Business

Pear Tree presses for expansion

Printing company combines advertising with bills

BY SHAMILLE SCOTT Business reporter scotts@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, March 02, 2014    

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PRINTING company, Pear Tree Press is introducing a printing technique that will enable advertisers to piggyback on documents such as bills and bank statements.

Adam Hyde, the company's managing director, is already busy selling the idea to clients.

Directly reaching consumers is a marketer's dream, and people spend a considerable amount of time examining their bills, said Hyde.

For the producers of these bills, invoices and bank statements, they can cover some of the cost of printing by selling unused space on these documents.

Pear Tree hopes that this new venture will contribute about 20 per cent to its total sales within two years.

"We want to get exponential value out of printing; we can't just be a printing house," said Hyde.

The managing director pointed out that advertisers are looking for a return on their investments and the days of earmarking cash for marketing and then spending haphazardly are over.

"They want to know that their messages are reaching the intended audience," he said.

What's more, advertisers and marketers can avoid printing mail that may not reach the consumer and instead, spread their messages on bills that have a consistent and effective mailing list.

For instance, the company that wants to advertise energy savings products to consumers wouldn't advertise on a bill of a customer who has a low electricity bill. Even in a more general sense, an advertiser who only wants to reach customers in a specific area wouldn't spend on islandwide advertisements.

Pear Tree is already talking with utility companies and financial institutions to advertise via transpromotional printing.

By August, it hopes to roll out a pilot project with one company, and promote other solutions that company offers on their bills.

Hyde made it clear that he isn't looking to take business from advertising companies but that the Cross Media Services Division that he will set up will work with ad companies to solicit business and find the right campaign for their clients.

"We are not here to take business from anybody, we are only trying to remain relevant and move up the value chain," said Hyde. "We can't just be a printery, sitting down and waiting for business to come to us."

Furthermore, the new division means Pear Tree will have to add about four more jobs in areas such as campaign development, data analysis and marketing.

Its most recent acquisition is a $30-million Xerox CP 1000 Digital Press that can produce 12,000 letter sizes in an hour, through variable data printing -- whereby elements such as text and graphics may be changed from one printed piece to another without stopping the process.

It has also bought a software that improves marketing by leveraging data to tailor messages for each recipient, capture the same artwork used on the printed material to send to mobile phones, create campaigns with built-in response tracking tools and adjust messaging, for example.

For instance, Pear Tree could print a bill, with a different name, address or promotion, using information from a database without stopping the printing process - personalising each sheet.

This new digital press would complement the traditional printing press that can produce as much as 50,000 sheets in an hour.

The Chelsea Avenue-based company is taking the initiative to be innovative and aims to be the go-to for efficient and cost -effective printing, which Hyde dubs as "smart printing".

With a staff complement of 35 people, Pear Tree Press provides printing services to advertising companies, government agencies, private firms, and prints magazines, books, and calendars, to name a few.

Now, it will add augmented reality - enabling smartphones and tablets to recognise objects that are in the real world, and provide detailed information about those objects as well as 3-D printing, direct mail and transactional printing.

Pear Tree bought a basic 3-D printer last year, and it has produced penholders and key chains, and trinkets to name a few.

The objective is to eventually monetise them.

As the company moves up the 3-D printing scale, it wants to print metal objects for the industrial and manufacturing sectors.

Still, these are just merely some aspects of the vision for expansion. Hyde plans to grow Pear Tree's physical infrastructure.

He calls it Pear Tree House.

The company will add 7,000 square feet to the building.

But the main feature that has Hyde beaming with excitement is a green roof -- a roof covered with vegetation, including drainage and an irrigation system.

These roofs use some form of green technology, such as a cool roof, a roof with solar thermal collectors or photovoltaic panels.

Green roofs serve several purposes for a building, such as absorbing rainwater, providing insulation, creating a habitat for wildlife, and helping to lower urban air temperatures and mitigate the heat.

"We want to put wind turbines on the roof, we want to run the administrative arm of the company on solar generation," Hyde said. "We want to reuse rain water in our production to wash the machines.

Sharing his vision for the infrastructure, Hyde told Sunday Finance what he hopes his plot will contain.

"I already know what I'll pant, I'm going to grow plants and Scotch bonnet peppers," he said. "And some of the staff say they want to plant fruits."

It's about reducing Pear Tree's carbon footprint.

The company has already taken some steps to do this: it recycles its materials and even uses soy based ink and chemical-free plates to protect the environment.

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