James Litho continues investments in Heidelberg digital & workflow integration

Dec 14, 2020

Debbie Whisler, James Litho plant manager, and Kenny De Maio, James Litho digital & prepress specialist

KENNESAW, Georgia – In 2014, James Litho, a small commercial printing company in Ontario, California, became one of the earliest adopters of Heidelberg’s digital print platforms when it decided to invest in a Linoprint C901. After six successful years and running upwards of 300,000-400,000 digital sheets per month, James Litho has recently installed its third digital press from Heidelberg, a Versafire EP, replacing its older C901 and complementing its current Versafire CP. 


James Litho services a diverse portfolio of customers in the Southern California market -- from retail/supermarkets, to local manufacturers, municipalities and universities. While having a broad customer base has helped James Litho’s business stay steady during the COVID-19 downturn, it also means having a dynamic range of customer demands. The Versafire EP, capable of printing materials from 35 lb. text to 24 pt. board and duplexing on sheets up to 13” x 27.5”, provides the flexibility James Litho needs to address each of its customers’ individual needs.

“We have not come across any job that the Versafire is not able to run,” President Jeff James said. 

While the diverse substrate range and high speeds of up to 135 letter pages per minute were important in James’ decision to purchase a Versafire EP, James cites two main factors for why he continues to invest in Heidelberg digital presses: cost effective operation and workflow integration with the company’s current Speedmaster SM 74 offset press.

James Litho, a long time Prinect user, recently upgraded its workflow to the subscription-based Prinect Production Manager, which gives the company access to the full Prinect suite of products while also ensuring the software is always up-to-date with the latest releases. Integrated fully with Prinect workflow, both the Versafire EP and Versafire CP are controlled via the Prinect Digital Front End (DFE). Utilizing Heidelberg’s color management and renderers (both tried and tested in offset printing), the Prinect DFE enables print production to be automated and standardized for excellent efficiency.

“From imposition to color management, it’s great having the Prinect integration between our offset and digital platforms," James said. "It’s so efficient, in fact, that we don’t have any dedicated digital press operators. Because of the common workflow platform, our prepress technicians prepare our digital jobs from their prepress workstations and send the jobs to print. With our high capacity delivery, they just press a button and let the Versafires run.” 


A loyal Heidelberg customer, James Litho runs Stahlfolders and POLAR cutters in addition to the Versafires, Speedmaster and Prinect workflow and also recently signed for Prinect Business Manager MIS. While James Litho has looked to Heidelberg as a partner for the past 20+ years, it’s Heidelberg’s plans for the future that keeps James Litho continuing to invest in Heidelberg solutions.

“I think it’s an industry-wide issue that we are going to lose many technically skilled operators in printing in the very near future," James said. "Heidelberg has been thinking about this for years and is really the only company that’s developed all of their products with user-friendliness and automation in mind. From press, to postpress, to prepress – everything from estimating to job tickets – it’s just a complete system.”

As James Litho looks to expand its business into 40” offset in the near future, its goal is to have complete automation throughout every part of its shop. “We know that with Heidelberg’s technology, having automated systems is what’s going to keep us successful and viable moving forward,” James said.

Jeff James started James Litho in 1997 after decades of experience with his family’s print shop. Offering lithography, digital wide format, short run digital, trade show graphics, fulfillment & mailing, and layout & production services, James Litho’s 30,000 sq. ft. facility in Southern California houses about 25 hand-picked associates who have an average of 15 years of experience each. Quality, integrity and personal attention are the trademarks of the company – priding itself on being 100% reliable, 100% of the time. During challenging business times, James Litho is quick in adjusting toward new objectives, offering new solutions and relevant products, and speeding up turn-around time when the urgency is high.