It’s uncommon to hear about companies completely overhauling their production platforms, and it’s even rarer to hear about companies that do so over a period of only 12 months. Walker 360 is that rare company. The 75-year-old company, based in Montgomery, Alabama, employs about 50 people and generates $13.5 million in annual revenues. Founded as, primarily, an offset-focused commercial printer, Walker 360 is now a completely digital shop with a brand new bindery producing a wide range of applications including newsletters, books, marketing mail, and more while also offering creative services, data analytics, and personalized communications.
President and Owner, Taylor Blackwell, began building the foundation for a complete production overhaul a few years ago as he did research and traveled to different industry events looking to bring in a new production inkjet press. He explains, “Based on my existing finishing equipment, I was thinking about a 40” inkjet press, but I just couldn’t make the math work.”
That’s when Blackwell decided to start with the finishing side in mind rather than the printing side. “While I understood that there would be efficiencies by switching from offset to inkjet, I also realized that if you can’t automate the finishing, you are just moving the bottleneck there.”
He continued his research, attending the Inkjet Summit a couple of times and then traveling to Hunkeler Innovationdays in 2019 where he says his eyes were really opened to the potential of automation. “I literally developed a plan on the plane ride home from the Hunkeler event,” he says. “It was perfect timing for us, too. Our presses were aging out, 15 or 16 years old, so I would have to make a change anyway within the next year. I couldn’t have done it two or three years earlier; inkjet just wasn’t where I needed it to be back then. Now inkjet presses can print on just about any substrate with very few limitations.”