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New capabilities, new mindset for York-based Caskey Group

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York County-based Caskey Group LLC has wrapped up one year without the name “printing” in its trade name.

Among the driving forces in the evolution is digital printing that allows personalization of communications materials.

About 80 percent of the business is still print, President Tony Rife said, with the rest ranging from Web pages to marketing services.

One of the biggest differences during the past several years is how closely sales personnel and other staffers work to develop the communications strategies behind the services that clients can buy from Caskey.

For example, Caskey has a core group of clients in the private-school sector.

Previously, a school would send prospective students a large book with a breadth of information about the institution, but the materials can now be more targeted, Rife said.

So Caskey might print and fulfill an order for a smaller, customized product of maybe a dozen pages highlighting a school's music program, girls' lacrosse team and on-campus housing for a prospective female student who plays the clarinet, plays lacrosse and anticipates staying on the campus, he said.

The company also leverages more traditional printing technology as well as digital to get the job done. A calendar of events mailer can be printed en masse — which makes it less expensive — on an offset press. It can then be filled in with specific information catered to individual recipients by running the calendar mailers through a digital press.

Of course, all of that individualization takes a massive effort to coordinate, Rife said.

Troy Teal came to Caskey in customer service and is now a senior account executive.

He said one of the biggest changes now is whom he feels he works for, considering how closely he partners with clients to get the best results in connecting Caskey's services to what clients want to accomplish.

"I feel more like I'm employed with my customers," Teal said.

After many years in its sales force, Rife became the majority owner of the York-based communications company about a year ago.

Greg Caskey remains as CEO of the operations formerly known as Caskey Printing that began in 1986.

Work within the gaming industry came from a sales visit Rife made in Delaware, and the business expanded to West Virginia. There is now an opportunity starting up in Maryland, he said.

"It's one of those things where we just grew with the industry," Rife said.

No industry knows more information and does a better job with it than the casino and gaming industry, he said. The companies know who likes to play cards, who likes to play slots and even who eats at the on-site restaurant.

All of that data translates into targeted, effective communications.

One tactic Caskey has pursued is working with its clients in other sectors, such as health care or education, to educate them about what is possible with better consumer information tracking, Rife said.

Admittedly, it can be a tough sell to tell a company that, in order to work best with Caskey, it should make changes to the way it works, he said.

Caskey actually leaped a bit too quickly into the digital-printing realm as far as the capital investments it made relative to how fast the offerings actually took off in the marketplace, Greg Caskey said.

But that helped the firm be in a good position going into the downturn of the recession, since it had a few years of learning about digital and its possibilities to offer to clients, he said.

"Right now, it is growing leaps and bounds and will continue to do so," Caskey said.

Caskey’s growth

In the past five years, Caskey acquired York County-based White Rose Printing and Maryland-based The Job Shop printing company, company President Tony Rife said.

The company has grown in that time from 35 full-time employees to 38 full-timers and six part-time employees, he said. Sales have increased about 15 percent.

Out-of-state business is fueling Caskey’s growth, now accounting for about half of its business, Rife said. Greater York and the surrounding area do not have the same presence of large manufacturers that it did before, so the firm has a strong focus on the Baltimore-Washington region.

But the midstate affords Caskey great access to many cities, Rife said. There are even clients in non-targeted areas across the country that have heard about Caskey through reputation and have decided to work with it, said Karen Saxe Eppley, marketing director.

Brent Burkey

Brent Burkey

Brent Burkey covers York County, agribusiness, energy and environment, and workforce issues. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at brentb@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @brentburkey.

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