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A Pantera As a New Sales Employee

With a Pantera from Muller Martini, PieReg Druckcenter Berlin GmbH has brought its entire softcover value chain in-house. Thanks to the in-house production, the logistics process is now much easier, which has had a positive effect on the bottom line.
Managing director Sven Regen (left) and technical manager Sebastian Preissler in front of the new Pantera perfect binder at PieReg.

“We have an in-house pre-press with typesetters, typographers, typescript editors and media designers. And we have three sheet-fed offset web printing presses with a total of 16 printing units, four folding machines and one saddle stitcher. The only thing that was missing,” says PieReg co-owner and managing director Sven Regen, “was a perfect binder.”

While the company, which was founded in 2004 by Sven Regen and Erhard Pietsch, who died this year, has been offering its customers perfect bound brochures and books for years, softcover products were outsourced – which had a negative impact on the production process over the long term.

According to Sven Regen, there were three main reasons why PieReg Druckcenter Berlin GmbH, which has 55 employees working 24 hours a day, five days a week, decided to put its own perfect binder into operation for the first time in the company’s 15-year history. “First, with in-house perfect binding, we can produce products more economically because we have the entire value chain installed internally. Second, we have more time because the logistics process is easier and we no longer need to transport products back and forth between here and the bookbindery. And third, we are better able to control the quality standards of the end product with our own employees.”

The fact that the distance between the printing press and the perfect binder is now just 30 meters and no longer requires complex transportation through urban traffic has become all the more important for PieReg given what has occurred recently. This year, as many as two longtime Berlin-based bookbinderies have closed their doors.
The only thing that was missing was a perfect binder.
Sven Regen, co-owner and managing director of PieReg
Of course, this had an impact on orders at PieReg. In addition to the traditional "little heap" of local Berlin agencies (according to technical manager Sebastian Preissler), the majority of its customers include the Berlin waterworks department, the Sparkasse bank, the Berliner Philharmonic, the Berlin fire department and well-known trading houses. “Although we are committed to our local customers, we work throughout all of Germany and Europe and have recently produced materials for customers in Los Angeles, Japan and India as well,” notes Sven Regen.

In order to support customers across the entire production chain, from concept to logistics, PieReg employs ten customer support representatives – seven working in internal sales and three in the field. “Identifying with our customers is important to us,” says Sven Regen. “We don’t have 1,000 contacts on Facebook, but rather 1,000 friends.”

Current developments in Germany's capital have also led PieReg to quickly move forward with the installation of its in-house perfect binder. Nevertheless, the joint decision by Sven Regen and Sebastian Preissler to purchase the Pantera – the company’s second Muller Martini machine following the Valore saddle stitcher it bought in 2004 when the company was founded – came after a thorough evaluation. This included a visit by Sven Regen and Sebastian Preissler to one of Muller Martini’s German customers who had also recently acquired a Pantera for its in-house perfect binding and who was highly satisfied with its new softcover line.
 
According to Sebastian Preissler, the decision to purchase the Pantera line with a 12-station 3692 gathering machine and a Granit three-knife trimmer was based on three factors. “The first is the machine’s robust construction. That is a very important quality in our printing presses. The second is the impressive overall package offered by Muller Martini, including after-sales service. This is because a high level of reliability is our top company philosophy. And the third is the compact layout, as space is a precious commodity in our production hall.” 

From a business perspective, Sven Regen made a simple calculation: “If we produce half of last year’s perfect binding volume in-house in future, then the Pantera will pay for itself.” In order to familiarize themselves with the new machine and avoid jeopardizing deadlines, PieReg planned to gradually produce orders in-house. But because the machine operators tasked with operating the new machine all had experience with Muller Martini systems (albeit not explicitly with the Pantera) and quickly familiarized themselves with the new perfect binder, they soon achieved the 50% figure.

And so since then, the Pantera has been working in three shifts, binding business reports, political brochures, art and travel catalogs, periodicals, manuals and street maps with an average print run of 5,000 and a range of 500 to 20,000 copies. Although PieReg also has two digital systems (a Bizhub PRESS 1052 and a brand-new Bizhub PRESS C1100 from Konica Minolta), the Pantera is used exclusively to produce offset printed signatures. “At 5% of printing volume, digital is a peripheral business for us – our core business is still offset printing,” says Sven Regen. However, the Pantera also serves as a pre-gathering unit for spiral binding. And soon it will also produce book blocks for hardcover production jobs sent out to subcontractors.

The new Pantera – “our fourth sales employee” Sven Regen calls it – has further strengthened PieReg’s market position and will help further boost growth. The company is currently among Berlin’s top five. But managing director Sven Regen has set himself an ambitious goal: “We want to be number 1 within five years!”