Amherst College is a private liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts. It is an exclusively undergraduate four-year institution and students choose courses from 38 major programs.

Amherst was ranked as the best liberal arts college in the country for 2018–19 by The Wall Street Journal and the second best liberal arts college in the country by U.S. News & World Report and 16th out of all U.S. colleges and universities by Forbes in their 2018 rankings. Amherst is a member of the Five College Consortium, which allows its students to attend classes at four other Pioneer Valley institutions: Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Since the inception of the U.S. News & World Report rankings in 1987, Amherst College has been ranked ten times as the first overall among 266 liberal arts colleges in the United States. And, the college ranked as having the second-highest graduation rate of any institution in the United States, second only to Harvard according to a 2009 American Enterprise Institute Study.

Amherst and Print Shop Pro®

Amherst College has been a Print Shop Pro® (PSP) customer since 2016. The college transitioned from manually processing print orders to Print Shop Pro® in an effort to reduce the time it was taking to process incoming requests.

We spoke with Rod Squier, Manager of Print and Mail Services for Amherst College about the transition and how PSP has impacted his workflow.

Rod is a Massachusetts native. He graduated from the University of Hartford/Hartt School of Music with a degree in music and business. He played drums and toured with a band that performed throughout Europe for the Dirty Dancing Live Concert Tour. When that tour ended, Rod applied and was hired by KAT, an electronic drum company. That company manufactured drums for celebrities like Michael Jackson, Rush and Garth Brooks. Rod enjoyed designing/printing all of the product manuals and handling tech support and artist relations for the company. He taught himself the business of printing and how to use design programs starting with Pagemaker and Quark.

I asked Rod about his journey to joining Amherst College. After KAT, Rod began in commercial printing where he worked for 5 years.

Rod shared, “I have been with Amherst since 2007. I began in production. I took on managing the department 4 years ago when my boss retired. Now, I manage the campus bulk mail center and printing for the entire college. I have a team of 4 including myself, a print production technician, a mail services specialist and a print, bindery and mailing tech team member that floats in between print and mail based on our needs.”

Types of Business

Rod went on to describe the types of jobs the department produces for the college campus customers. He said, “Our customers are primarily internal departments. We print for some local non-profits, schools and a very small amount of printing for some for-profit businesses. We do everything from table tents, flyers, brochures and marketing materials for our advancement and communications departments to posters and large format work.”

I asked Rod how things are going with getting customers interested in wide format jobs and if he feels it’s worth the investment.

According to Rod, “We’re seeing a big increase in our wide format business. It’s at about 10-15 percent of the jobs that we produce, and it’s growing.

“We inherited two older large format printers from our college library a couple years ago. The department was losing money because students would put in wrong information and jobs would have to be reprinted. It just made sense that all of the main printing equipment for the campus be in our print department and with PSP we can control what students order.

“We now handle all of the printing, mounting and recently, dye-sublimation work. It’s been fun learning new techniques like printing on fabrics, window/floor vinyl, die cutting and printing on vinyl for our fleet vehicles. It has created a lot of new opportunities for our department.”

Why Automate?

I also asked Rod about why he ultimately decided to purchase PSP.

He said, “We print about 6-7 million copies annually. Before PSP jobs were coming in chaotically. We would get emails or customers would call in orders.

“When I took on the position I created a PDF form that could be populated with order details, but we still had to manually log the job, enter the order details, provide information for our in-house billing system and back fill. It was taking too much time to get orders and manage all of the paperwork. We knew we needed to automate. PSP has been a huge time saver. It’s cut our time to process orders in half, at least.”

“It was taking too much time to get orders and manage all of the paperwork. We knew we needed to automate. PSP has been a huge time saver. It’s cut our time to process orders in half, at least.”

Rod and I discussed how customers have received PSP. Rod said, “Our ordering process and workflow is definitely more streamlined now. I was also expecting a big push back, but it wasn’t bad at all. We introduced PSP by selecting a few test departments and we sent out email notifications to prepare customers. I don’t know if it made a difference or not, but we have the Color Themes Module so our site and icons are branded with our organization’s colors and fonts. It helps with the look and feel of our site and customers adopted it well.

“Before we rolled out we took suggestions from our test group and made some changes and then we released it from there. Over the past few years everyone has adopted the new process extremely well. 100% of the print, store and mail orders we receive go through PSP.

p>”For new employees, we have a package that gets distributed during new employee orientations. This includes an overview of PSP. We also have the Directory Integration Module so they just have to access our PSP site to be verified and they’re ready to go. It’s now second nature for people and it saves a lot of time. Everyone has been very happy with it.”

Favorite Feature

As we were wrapping up our call, Rod shared his favorite feature. He said, “If I had to choose a favorite feature, I’d say it’s how quickly reporting can be done. With our old system, we had to jump through hoops to get data, then put information into Excel and do a lot of tricks to get what we needed. The PSP Dashboard gives us reports at a glance on the fly … it’s great! We also use the Template Builder Module for our business cards. I think our customers really like that they can see an actual proof and approve their business card order before they submit it.”

Outside of printing Rod plays in a few bands on weekends and tours frequently in Boston. He is also a proud grandfather of 4. Along with drumming, Rod also is busy with sound reinforcement and lighting at shows. He has attended the annual PSP User Group Meeting where he has provided valuable feedback and suggestions for system enhancements. And we look forward to Rod’s contributions in future User Group Meetings.

by Leeann Raymond

Amherst College At a Glance

Interview with: Rod Squier, Manager of Print and Mail Services
Solution: PSP Light (Hosted), Template Builder Module Light, Directory Integration Module Light, Document Converter Module Light, Color Themes Module Light, Mail Module Light
Location: Amherst, MA
Print Shop Staff: 4
Annual Production Volume: 6-7 million copies per year
COPIERS: Konica Minolta C3080, C3070L, 6120, 1100
PRINTERS: Xante Ilumina Digital Production Press, Rena Envelope Imager XT3
LARGE FORMAT: (2) HP Designjet 5500PS, Canon IPF8400S, HP Latex 365,
MAIL MACHINES: (2) Hassler IM-5000
VINYL CUTTER: Graphtec CE6000-120
SUBLIMATION: Sawgrass SG800, GK 25s heat press, DK3 mug press, Stahls Hotronix hat press
CUTTERS: MBM Triumph 7260, Sabre Series 2 60”
FOLDERS: MBM 352, Duplo DF-915
SCORER/PERFER: Count AccuCreaser Air V2
MISC FINISHING: RS Banner Welder RBW-1500S, Fastback 2.0, RhinoTuff Onyx HD6500