A state-of-the-art press goes online this month in Lancaster County as Steinman Communications bolsters its local printing capabilities.
The press in the Greenfield Corporate Center in East Lampeter Township will soon begin producing Lancaster Farming, Ephrata Review, The Elizabethtown Advocate and The Lititz Record, which are now printed at a Steinman-owned press in Ephrata Borough.
LNP will be added to the printing schedule in April 2020 once its current printing contract expires with Advance Local in Mechanicsburg. That contract began in May 2015 when Steinman shifted production from downtown Lancaster to the regional printer in Mechanicsburg.
While the move to the Mechanicsburg press improved the color and physical quality of the newspaper, it added travel time that pushed newsroom deadlines ahead of some late-breaking news or the ends of some sports games.
“We didn’t have the flexibility like when you have your own press,” said Ralph Martin, executive vice president of Steinman Communications, parent company of LNP Media Group.
But that flexibility will be returning with a local press that will allow LNP to push its deadlines back, making it possible to get more news in the next day’s paper, including the results of more late Eagles and Phillies games.
“You want to wait as long as you can to get the best stories you can for your readers,” Martin said.
And once the pages roll off the new press, they will be 1 ¼” wider and ¾” taller.
Martin said the new press, which uses offset printing technology, will also be much more efficient. For example, it will take half a day to print the weekly Lancaster Farming instead of the daylong effort that now entails.
That efficiency will allow more time to print other publications.
“Commercial printing for newspapers is the specialty,” Martin said.
While the new press is tapping into a real demand for printing of outside publications, Martin said the primary purpose remains to better serve LNP print customers, particularly by being able to set later press deadlines.
“Our first goal was to bring our press back so we can control that better ourselves,” he said.
Bring the press back
Over the last couple years, Martin said, Steinman Communications has been exploring ways to return newspaper production to Lancaster. That effort became more feasible when quality used press equipment became available as printing operations consolidated around the country.
The fully automated system for the press is being set up by EAE, a German company that supplies control and automation systems for newspaper printers.
In addition to sporting an updated control system that reduces printing time, the location of the new press— just minutes from the Greenfield Road exit of Route 30— reduces travel time for trucks in and out of the facility.
The operation in the 48,000-square foot leased building at 1704 Hempstead Road will eventually be run by 30 to 40 employees, including the 12 positions that are being transferred from Ephrata.
Martin said once everything is shifted over to Greenfield over the next several months, a decision will be made about what to do with the press in Ephrata.
It’s all part of charting a new direction for the company by resuming a core newspaper function.
“There’s just a lot of ‘new,’” Martin said. “And were anxious to get things started so we can see how the ‘new’ is working.”