the early 80’s designed to reduce littering on Texas roadways. The slogan is still in use and remains popular today.
TxDOT is one of the state’s largest departments in terms of the number of subordinate offices—it maintains 25 geographical districts throughout the state. This large number of departments is needed due to the massive size of the state, the widely varying climate and soil conditions affecting public roads, and the differing needs of the local population (urban vs. suburban vs. rural).
Chuck Harding, Supervisor of Print Services, has been with TxDOT since 2008. Chuck grew up in the area in Brownsville, TX. He graduated from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, and majored in photography with a minor in printing. Chuck said, “we shared the same instructors for both areas of study. And, at the time, printing was a mix of photography also. We shot line work and halftones in a dark room for printing so it was naturally a perfect fit for me.”
Chuck’s first job out of college was teaching printing at a state prison as part of a special program run by Brazosport College. Chuck explained, “I taught 20 students at a time who were elite prisoners. They had to have a GED or high school diploma and were handpicked by the Warden. I taught everything from type composition, shooting negatives and plate making to running a printing press and light bindery work. I really enjoyed it. I felt that even if I only helped a few it was worth it. And, I learned about as much as my students did in that position.”
Continuing his career in print Chuck worked as a commercial printer and he also ran a total of 8 copy centers at the University of Texas. Chuck shared, “I managed a record high of about 5,000,000 copies in one year there.”
In his current position at TxDOT, Chuck is responsible for a overseeing a team of 11 employees which consists of 1 Administrator, 1 Lead Worker who helps run production, 3 color operators who also handle all of the pre-press work, 2 Xerox 100i Operators, 2 Xerox 144 Operators, 2 Bindery Workers and 2 team members who handle engineering plans. Chuck explained, “When you build a road it’s like building a house. The engineers in our department determine the slope of the highway, where it’s to be built, how it’s to be built, the depth of highway, etc.”
The department has a special position for a full time scanner operator. Chuck said, “We have a lot of hardcopy to digital file work that has to be completed. We have indexed 749,000 sheets of engineering drawings. It’s important so today’s construction workers and bridge engineers can look up how things were built. Oil mining is also big in our state and we have to grant permits and determine if heavy vehicles can travel over certain bridges and overpasses.”
There are over 12,000 employees at TxDOT. The print shop’s customers are primarily TxDOT departments and 5% of jobs are state agency work. The department’s largest customer is Human Resources. Chuck said, “They order lots of materials for all employees. We print materials for Work Zone Awareness and Safety that covers how to properly set up a work zone and construction zone.” As he tried to recall all of the types of things he prints Chuck laughed, “This will be fun, I’ll just pull up Print Shop Pro®.”
The Benefits of Automation and Servicing on Entire State with Web-To-Print
Chuck pulled up Print Shop Pro® and was able to quickly rattle off several jobs. Chuck said, “In the system right now we have orders for things like supervisor training materials, discipline and management training materials, materials for inspection training, DWI training and supplemental training for our police officers, traffic control training, grant materials, participant guides, train the trainers and New Employee Orientation (NEO) books.”
I asked Chuck how he managed jobs prior to using Print Shop Pro®. He responded, “By the seat of my pants. Jobs would come in on paper form. We had a system, but it was a duplicate entry system and it was very cumbersome. Our customer would enter their order details into a PDF. We would have to take the PDF and make corrections and then re-key all of the order details into this system. The system had an awkward data entry workflow as it was made for printers versus quick copy orders which is what most of our jobs are. I’d have to physically go to our color area and gather all the tickets for the day that came in and sort them manually by customer and when they were due. It was just awful. So, we dropped using it.”
When I asked Chuck why he chose Print Shop Pro® he shared, “It took me a while to get your system. I couldn’t manage hundreds of jobs in my head anymore. If you want to know how Web-to-Print can make you more efficient and help you grow your business, I’ve done it with Print Shop Pro®. The workflow has increased and we have grown from 398 jobs in November of last year to now over 629 last month. So if you want to see how to grow your business you need a system. It’s worn me out, but I’ve done it.”
Chuck went on to share, “I have 25 districts to support in 800 miles of territory from East to West. The goal in purchasing Print Shop Pro® was to be able to serve the needs of the entire state. We didn’t have a great experience with the prior vendor. And, our IT is outsourced so it was extremely time consuming to get the approval. But now that we have Print Shop Pro®, I can service the entire state quickly, easily and with high quality and Print Shop Pro® allows me to do this as if they are all in the same building as me. Some of our larger districts have in-house capabilities, but for others this is great!”
Improved Customer Service & Reporting
I asked Chuck about his favorite Print Shop Pro® feature and he said “I love the reporting. Reorders are easy, tracking and finding an order is easy and the reports are great for our work in progress and due dates. I also like that our customers love the program.” Chuck pulled up his website and shared an actual quote that he posted from one of his customers which read: “I wanted to let you know how much I love, love, love the new ordering process for business cards. It is so fast and easy to use and I love seeing what the actual card will look like. The best part is that the turnaround time for the cards is very short. I have received my orders in 1-2 days and that is outstanding!!!”
Chuck went on to say “The Print Shop Pro® Template Builder Module for business cards allowed us to eliminate a full time position. Now, we didn’t fire the employee, but he retired and we haven’t had the need to fill position. Our customers like that they can put their orders into the system anytime and from anywhere. They can access the system at 9PM from home if they need to.”
Being a career printer, Chuck is very fortunate in that he is well supported by his Administrators. He said “I’ve been an in-plant long enough to always look over my shoulder. We’re not processing chargebacks at this time but that may change and I am happy that we have Print Shop Pro® to help us manage this change if and when it comes. But, even without using the system for chargebacks, Print Shop Pro®gives me the data my Administrators want. I can see, at any point, who is ordering print services by District or by Department. I can also see what they are printing and how much we are saving. I can sort by categories and customer sites. Everyone is assigned a District or Division and I can tell you if San Antonio or Houston ordered a lot. They eat that up.”
Chuck shared, “I don’t take for granted that we are supported. I have always run my shop with the belief that if you provide a great product and great service customers will use you. They will see the value and they will tell others. You don’t have to tout it.”
Having started in education, Chuck still enjoys attending industry meetings like TACUP and SUPDMC. Chuck shared, “I appreciate edu’s support of the college and university world.”
Outside of printing Chuck is an avid golfer and loves photography. He is scheduled to retire soon and plans to enjoy more time golfing. Chuck joked, “I am going to a club fitting and will be purchasing new custom irons and woods. They aren’t cheap so I may be around for awhile longer!”
“I love the reporting. Reorders are easy, tracking and finding an order is easy and the reports are great for our work in progress and due dates. I also like that our customers love the program.”
You’re invited to our webinar to learn more.