Louisville’s own Spectra Press and Promotions is no stranger to paper. From business cards and training materials to scores of sheet music, Spectra has got your printing needs covered. Need something in less than 24 hours? No problem.
Spectra owner Bill French works hard to keep employee morale high so that they’re prepared to deliver exceptional service day in and day out. French promotes a mindset that can best be summarized as ‘givers gain.’ He implemented a four-day work week, regularly purchases lunches, and strives to keep his employees healthy. French’s care and compassion for his employees stems from his dedication to his family and to providing a future to them. He named Spectra for his son, who is on the autism spectrum. “I know that he’s going to need additional help down the road so it kind of drives me to be as successful as I can,” French said.
While their name might not scream of a need for material handling products, Spectra is moving truckloads of paper every day. Bill French reports that his business and eleven-person staff are both expanding rapidly. So rapidly, in fact, that French recently completed construction of a 5,500 square foot warehouse expansion and a mezzanine, complete with racking configurations specialized for the storage of various printing supplies and materials. Paper may seem lightweight and easy to move, but when you add thousands of sheets together, the weight and bulk of paper can quickly become a hefty challenge.
“We strap every box that we ship because of the weight, because we know how sometimes the shipping people can handle your carton,” French said. “We make sure that it’s secure when it leaves. We had one customer actually want stuff double boxed and we [took] care of him that way. No problem, no charge.”
The desire to succeed for his family led the driven business growth that necessitated the new warehouse. Before the expansion, Spectra used a small, stationary scissor lift for moving materials on and off of trucks. Along with the new warehousing space, French knew that he needed to update their material handling equipment.
While the budgeted expansion did not allow for a brand-new piece of equipment, French knew that he wanted a specific, refurbished machine. “I was proactive enough to do this at the very beginning when they were just doing the groundwork on the warehouse itself,” French said. He got in touch with ProLift, Spectra’s local Toyota Dealer. “I really was in love with a Toyota lift that ProLift was offering for a lot of good functionality, to maximize space in my warehouse for pallet racking,” French said.
“Spectra has been a good business partner of ours for every bit of 15 years,” said ProLift Sales Manager Steve Varriano. Spectra supplies many printed products to ProLift, from sell sheets and brochures to business cards. The two companies are even located in the same business park.
After discussing French’s needs and goals, ProLift recommended a Toyota Reach Truck as the best solution for Spectra’s development. “The reach truck can maneuver safely in a tight aisle, a nine- or 10-foot aisle, with no problem at all,” Varriano said. “The magic of a reach truck is the forks actually pantograph out from the truck itself. When we’re setting pallet into the rack, the forks move forward and lower and set the product safely onto the pallet rack.”
A reach truck will also meet Spectra’s needs for any future developments, as it allows warehouses to expand vertically and to maintain the same compact aisles for operation. French was excited to acquire a quality used forklift to meet those needs.
“One of the things that I knew was Toyota had a great reliability in their equipment,” French said. “So getting a refurbished piece of machinery, I knew I was getting a practically brand new one. [It] was going to be something that wouldn’t slow us down, it would keep us efficient, and keep us rolling.”
While working with ProLift to select which forklift best met his company’s needs, French was informed by a contractor that the construction of a mezzanine in his new storage area would cost $7,000 more than originally quoted, a huge setback. When he explained the situation to ProLift, they assured French that they’d help with the mezzanine construction.
Varriano reached out to Thomas Rademaker, Warehouse Specialist for ProLift, for a bit of extra help. They worked quickly to make the mezzanine project happen on deadline and within budget. “The design of this mezzanine was set around the flow of product in and out of this facility,” Rademaker said. “We wanted to get additional space, but we didn’t want to cause any disruption to their flow of business. So with the layout a design of the columns and the support of the mezzanine was critical.”
With the construction and updated storage space complete and a used Toyota Reach Truck in operation, Spectra now has space to expand operations and to simplify existing workflow. French looks forward to the future but remembers how far his business has come since he began.
“One of the reasons why we bought the lift, it kinda made me feel like we grew up a little bit that we were able to have a forklift,” French said. “That’s another component in a larger-type operation and that’s what we’re always trying to strive for.”
From the new construction and specialized racking configuration to the forklift hand-selected for his workspace, Bill French is pleased with the assistance and service he received. “Toyota, I believe, has always had an excellent reputation of using something that I know that is not going to break down and fail us. So that was one of the main reasons why I wanted to go to ProLift,” French said. “The people at ProLift really are experts at what they do.”
French sees the expansion and new equipment as indicative of his family, business, and personal progress. In the eleven years he has owned Spectra, he is proud of its progressive upward trajectory. “I see my family’s future,” he said.