14 December 2011
Fenske prospers with Prosper press
RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA—Kodak hosted an open house for media and analysts last week at Fenske Media in South Dakota, where the Prosper 5000XL inkjet press has been operating for about a year. PrintCAN was there.

Fenske, one of the most beautiful print shops around with picture windows that look out to the Black Hills Mountains and Mount Rushmore, has travelled from a traditional offset printer, to a data-driven company that specializes in integrated communications delivery.

Prosper 5000XL inkjet press

The core of the Fenske operation is its central database and data management capability that connects the services the company offers. These include direct mail, e-mail distribution, PURLs, phone connectivity, business integration and multi-channel response. Its key vertical clients come from banks, financials and non-profit corporations, but according to Tom Fenske, one of four brothers who own and run the firm, the real clients are those who have the data to leverage, typically with a list of 25,000 to 50,000 names. According to Tom, “Data is the trigger behind what we do.” About eight of its 40-plus staff works on the database.

In addition to the Prosper, Fenske also has a Kodak Nexpress and a Versamark VL 2000 in its 77,000 sq. ft. facility. Four years ago the work it pumped out was split evenly between offset and digital. Last year, it tipped to 60% digital, and the digital is growing by about 5% every two years. It is now the second-largest mailer in South Dakota, and about 35% of Prosper jobs are new work that's come recently to the shop, a portion that’s expected to grow.

Fenske Media in South Dakota

Despite the hardcore database foundation, printing still accounts for about 80% of company revenue. “Print works as a closer,” said Tom Fenske. “All the rest, like e-mails and the internet, are to warm you up.” He said they’ve tracked average response rates of 2% with internet activities, but 15% with printed mail.

At the event, Kodak also delivered a briefing on its business and markets. Prosper models are now installed in six continents. Most of the installations are deployed in publishing — 58% — while 25% are in direct mail and 17% in communications. Page volumes in the U.S. have grown 46% in the last two months, primarily in higher education, said company reps.

Kodak also took the opportunity to announce that a new group is being formed within the company, called the Inkjet Technology Partnership Group, with a mandate to form strategic partnerships and licensing agreements for its Stream technology, which is what the Prosper heads are built on. Focus for the OEMs will be in publishing, industrial applications, and packaging.

In addition, Kodak revealed a new positioning for the company that is a clue to its Drupa plans: Digital your way. Its three-pronged strategy is based on delivering profitability, by maximizing applications and flexibility while streamlining the supply chain; providing upgradeable, modular systems; and delivering products that transform the industry.
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