Press crew cutbacks have been a hard reality of the changing face of newspaper and commercial printing over the years. As a result, newspaper publishers and their employees have become all too familiar with the need to do more with fewer resources.

Still, the newspaper industry has become adept at turning challenges into opportunities, and printers and the vendors that supply their hardware and software have gotten creative when it comes to finding silver linings.

For imPRESSions Worldwide, its “Rent a Pressman,” or RaP, service has been that silver lining. Providing a service to newspapers while creating a new revenue stream has been a win-win.

RaP enables newspaper and commercial printers to hire press operators — dubbed RaP Stars by the vendor — to fill the gap for short-term needs that result from staff cutbacks or to fill in for already sparse crews when employees are on vacation or sick leave.

“With so many companies around the country closing down, newspapers and commercial operations are struggling to run their presses — and we realized an opportunity,” Jimmy Easterly, vice president of imPRESSions, told News & Tech. “We have a lot of ex-press operators working for us, and we knew they could do a lot for our customers to keep their presses up and running.”

The RaP Stars have a breadth of experience, spanning singlewide presses from Goss, Tensor, DGM and Hantscho. For rates of $45-$55 per hour (more for overtime), printers can leverage this service when they are short-handed.

“As our pond of newspaper printers gets smaller, they’re running out of resources themselves,” Easterly said. “We’ve tried to strike a balance of making this service beneficial for them and lucrative for our business.”

Currently, imPRESSions is working with a handful of well-known newspapers, with engagements spanning anywhere from several days to several months — and business shows no signs of slowing.

Service synergies

In addition to supplying staff, there are other synergies in what imPRESSions has been able to provide to printers — namely, supplying press replacement parts.

“We own massive press equipment and parts, and obsolescence is a huge problem in our industry,” Easterly said. “From electrical drives down to deliveries on an old Urbanite, we own equipment and parts. And if we don’t, we can make them in or machine shop.”

imPRESSions, headquartered in Washington state and with a service facility in Mississippi, also provides press maintenance and service as well as training through its RaP program.

“We are happy to be able to provide this service to newspapers and commercial printers,” Easterly said. “We have some exciting projects going on, and we’re just trying to keep up.”