UTS also uses Twin Loop Binding, with the manager of printing and imaging services for the university saying, “We have always found them professional, responsive, easy to do business as well as the quality of their work is consistently well presented”.
Rubin attributes the success of the business to the longevity of the staff, sticking to a strict schedule, and thorough quality control measures.
He explains, “The secret of success is to look after your staff, and the longer you have staff, the more reliable and consistent their work gets.
“We have a meticulous system, I have been doing this for over 20 years, and I make sure things are flowing well, downtime is minimised, and that the staff follow the policy of the company: treating every job as their own.
“Customers realise that when they send us a job, they can rely on us to take ownership of the job. Often we find mistakes in print: bleed not the right way, smudges, even missing pages. We are not proof readers but we pick up on this. It is not a case of garbage in, garbage out, we run one or two books, test it, and if there is a problem we stop. There is no point trying to meet a deadline by powering through without the customer’s go ahead
“That is why so many customers come back. Our guys have an eye for detail.”
One telling example was a book written in Japanese, in which Rubin's staff picked up on an error in the text, despite the fact that none of them can read or write in the language.
“That is when you know you have really good staff,” says Rubin proudly.
“We have a flat management system here, and my staff are always free to walk through the door. We have a close, intimate working relationship, and it needs to be for us to survive in such stressful, challenging times.
“Our staff come from all parts of the world, India, Iran, Ghana, New Zealand, Chile, Scotland, and it makes me feel like I am doing my share for a multicultural Australia.”
Rubin is also a migrant, having moved to Australia from South Africa some 22 years ago.
Twin Loop is known for its quick turnarounds, with most of its jobs coming in with only a couple of days notice. With books, customers generally book them in a few days in advance,
so fitting jobs in and adhering to the production schedule is key, says Rubin.
“Some of the bigger companies give us a week, or two weeks notice, which helps. The MIS system we have allows our staff to group jobs; sometimes the punching will be a certain size across work, so we might do all the A5 hole punching, and spiral binding together. Especially when there is PUR binding, we consolidate it as much as possible to maximise the life span of the PUR glue which allows us to bring down the costs for our customers.
“Each time we use the machine, we have to drain the tank, so it is key to get the maximum use out of each tank. If we have not scheduled PUR for the day, but a customer needs it, we will do it, it is just a matter of charging for the full setup, where normally we can split the costs between customers by bundling smaller jobs together.
“We score more than 90 per cent of our covers offline, (even though our perfect binder can score online) because we get a deeper score, which allows us to achieve a squarer finish, improving the quality of the job. It is great, because the customer looks at it and often says, ‘gee, this looks good’.
“We believe that we are only as good as our last job.”
Twin Loop Binding also sells binding supplies and machines, operating as a reseller. Rubin says they fit into the market today as a point of convenience, noting, “A lot of our machine sales are regular customers, that might want a small wire binder, or celloglazing machine, or a punch machine.”
Rubin invested in an MIS system through Hexicom one year ago, purpose built for the business, and he has been ecstatic with the results, saying he’s achieved efficiencies of 40 per cent.
“We looked at three or four different software companies, but they were all geared up for the print industry, and we technically do not do any print. Hexicom despite being designed for the printing industry were able to custom make their MIS software to adapt to our manufacturing needs. All my staff are versatile, and the way we are set up is customer driven. We have a small staff, only nine people, but could deal with 45 customers a day, which is what makes our MIS software so important.
A lot of customers come in and are blown away, it looks extremely professional. All of our jobs are up on the electronic board, everyone can access them, track their progress, and follow it through from beginning to end.”
For Twin Loop Binding, success has come from following the needs of its customers.
Rubin says, “We try to listen to our customers and respond to their needs. A lot of people ask for A4 landscape saddle stitching, so we put in equipment that could handle that, and A4 landscape loop stitching.
“Some people are price sensitive, so we realised that perfect binding is not the right option for everyone, leading us to introduce saddle-stitching.
“In the near future we will be offering in-house celloglazing, as at the moment we outsource it. Our biggest threat is time, and for us to wait for it to go out and come back, it takes too long.
“We want to move towards a one-stop-shop for finishing, bringing that celloglazing in-house, while getting another perfect binding machine that can handle A3.
“Most people do their own celloglazing, but we have a few key customers that store their covers here. For them to be cost effective, they have to do the work in bulk. With our own machine, we could do smaller runs for them, which helps in the long run, as they do not have to pay to store them. It also lets us have more quality control, using digital devices.
“Some printers have a lot of oil in them, meaning the celloglaze tends to lift. If we run a job, and it starts to lift, we need to put it on hold, show it to the customer, so that they then need to get it reprinted and finished with the celloglazing before we can bind it. “That is two-days wasted, and the deadline for the customer has not shifted. So we want to have more control of that process by bringing it in-house.”
The way the market is moving is that everyone wants their work faster, almost instantly, says Rubin.
“We need to explain to people that things take time, but if we can cut back on travel times, courier times, it is a no-brainer that we have to do more in-house.
“For this particular business, we are really geared up for the digital market. We are not like the other binders that deal with runs of 20,000-30,000 we deal with runs of 5 to 5,000, with an upper limit of 15,000-20,000 for wire and spiral binding.
“In print, the runs are getting smaller, but more specialised. There is more print being done than ever before, but it is a different kind of print, it is moving towards printing on jumpers, street signs, cups, mugs, personalised items.
“The small run work is specialised, that people do not want to do in-house. It is perfect binding with folds, or die cut outs, they may be A6 size, or in sequential orders. They are the hard jobs that people send. We cannot pick and choose, we have to be able to do all jobs, and we do.
“So now there is a need for A3 perfect binding, there are not many people in Sydney who can do that work along with yearbooks, scrapbooks.”
For Rubin, as with many small-business owners in the industry, Twin Loop Binding is his only plan for retirement.
He explains, “We always looking for ways to improve, add-on, and add-value. We are moving to become more of a finishing house, not just a bindery. That is where the industry will take us, whether we like it or not.
“We keep adapting, and we are successful because I have no back up plan. I have to make this work. This is my livelihood, my passion, and this is why I am fussy with who I hire.
“The saddest thing is when people do move on, that might have been here for six or seven years, that have to leave for non-work related reasons.
“If you do not have the right people you cannot keep expanding.”
For Rubin and other small business people, who rely on the strength of the business as a long-term investment, phoenix operations can particularly sting.
He says, “Most people run good businesses, but it is always unfortunate when people do not pay their bills, close up, then reopen with another name.
“There should be stricter controls on companies closing and directors starting new companies.”