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Middlestreet Graphics

By AICC Staff

June 1, 2018

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When it comes to printing on corrugated products, Middlestreet Graphics may be the new kid on the block, but they have a long heritage and history to draw upon.

They are a division of G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers, a company that started out as Grand Pop Bottling.

width=200It was 1925, and two Cincinnati women had an idea. They approached their then-boyfriends and suggested they become equal partners in purchasing a bottling business. The driving force behind the company, Nell Gross and Esther Jarson, convinced Walter Gross and Isaac Jarson to make the purchase.

Ten years later, they bought their first barrel of Pepsi brand concentrate and became an official Pepsi bottler. Ninety-three years later, they’re still in the same family and are now the largest family-​owned and -operated Pepsi franchise bottler, with more than 1,500 employees.

But they are more than a bottler. With the creation of Middlestreet Graphics and the purchase of Durst color printers, they are now a high-speed printer that is ready and eager to serve the corrugated industry. They are also one of the newest members of AICC.

“Fast-forward to 2013,” says T.R. Gross, senior vice president of strategic business initiatives and a principal owner. “We started this very modest print shop. At that time, it was really servicing the needs of our Pepsi company, our core business. In an effort to really figure out how we wanted to diversify our revenue streams, the ownership decided to invest several million dollars into state-of-the-art printing presses.”

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Middlestreet prides itself on outstanding customer service.

Their newest printers—a Durst Rho 312 Plus and two Durst P10 250 HS Plus printers—arrived in August 2017, expanded their printing capability, and produced what John Boggess, senior sales and operations manager, says was outstanding print quality. David Hauptman, the production manager with close to 20 years of print experience, says these printers have some of the best print quality you can find, with exceptional speed.

The printers, Hauptman explains, have six colors, plus white, which allows them to print on clear and transparent material.

Gross says they knew of no other bottler within the PepsiCo system that was providing fully commercialized printing service. And now, according to Boggess, Middlestreet has its business in three buckets.

The first is servicing their internal needs—the G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottling company and its graphics and printing demands. The second is the PepsiCo system and all the franchise bottlers, as well as the corporate business units. The third is a business-to-business focus, which is where AICC comes into play.

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Middlestreet is one of Durst North America’s demo facilities.

“We know there is a need for providing large-format printing needs,” says Boggess. “Some of the people we know don’t have that type of printing capability, and they look to other printers to provide wide format printing. We’ve used that as a niche for us, and it is definitely a nonthreatening one. Since we are under the Pepsi umbrella, we don’t have a full sales force or sales team that is out on the street beating down the doors like traditional commercial printers. We just want to really help the commercial printers out there as a nonthreatening entity that can provide high-quality printing services.”

As an overflow printer, Boggess says, they want to play nice within the industry, not poaching business but providing digital printing and short-run printing support to corrugated businesses while still staying focused on their core Pepsi business.

Gross says Middlestreet Graphics has a first-class design team that designs all sorts of custom artwork for PepsiCo and some customers outside the system.

“We know what it takes to provide marketing solutions that stand out in the marketplace, because we use them ourselves in our core business,” says Gross.

He also says that being a part of the PepsiCo systems means they have competitive costs that they can pass on to their customers. They have access to materials that are bid through competitive pricing and have superior shipping rates that allow them to pass on the cost-savings. Their shipping is done using Pepsi’s global shipping rate with global carriers.

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Middlestreet’s designers work with each client to maintain brand standards and guidelines throughout development.

“We’re branching out and believe that the corrugated packing industry is absolutely ideal for our particular B2B business model,” says Gross. “We bring quality, pricing, the press time, and the trust and confidentiality.

In addition to printing, Boggess says, Middlestreet Graphics is able to provide members of AICC with creative design support that includes a foundation of knowledge with corrugated products.

“We’re a user of corrugated,” says Boggess. “We’re always coming up with different kinds of corrugated display pieces that get engineered for our own products. We’re using industry materials quite extensively, and so bringing that creative element to designing artwork or maybe through a structural creative display piece is something we are proud of doing well.”

Boggess says Middlestreet Graphics has already begun working with corrugators, and the relationship has been a positive one that they’re looking to expand. Gross says as new members of AICC, they’re looking forward to meeting more members at conventions and regional meetings.

“From one family-owned business to another, we’re happy to be a part of this and make a lot of friends in the business,” Gross says.


width=150Virginia Humphrey is director of membership and marketing at AICC. She can be reached at 703-535-1283 or vhumphrey@aiccbox.org.


Capabilities Abound

When it came time to invest in new printers, Middlestreet Graphics looked hard at many companies before settling on Durst, a decision about which they have never looked back.

“We had several manufacturers in to visit us,” says John Boggess, senior sales and operations manager. “We knew we were getting the best deal Durst had to offer. Durst’s transparency, truthfulness, and humility—they just have a human side vs. the other manufacturers we dealt with.”

And so they purchased three printers from them: two Durst P10 250 HS Plus hybrid printers and a Durst Rho 312 printer.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, we made the right decision on the equipment, without question,” Boggess says.

By purchasing two of the P10 hybrid printers, Middlestreet Graphics is able to have redundancies for large runs and is also able to accommodate smaller runs that need a quick turnaround. Boggess says both presses are roll-to-roll capable so they have a lot of versatility in what they can print.

Production Manager Dave Hauptman has been working in digital printing since 2002 and with Durst for the past 10 years.

“When it came to Durst, I had knowledge and experience with them,” Hauptman says. “They had bar none some of the best print quality you can find. They have exceptional speed without sacrificing quality.”

In addition to the speed and quality of the product output, he says they are built like tanks. They are highly reliable and durable, meaning that after eight years of use, they can still print at the same quality that they did when they first came out of the facility that made them.

Hauptman says the P10 Plus machines are the best of both worlds when it comes to price, speed, and quality. They can handle up to 100-inch wide material, whether it is a hard cardboard, flexible material, or something soft like vinyl or mesh. The print quality is 1,000 dpi, which allows for really fine quality print.

“On average, we can produce on one machine anywhere between 40 and 45 boards an hour, somewhere in the range of 1,400 square feet, without sacrificing any quality,” Hauptman says. “The color on these machines is fantastic.”

He says they are running six colors plus white. They have the traditional CMYK, as well as a light cyan, light magenta, and white capability.

T.R. Gross, a principal owner, says these presses really speak to how Middlestreet is now able to serve the corrugated industry. He says the P10s are made for corrugated material, and they have a sled system built into both of them, which helps them work with corrugated products.

Hauptman says the Rho 312 is for soft materials such as banners, meshes, and papers. It is a machine with dual-roll capability, so they can put on two rolls of materials at 63 inches or less and run them in tandem. You don’t have to have the same images on one roll as the other, giving them a great deal of flexibility.

To go with their new machines, they hired new staff who had been in the industry and had experience with similar machines. He says the people they hired came from all different areas of the industry, so they had a swath of experience when it came to printing, finishing, materials, and different processes.

Then when the machines arrived, Durst stayed for 10 business days to set them up, calibrate them, and train the operators. They stuck around once production started to help answer questions and make suggestions about how to do things.

The arrival of the three printers has turned the once modest print shop into a busy business serving many industries.

“It’s a lot more hectic,” says Hauptman. “The biggest way it has changed is the variety of materials we can print. We get more customers because we have this capability. White ink is huge. We would have never been able to print on clear material on our old machine. Now that customers know we have the capability to do so, they’ll ask for that. Also, the volume we are able to get through—we are in the middle of production runs now that we could never have dreamt of even eight months ago and definitely not two or three years ago.”

Boggess says with the capacity of all three machines, there really isn’t any job they can’t accomplish with the speed-to-market objective.

“We are really excited to potentially earn the business of our customers and bring to them real high-quality point-of-sale pieces to help them make a difference in their market every day,” says Gross.