Some people become printers by following a parent. Others come to the industry via classes at RIT or Cal Poly. Many move up from pressroom or bindery entry-level jobs. Al Warner chose another path.
Warner—a native of Saint Kitts & Nevis, a Caribbean island nation once part of the British West Indies—was mentored as a teenager by US Peace Corps volunteers who recognized his potential and counseled him to attend college. Although they recommended, he select a school in the United States, Warner compromised on the University of the Virgin Islands—a public historically black university in the US Virgin Islands. After only a few semesters, Warner became determined to pursue a Chemical Engineering degree, although Engineering was not available at UVI. So, he transferred to Texas A&M then to the University of Houston, where he majored in Chemical Engineering.
As his graduation neared, Warner was unsure how to begin his career. Then Procter & Gamble scheduled job interviews at Houston, and a chemistry professor suggested he sign up for an interview—just for practice. The interview went well, and, to his amazement, a call came from the consumer products giant suggesting he come to P&G headquarters in Cincinnati for a second interview. A job offer resulted, and thus began Warner’s successful 34-year P&G career as a staff Chemical Engineer and, ultimately, Research Fellow. At P&G, Warner’s primary duties dealt with packaging, developing paper, developing flexographic printing for paper, film and nonwovens, inks, lotion coatings, and other chemistries used in consumer products & packaging. He has dozens of US and global patent grants to his name.
Fast forward to 2018. A recently retired Al Warner and his wife Paula decided to move to Texas, and as a second career to purchase Bass Printing—a successful mid-sized commercial printer in the Fort Worth area. Warner bought out the retiring Bass Printing owners. despite the fact his P&G duties were only peripherally involved with printing.
Many new owners, upon assuming responsibility for an existing print business, would begin by assessing existing equipment and purchasing modern pressroom and bindery devices. But as his first move, Warner licensed the exclusive Process Metallic Color System offered by Color-Logic. Says Warner: “I discovered Color-Logic when I was at P&G, where we used the software on several package designs to enhance product appearance on the shelf. I learned at the time that very few printers understood the Color-Logic process, and most were reluctant both to learn the software and to encourage graphic designers to use it. I was so impressed with Color-Logic that I made it priority one when I went into business for myself. Color-Logic is a difference-maker when it comes to selling print capability.”
Historically, Bass Printing had relied on print brokers for a substantial portion of sales, so Warner began immediately to show the brokers with whom he worked just how they could sell economical metallics using files designed with minimal effort. Commented Warner: “Many of our brokers were immediately enthusiastic about their prospects offering Color-Logic and noted that it would give Bass Printing a significant advantage any time metallics were being used. Moreover, most felt that with Color-Logic in their offerings, they could show designers and marketers how metallics could bring them a significant advantage and a minimal cost increase relative to a conventional CMYK job.”
In addition to bringing metallics to Bass Printing customers and prospects, Warner had other strategies up his sleeve. He said: “When talking with current Bass customers, I noticed that many were purchasing signage. Several indicated they would welcome the opportunity to work with a single vendor for more than one graphic display need.” Today, Warner is the proud owner of a Mimaki® flatbed printer and Graphtec® cutter facilitating his foray into the sign market. “We have diversified our product offerings and differentiated Bass Printing from the many “Me Too” printers in the marketplace, not just with signage but other services and technologies as well.
Still another Warner tactic involves a more comprehensive website, offering Bass Printing services (including promotional products) over a larger market area. “We are seeking to position Bass Printing in direct competition with Vistaprint around the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, with a user-friendly website and a wide variety of print services and products.”
At Bass Printing, Al Warner expects new product offerings—with an emphasis on metallic printing by Color-Logic—to differentiate his business from other printers. With 14 employees and diverse capabilities, a diverse Bass Printing is enabling corporate and institutional clients, as well as smaller brands, to truly differientate themselves in the marketplace as well.