Automated Graphic Systems: Using Data and Technology to Deliver Highly Personalized Communications

Posted by: Economic Development Team on Monday, June 10, 2019

Automated Graphic Systems (AGS) of White Plains is the largest printer in Charles County, but they’re not your traditional commercial print company.  Data is their specialty, and using that combined with cutting-edge technology, they manufacture books and other highly personalized and customized print pieces.

Founded in 1975, AGS began as a composition and typesetting company that focused on creation of pages from database files.  The company was eventually acquired by R.R. Donnelley & Sons, and four decades later, AGS still focuses on print but has expanded into variable data processing, programming, composition, translations, graphic design, marketing services, and the supporting ancillary services of storage, fulfillment, finishing (mechanical, hand, and machine bindery operations), and mailing.

And, they continue to grow. President Mike Donohue said, “In our 3-year business plan, we plan to grow over 10 percent a year.  Much of our projected growth is in the Washington DC/Southern Maryland area.”

Harnessing the power of data, technology, and innovation

Since 2010, AGS has invested more than $5 million dollars in equipment and capabilities, including the Kodak Prosper 5000XLI digital web press and Authentiguard anti-counterfeiting technology. In simpler terms, here’s what they do:

Kodak Prosper 5000XLI offers a cost-effective option for high-volume, variable data needs.

“For the retail market, we have the Kodak Prosper 5000XLI that we’re using for local companies where they produce short-run books, as well as mailings and coupons that are highly variable,” said Donohue. “So instead of doing 5,000 pieces that are all the same, we can produce different versions for different locations.  We have customers that produce over 100 versions in a single run, and it’s very cost effective.”

Costs are lower, and throughput is higher than traditional digital printing, making it ideal for high-volume applications like healthcare mandated communications, financial documents, billing statements, customer loyalty programs, and custom publishing.

Authentiguard protects high-value books against counterfeiting.

AGS uses Authentiguard technology (a counterfeit protection product) to print a screen on the pages of high-value books whereby they can’t be sold on the black market by photocopying the pages. “When you try to do that with our technology, it’s illegible,” says Donohue. “For a book that sells for $500, we have customers who apply that technology that allows them to sell their books for $500 and not have them on the black market selling for $75.”

Working at AGS

AGS is very much a “peak and valley” business, and during those peaks, they rely mostly on Charles County based Kenney Staffing to find temporary labor.  “Most of these people,” says Donohue, “are from the immediate area. When temps come through Kenney Staffing during peak periods, if it works well on both sides, and we have an opening, we’ll make them full-time employees.”

AGS is currently hiring for these three full-time positions in White Plains:

“Once we get a good employee, they usually stay,” says Donohue. “We have a lot of long tenured employees, as well as the new ones, who bring a lot of energy to the organization.”

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