Newspaper plans multimillion-dollar investment for new press

Sunday, July 28, 2002

IMAGE ENHANCEMENT

By Callie Chitwood ~ Southeast Missourian

The Southeast Missourian will build an addition for a new press at its production plant on William Street and is scheduled to install the new press by the end of the year, officials of Rust Communications Inc. have announced. The total project will cost $3 million.

Southeast Missourian readers and advertisers can look forward to much improved printing quality in the next six months with the recent purchase of the new $2.5 million press.

The new press, manufactured by Dauphin Graphic Machine, also will mean expanded color printing capability for both news and advertising products. The Southeast Missourian production plant also prints other newspapers and commercial advertising inserts.

"A new press is a major investment for our company, but we're committed to having one of the finest newspapers in the country, not only in content, but in reproduction as well," said Jon Rust, co-president of Rust Communications.

"Our press crew has made heroic efforts for the past few years to provide good quality with outdated equipment," said Rex Rust, co-president of the company. "I'm personally excited to see how great our product will be with cutting-edge technology."

To house the new press, the company is building a 6,000-square-foot addition to the printing facility at 500 William St. The Southeast Missourian's news, advertising, circulation and business offices are at 301 Broadway. Rust Communications also has a commercial printing operation, Concord Printing Services, at 430 Broadway.

In addition, Rust Communications includes 13 other daily newspapers and 35 weekly newspapers in seven states.

Installed this year

John Renaud, production coordinator at the Southeast Missourian, said the new building should be completed by Dec. 1 so the press can be installed by the end of the year. An existing structure, which formerly was a residence, will be razed.

Unlike the current press, which dates back to 1983, the new press is designed for four-color process printing, Renaud said. Not only will printing quality improve, but the new press is also much faster, with the capacity to print 35,000 copies an hour rather than the 20,000 output of the current press.

Another time-saving feature is that press crews will be able to change paper rolls on the new press without an interruption in printing. For readers, this will mean more late-breaking news in their morning papers because late-night deadlines can be extended.

"This is a state-of-the-art production facility that will allow us to provide the market with an excellent print-quality newspaper," said Southeast Missourian publisher Wally Lage, who is also chief operating officer of Rust Communications. "That's not something we've been able to provide on a consistent basis with the current press."

According to Lage, construction of an addition to the production plant also serves as a commitment to the facility on William Street, which Rust Communications officials had considered relocating at one point. He also said that the new building and press will most likely lead to additional employment opportunities in the future.

"We're investing $3 million into the local community, and this investment is in what many might consider a blighted part of the community," Lage said. "It's great to be with a family-owned newspaper company that's growing."

cchitwood@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

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