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Range no longer just a printing company

Posted: August 24, 2012 - 7:52pm
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If you think you know Range, think again.

The Brainerd-based company may have its roots firmly planted in the printing industry, but its services extend beyond paper and ink.

Range has been rebranded with a new name, logo and mission. The company discovered a niche market that expanded during the economic fallout of the 2008 recession. Since that time, companies have slashed their marketing departments to the core, sometimes completely eliminating them.

That’s where Range Inc. found opportunity. They have evolved into a full service marketing and communications company.

Range can create and develop a business marketing strategy, which it does for national and local clients, and also can provide data management, print and mail your direct mail mailings and even send email blasts to your customers. In the past, companies may have had the in-house staff to perform tasks such as sending out direct mail or keeping a current client address database. Now they can outsource those duties to Range Inc.

“We started adding value through marketing services about five years ago but the recession made us focus on using these technologies and strategies, to help our customers,” Jim Kalthoff, Range Inc. vice president of operations, explained. “Marketing departments are now half the size they were then. They look for a strong partner.”

Range has a secured digital pressroom, which allows companies that demand confidentiality, such as financial services agencies and casinos, to have data and materials handled and stored there without the threat that private information will be leaked. Only certain employees are allowed to handle this type of printed materials, which often are uniquely personalized.

“As communication gets more sophisticated, it’s more difficult for companies to have the staff to do direct mailings and the many different types of communications needed today,” explained Ann Smallman, senior vice president of marketing at Range Inc.

Need a pop-up display, sign or banner? They can print those too. The company has wide format printers that allow them to print in these large formats on a wide variety of materials.

Range’s digital pressroom houses two large high-speed color printers, a four-year-old system that is still considered new by industry standards and a brand new high-speed printer that was installed in early August.

The HP Indigo 5600 digital press, a $400,000 investment, was purchased not only to help shoulder the increasing workload, but because it was even more efficient and brought new technology to the digital production world, Kalthoff said. He said the new press can easily handle 200,000 sheets a month and needs this type of high volume to make it productive and efficient.

“We have a strong client base and are committed to growth,” Kalthoff said, which is why the company purchased the equipment.

Range’s digital presses are so high-tech that they can produce printed materials with variable data, such as personalized materials to target individuals and a specific targeted audience. Forget about mailing labels. The machines can print individual addresses on each piece, saving the client money.

All of Range’s printers are finely calibrated to ensure that the colors on materials printed on separate equipment matches, said Smallman.

Range still has sheet-fed printers, which are used to print catalogs, brochures and high quality magazines such as their own, Lake Country Journal.

“This is what Range has been know for,” said Smallman as she pointed to the large presses. “This is our legacy.”

Range is also becoming known for one of its unique products, Lake Country Journal magazine.

The bimonthly magazine featuring stories about the Brainerd lakes area was purchased from Evergreen Press two years ago. It’s a custom publication with a readership of about 80,000.

The magazine itself has become a marketable way for Range to sell its printing services and the services of Lake Country Journal’s talented publishing staff.

“You show them the Journal, and they say, ‘We want this,’” Smallman said of prospective clients as she held a recent issue of the magazine.

In January, Range opened its fulfillment center at the Northern Pacific Center. The center has flexible staffing to meet the dynamic inventory needs for its many clients. A relatively new offering, e-stores hosted by Range, allows companies to let Range store, manage and ship out its products. For example, a large company may set up an e-store so its employees may order sales materials or business cards directly from Range, which then ships them out. One company Range is assisting with an e-store has about 12,000 independent sales people ordering personalized or printed products, said Smallman.

Range’s call center that supports its clients is located at the fulfillment center, and will hire some additional customer service representatives this fall.

Range handles up to 1 to 1-1/2 million pieces of mail each month. Winter and spring are the busiest times of the year for mailings, but so are the last two weeks of each month, said Smallman.

Range Printing was started in 1968 in Deerwood by Phil Sundquist, who then moved the company to 1111 Oak Street in Brainerd in 1970. In 1974, the company relocated to 710 Washington Street and in 1978, Steve and Judy Sundquist purchased the company.

Range moved to 411 Charles Street in 1981 and then moved to its present location at 1022 Madison Street in the Brainerd Industrial Park in 1993. The first addition to the building was completed in 1998 with a second addition built in 2003.

Last year Range was bought by the Sundquists’ son and third generation owner, Shawn Sundquist, who serves as company president, and two other businessmen, Paul Niccum, who serves as chief executive officer, and Kim Wood, a partner and board chairman.

Range Inc. has about 70 core employees and operates two production shifts five days a week.