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Greg Cholmondeley

Inside Palm Beach County Graphic Services: More Than Just Printing

Enhancing the community through innovative printing solutions

Jun 27, 2024 8:00:00 PM


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One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is visiting in-plant and commercial print shops. Now, I typically write about software and automation but, the other day, I had the opportunity to tour the Palm Beach County Graphics Division of the Public Affairs Department. During my visit, I met with the staff and decided to share some of my findings that fall outside of my typical purview.


A Well-Planned Shop in a Repurposed Facility

Palm Beach County Graphic Services has two shops: one downtown that focuses on wide-format work, and the one I visited in the western suburbs that produces and mails narrow-format jobs. The facility I visited is in a repurposed water department pump station in the Western suburbs and showcases a series of clever architectural modifications coordinated by John Johnson, the print shop manager. These adaptations have transformed an old, echo-prone water department pump house into an effective printing facility with heat and noise-reducing insulation in the ceiling, under-floor wiring, and an efficient ventilation system built into the floor to vent out dangerous VOCs and maintain a healthy work environment. Even the ample press room lighting is noteworthy with 5,000-degree Kelvin bulbs mounted high in the rafters that cast few shadows and provide the same spectrum lighting as the offset pressmen’s lightboxes for the entire room.



Talmedge Hayes in the offset press room.


Johnson, an active In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA) member, is a man with a keen eye for detail and a passion for problem-solving. This shop houses two four-color Presstek/Mark Andy 52DI offset presses that never stopped running; a new Canon imagePRESS V1350 driven by a Fiery digital front end, which delivers high-quality results with minimal noise; and a host of inserters, stitchers, cutters, and other finishing gear. (The downtown shop contains wide format printers.) However, the heart of his operation is not in its equipment, but in its impact on the community.


John Johnson at his new Canon imagePRESS V1350.


Performance Beyond Printing

The team’s dedication extends beyond printing documents, providing creativity and enhancing services for various county departments. For the fire department, they designed large, color-coded labels for clear medication identification during emergencies—improving patient care and safety. These labels and custom boxes are used at fire stations countywide.


Emergency Response Labels.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, the print shop was pivotal, printing and mailing vital documents and safety signage, as well as distributing free facemasks to all county households.


Their attention to detail includes verifying QR codes and contact information to ensure accuracy. They scan QR codes to ensure correct web page redirection and verify phone numbers to confirm they connect to the intended recipients.


One team member reviews every document for errors, earning a Palm Beach County Golden Palm Award for his thoroughness. This award recognizes exceptional service, innovation, and dedication to improving the community.


They also support neighborhood improvement initiatives. For a county task force, they printed and distributed flyers using the USPS Every Door Direct Mail program, leading to a high meeting turnout. This initiative resulted in the installation of streetlights on a previously dark thoroughfare, enhancing neighborhood safety.


Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

Palm Beach County Graphic Services delivers a level of care and verification unique to internal departments, distinguishing it from commercial printers. The 12-person team produces around $2 million in annual printing with significant community contributions. Their work supports essential services, public safety, and neighborhood improvements—showcasing the true value of in-plant print shops. By going beyond printing, Johnson's team plays a vital role in the county’s public service efforts and community well-being. Their dedication and innovation highlight the meaningful impact in-plant print shops can have on the communities they serve.


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