PUTTING CUSTOMERS’ REPUTATIONS FIRST.
If there is an edict that the Stouse team follows on a day-to-day basis, it is about looking out for their distributors. They know resellers are handing them more than just a job, they are handing them their reputation. The philosophy of treating people as business partners, not transactions, is one of the three tenets that has help fashion the success of the wholesale trade printer. The other two are providing a customer service team that cares about its resellers’ reputation, always helping ensure every print project is successful by asking the right questions and making sure no detail is missed, and delivering high-quality products on time.
The strategy is engrained into the philosophy of the 400-plus employees that help run three shifts, six days a week at the 180,000-square-foot facility near Kansas City, Kansas. Having an up close and personal relationship with their customers is something that the Stouse team takes to heart. For example, all incoming calls during normal business hours are answered by a real person. Customers never get an automated prompt.
“Providing excellent customer service is huge for us,” says Dave Christensen, chief technology officer. “We are not just a printer, we are a trusted partner with a quality operation. Building relationships that extend beyond just a sale is the difference between getting the job done, and getting the job done right.”
The company, which offers screen, digital and flexographic printing, is also driven by the success of its resources, which include Fujifilm’s AMP and PEL screen inks. The products output on a variety of substrates, including polypropylene, polystyrene and white vinyl.
When it comes to screen ink, conversations typically center on sheets per gallon and square feet per gallon and white ink, which make the topic perfect for the Stouse team. “We are averaging 2,500 square feet a gallon,” Christensen says. “And the white ink is excellent, very opaque. We use a lot of white ink on chromes and clear products where we want a barrier or a real-white background to stand out.”
The fact that Fujifilm screen inks are made in America is another benefit for the Stouse team.
“To source our screen inks from the U.S., knowing we are supporting American jobs, makes everyone here proud,” Christensen says. “Fujifilm stands behind their products, and our organization views Fujifilm as a partner, because (Fujifilm) helps support us to make sure we consistently have a great product.”
BUILT FOR THE LONG HAUL
Stouse, LLC was founded as Stouse Sign Service in the early 1950s, where it specialized in sign painting and billboards. In 1977, the company was purchased and the product line was expanded to include bumper stickers and other screen-printed products. In 1979, it produced its first catalog, a much smaller version of today’s Full Line Catalog.
Around that time, the company relocated to an 18,000-square-foot building on Roanoke Road in Kansas City, Missouri and became Stouse Inc. By 1988, already outgrowing its Roanoke Road facility, it constructed a 37,000-square-foot building in its Kansas facility.
Over the years, spurred on by the success of its screen and flexo-printed products, Stouse made an addition that more than doubled the facility’s size (in 1992 and again in 1996). As technology and ink durability improved, Stouse continued its growth spurt, adding four forms of digital printing. Several years ago, Stouse management and prior ownership recapitalized the company and changed the name to Stouse, LLC.
“For more than 40 years, Stouse has been perfecting its craft,” Christensen says. “It is about creating partnerships with our resellers that are built on trust.”