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Moore Langen Printing Co: the oldest printing company this side of the Adirondacks.

The oldest printing company this side of the Adirondacks?

Moore Langen Printing Co.

The philosophy is simple. Terre Haute-based Moore Langen Printing Co. tries to separate itself from the rest of the printing industry.

President James J. Whalen likes to call it "partnershipping" with clients. He cites a strong customer base of nearly 280 accounts nationwide, many of which have been working with Moore Langen for several years.

Under Whalen's direction, Moore Langen has more than doubled its gross sales over the past decade, from between $3 million and $4 million in the early 1980s to a projected $10 million in 1991. The company has grown at a rate of about 20 percent a year, and Whalen expects 15 percent growth this year over last--even though the printing industry has been hit by the current nationwide economic downturn.

Whalen joined the company at the tender age of 14. He grew with the company as he learned more about it and took over the reins about nine years ago from his father, the late Edward Whalen.

The company, which has been in the Whalen family since 1948, is rich in history. Many national trends and historical events are traceable through old company records and photographs, Whalen notes. Moore Langen was founded in 1874, when Thadeous Moore (a wagon body maker) and Robert Langen (a wagon wheelwright) joined forces to serve the schedule-printing needs of the then-thriving railroad industry. As that market niche deteriorated, Moore and Langen found other orders to fill to continue building what Whalen claims is the oldest printing company this side of the Adirondacks.

"The old Moore Langen was well ahead of its time," Whalen says. "They treated their employees well and involved them much like we do today. It was a nice way to start, and we are very proud to be able to pass that legacy on to our employees today." The new Moore Langen, as a result, enjoys a less than 1 percent employee turnover rate, and it boasts about its 30- and 35-year employees who have worked for the company all their adult lives.

Employee dedication, Whalen says, is a big reason why the company has been successful. Another part is Moore Langen's ongoing commitment to improving technology. The company has a full range of state-of-the-art equipment from its prepress area to its bindery--all of which is less than six years old. Its 30,000-square-foot facility is equipped with four sheet-fed presses that range in printing capability from two- to six-color.

The company's most recent acquisition--and probably its best-known--is one of its two six-color presses, which features on-line aqueous coating capability. Moore Langen was one of the first companies in the United States to install a press that applies such a coating to paper.

With the new press, Moore Langen can offer its clients an environmentally friendly alternative when choosing a printer. The new press applies a water-based coating that gives printed products the same "finished" look as ultraviolet and varnish coatings, among others. The difference is that Moore Langen's process eliminates the potential for residual chemical harm to the environment, Whalen says.

The coater, in addition to complying with Environmental Protection Agency standards, enhances the look of printed sheets, Whalen says, offering high scuff resistance and rub resistance. The aqueous coating also is much more economical than other coatings of similar quality.

The decision to buy the press was an easy one, Whalen says. "We're certainly feeling pressures, as we should, from the national level to go well beyond the norm to protect the environment." Moore Langen is doing its part, Whalen adds, by recycling all its wastepaper and treating everything in its building as if it were hazardous waste.

Moore Langen's efforts may be deemed by some as "cutting edge" for the printing industry now, but Whalen believes it will be the minimum standard by which all printers will operate in the near future. "We feel it's a good investment for the next generation, even if it's an added cost of doing business." Whalen says his company is willing to share its getting-green experiences with others who want to do the same because, he says, "it helps us all."

What the company doesn't want to share is its competitive advantage over other printers--an advantage that has been hard-earned by Moore Langen employees working in sales offices and production facilities in Terre Haute, Indianapolis, Chicago, Evansville and Paris, Ill. Know the old saying about location being everything? Whalen is a believer. The Midwest, he says, is a prime location for printers, even though customers come from across the United States. "Logistically, I don't think we could be better pleased with any location. Terre Haute's central location to everywhere in the U.S. has been a big element in our overall growth." Being in the Midwest allows Moore Langen to fulfill its on-time delivery promises with little if any trouble. It also helps the company operate on a "just-in-time" basis, where materials needed to go to press are delivered the day before or day of the press run. That practice keeps the printer from tying up space and resources with extensive stocks of raw materials.

Some printers are "breaking away with technology, while others are assuming the traditional role of waiting on orders to come in," he explains. Those "enlightened printers that have really bought into the technology and service commitment" are bound to experience a decade of strong growth, he says. Those in the other group will probably either merge, winnow out or disappear altogether, Whalen predicts. Moore Langen, he says, is a member of the "enlightened" group and is ready for the 1990s.

PHOTO : Green Tech: Moore Langen is proud of its environmentally friendly printing process.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Curtis Magazine Group, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Porter, Kelly S.
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Apr 1, 1991
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