Never Say No
It began with fan belt sleeves.
Fred Arnold was meeting with a purchasing agent at Goodyear Tire and Rubber's Lincoln, Nebraksa plant. The agent, whose desk was strewn with fan belt sleeves, threw one at Arnold, then a partner at Fairbury Printing in Fairbury, Nebraska. "I need to print part numbers and bar codes on all these sleeves," he said. "If you can do that you'll have all my business."
Arnold, a friendly bear of a man who lacks the gene that enables him to say, 'no,' looked at the sleeves and said, "You bet. We can do this."
Then he raced back to Fairbury to figure out how to print sleeves with endlessly changing part numbers and bar codes using an offset press. He met with his production team saying, "I have no idea what the guy at Goodyear is talking about. But we have to figure this out."
Arnold and his colleagues found a way that would work and he took samples back to Goodyear, where he found that the purchasing agent didn't really mean Fairbury would get all of the fan belt sleeve business. He meant all of Goodyear's business out of the Lincoln operation—as in 10 states, Canada, Mexico and Venezuela. Suddenly, Fairbury Printing was putting out 26 million units per year on a used Multigraphics press in a building with less than 1,000 square feet of production space.
Which proves the value of never saying no.
The digital transition
As business grew, the company changed its name to McBattas Packaging and Printing and in 2000 moved to its present 30,000 square foot facility. Additional presses arrived, and for some time the Goodyear work was done entirely on a variety of offset presses and accounted for the majority of the company's business. Although business softened significantly with the economic downturn in 2008, Arnold and his plant manager believed there was a broad market for printing variable content and doing short runs for many types of folding paperboard packaging—and that a digital press would be essential.