Mike Sparaco first joined AlphaGraphics in 1980 as a staff member at the University Store in Tucson when he was a student. The University Store then became Store Number One when AlphaGraphics became a franchise. Sparaco soon opened his own AlphaGraphics store in Tempe, Arizona, and for many years it has been one of the top earning shops in the AlphaGraphics network. The 20,000 square foot facility produces offset, digital, and wide-format printing on presses from Heidelberg, HP, Ricoh, Xerox, and Canon, and the acquisition of Brand X Custom T-Shirts also added embroidery, screen and digital printing of textiles to AlphaGraphics Tempe’s offerings.
Output from the sheet-fed presses, both offset and digital, is processed in the near-line bindery. “Because we produce a wide variety of work and for more effective use of our space,” Sparaco stated, “a near-line bindery makes the most sense for us. We are a very automated shop, and that carries right through to the bindery.” A large majority of the equipment in the bindery was sourced from Standard Finishing through its local Horizon dealer, Print & Finishing Solutions. Over the years, the bindery has grown to include Horizon solutions for creasing, folding, slitting, bookletmaking, perfect binding, and most recently, die cutting.
Sparaco credits Horizon’s consistent user interface and cross-trainability as one factor in his continued investment in their equipment. Using the SmartSlitter as an example, Sparaco explains that it is simple to train a new team member and finishing business cards is easily accomplished with the equipment, even for less experienced operators. “On the majority of the Horizon equipment,” he says, “you can train someone quickly to get up and running. They make equipment that holds up well and just lasts.”