Nonstop Printing

“Automation Ignites Growth in the Family Business: CEO Fulfills Lifelong Dream at Nonstop Printing”

nonstop-mark-red-socialIn 2011 Leiman Chan set out on a mission to transform his family’s business, Nonstop Printing, into a modern manufacturing dynamo.

As a young UCLA economics graduate with early career experience as a manufacturing team leader at Pepsico, Chan was eager to bring his acquired knowledge of metrics, KPIs, and analytics back to the Los Angeles-based company his father founded as a new immigrant two decades earlier.

After over a decade at the helm of Nonstop Printing, Chan’s vision has been realized thanks to the power of workflow automation guided by Significans Automation and its imposition and workflow innovation partners.

Building On a Solid Foundation

The company’s origin is a classic immigrant success story, with Chan’s father coming to the US with nothing, learning the trade, and building a small, local commercial printing business one client at a time. According to Chan, the name Nonstop pays homage to his father’s tireless work ethic and attitude of saying yes to virtually any client request.

Chan jokes that he considers himself more of a “no” person, striving instead to be more strategic in the jobs and clients he pursues, while continuing his father’s energy and drive.

A hands-on owner-operator, Chan is directly involved in prepress, customer service, and sales, giving him tremendous insight into every aspect of the 10-person digital printing operation. The company produces short-run, ultra-high-quality art books as well as event printing and signage. His clients include some of the world’s biggest Hollywood celebrities and entertainment companies so the work is of the highest profile, and errors and sub-par quality can be catastrophic.

As such, his immediate goal was to profitably deliver unmatched quality in shorter quantities with personalized service, meticulous attention to detail, and high technological standards.

A New Vision

But for Chan, there was a deeper, more existential goal to be pursued.

“I’m on a mission to create something special,” explains Chan. “I’ve always been the small company that wants to do big company things, and I needed to create a better environment for my employees.”
– Leiman Chan, CEO of Nonstop Printing

But almost 10 years in, the CEO was struggling with many of the challenges faced by other smaller printing companies in the industry including profitability, talent acquisition, and staff burnout. The prepress department was a particularly fast-paced, high-pressure environment that struggled to retain staff, and morale was extremely low.

“It was a stressful time, and I was desperate for a break-through as I realized that it was no longer sustainable to keep replacing staff the way I had been,” he recalls.

Remarkably, he found inspiration in the most unlikely of sources.

“I knew that the big companies and online players were thriving because of how little manual intervention was required in their plants, but I didn’t think it was applicable to us as a small shop until I listened to an incredible podcast that featured an interview with Tilia Labs,” claims Chan.

Nonstop had been imposing everything on its Fiery, and when Chan learned in the podcast that smaller printers were successfully compressing imposition times from a few minutes to a few seconds, he knew his transformation goals were within reach.

“I literally called Tilia Labs (now known as Esko) right after the podcast ended, and that conversation became a crucial turning point for our business,” recalls Chan.
– Leiman Chan, CEO of Nonstop Printing

Shortly thereafter, Nonstop purchased Tilia’s imposition solution Phoenix which delivered on its promise to dramatically reduce imposition times and allowed Nonstop the ability to process more small orders efficiently. Automating the imposition began to alleviate some of the manual burden bogging down and burning out its employees.

Inspired by this process improvement, Chan turned to Tilia Labs for advice on how to take this momentum to the next level. Chan had recently let go of a prepress employee and was confident that an investment in automation could make a better impact than hiring more staff.

The Automation Transformation

Tilia Labs’ George Folickman introduced Chan to Marc Raad, CEO of workflow automation company Significans Automation. Leading Chan through the process of further integrating Tilia’s imposition functionality, Raad and his team sold Chan on the Enfocus Switch workflow automation tool, which would soon bring Chan’s dream of truly automating and transforming the family business to fruition.

According to Raad, Chan was very hands-on and chose to be directly involved in the implementation and programming of Switch.

“Leiman is an extremely self-sufficient leader and wanted to take more of a do-it-yourself approach,” explains Raad.
– Marc Raad, President of Significans Automation

Significans Automation offers a wide range of training services, from basic consultation to fully managed automation integration, and was happy to guide Chan in the implementation and programming of Switch.

“So we did the groundwork, he observed a lot, and we taught him advanced programming and scripting,” recalls Raad. And he loved every minute of it!”
Chan’s vision was finally becoming a reality. “Significans Automation became my coach, and showed me how to create these incredible workflows and time-saving automation.”

With his unique insight into the inner workings of every department at Nonstop, Chan was able to effectively integrate and automate critical aspects of workflow including proofing, file delivery, finishing, and bindery.

The Efficiency Edge

“All of the things that I worry about with every single job are now going into

Switch and being automated thanks to Significans Automation,” Chan explains.

Prior to automation it took anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour for the proofing of a typical book project. With automation, that’s down to a remarkable three to five minutes.

“Significans Automation also connected us with GMG Color to improve our color workflow, which reduced press downtime by over 10 percent because of the reduction in the amount of operator intervention required to adjust color using curves,” adds Chan.

For a company that depends on small jobs, the time savings are a Godsend as they allow for more jobs to flow through production.

Rework from proofing errors or miscommunication has also been reduced by 15 percent, and Chan’s headcount in prepress has been cut in half.

Operators are able to do their jobs more efficiently and focus on more creative work or take on roles in other areas rather than growing frustrated with repetitive, mind-numbing tasks. So even with more orders coming in and jobs being completed faster, morale is at an all–time high.

The Future is Now

Chan says there is even production capacity to spare, so the foundation is set for significant growth. He estimates that he could comfortably add over a million dollars in new business without adding any new staff or equipment, thanks to the remarkable improvements and opportunities automation has delivered.

“For me, the goal was never just about profitability or cutting labor costs,” says Chan. “It was about getting better results in lower quantities and spurring innovation for long-term sustainable growth.”

Nonstop’s customers also benefit. They now receive annotated reports and proofs that include more details on bleeds, color issues, and other potential pitfalls inherent in the printing process. Clients are thrilled because they have more insight into their print jobs, and the overall quality bar has been raised.

“Even if a client changes a file a million times, it’s ok because instead of pulling everything into Indesign, we just go through Switch and it generates new reports and proofs instantly,” says Chan, adding, “Our execution is much better, and there’s far less human error and much more accountability to our clients.”

The results are so overwhelming and ubiquitous that Chan wonders if Nonstop Printing would even exist today if he didn’t pursue automation at such a crucial time in his company’s development.

“It took a lot of work and dedication, but Significans Automation helped revolutionize our business through innovation and automation even more than I had envisioned,” concludes Chan.
– Leiman Chan, CEO of Nonstop Printing

“We need this kind of energy and innovation in our industry, and I hope my success story gives other small printers hope.”

Solving the industry’s biggest problems

As a software and process integrator, Significans Automation delivers increased profitability, improved quality control, and enhanced production efficiency, enabling Artificial Intelligence to facilitating new revenue opportunities in Web-to-print and E-commerce.