Fry Communications Earns Top Honors in Gold Ink Awards

By David Savastano, Editor | 01.23.17

Award-winning printer carves out successful niche in catalogs and magazines.

From its beginnings more than eight decades ago as a publisher of weekly shopping guides to its present status as an award-winning printer of publications, catalogs, and direct mail, Fry Communications, Inc. has been an industry leader in quality.

The company’s roots date back to 1934, when Fry Communications began as one of the first publishers of weekly shopping guides. A small family operation, the company focused on publishing that shopper for more than 30 years. That changed when Henry Fry moved the company into printing in the 1960s.

“Henry Fry, our current chairman of the board, purchased the company’s first offset press in 1967,” said Elizabeth Bellis, marketing project manager for Fry Communications. “In 1970, we expanded into printing government and commercial materials.

Over the years, our commercial non-heatset printing grew, enabling us to expand into business-to-business catalogs and trade and consumer magazines.”

Fry remains a privately held, family-owned company that has the financial resources to invest in the equipment and technologies its customers need. Currently, Fry has more than one million square feet, with nearly two dozen heatset web offset and sheetfed presses, 30 binders, an exceptional variety of auxiliary equipment, and more than 1,000 employees.

The company’s wide range of equipment, as well as its emphasis on serving customers, is a major reason for its success.

“Fry offers an incredible breadth and depth of equipment and services on a single campus,” Bellis said. “We produce short, medium and long run jobs with the same efficiencies and speed to distribution. We have saddle and perfect binding, as well as high-end, book-quality perfect binding for luxury products. We offer an on-site co-mailing center that also shortens the time to in-home for delivery. Our customized sheetfed press offers diecut, emboss and specialized coatings in-line for spectacular covers and inserts that maximize impact without totally blowing budgets. We operate a wide range of ancilliary equipment so we can offer things like clean release cards for marketers, custom wide swathe inkjetting of polybagged inserts, inline tipping, magnastripping and small booklet production.

“New customers have told us that one of the biggest differences between Fry and other printers is our responsiveness, both on a corporate level and ‘on the floor,’ added Bellis. “Our management team partners with customers to ensure successful production right out of the gate, and the teams on the floor do all they can to get the jobs done on time and above expectations.”

Gold Ink Awards

One way to measure the success of a printer is the awards it helps its customers earn. By that mark, Fry Communications had an exceptional year in 2016. Fry received the Gold Award in the 2016 North American Printers of the Year competition sponsored by Sappi Fine Papers, as well as 10 Gold Ink Awards from Printing Impressions, including a Gold Medal.

“Our Gold Medal award winner is a knockout – the African Travel Brochure 2016 from The Travel Corporation,” Bellis said. “It features a close-up of zebras on the front and back covers, with reticulation and high gloss UV to create drama and interest as the book is turned in the light. The cover was produced on our custom sheetfed press, and has heavy ink coverage in addition to the special coating. The entire book features rich nature-themed photographs on matte paper.

“Two additional spectacular brochures won Silver and Bronze medals, and also feature special coatings on their covers,” she added. “Prestige Cruise Holdings produces luxurious pieces that appeal to their affluent buyers. Their Exotics and Winter Collections use cold foil, dull varnish, spot soft touch, and gloss varnish to enhance the cover photography and design. They also use premium, bright white paper for the cover and text, which helps their rich photographs pop off the page.

Bronze winner World Screen is an amazing collection of pieces printed as independent products which are then bound together either as text pages or stand-alone inserts, to create a perfect bound tabloid piece that is about ¾ of an inch thick.”

Choosing an Ink Supplier

From an ink perspective, Fry Communications places particular value on consistency.

“Most importantly, we need a stable, predictable, batch to batch, consistent ink supply,” said Mike Weber, Fry’s VP of manufacturing. “We also need a supplier who has the capability to fine tune their formulations for our press conditions. Typically the base formula is okay, but not the best for optimum results. We want the best results possible on our particular presses, and that means custom formulations on some presses.

“We want a supplier who stays involved and monitors the process to anticipate needed changes,” Weber added. “Chemistry is always changing, as paper and other raw materials change. So the ink formulation is never static, but changes so we can maintain consistent beautiful results regardless of any change in raw materials. Finally, and perhaps obviously, we need a good value proposition - good price, good service, good consistency, and sustainability of those results.”