Born into The Fold
Bindery 1 has added new
capabilities, and family
members to manage them,
to offer clients a wide range
of binding/finishing options,
mailing, fulfillment and CD
from one Midwest location.
By CHRIS BAUER
Printing Impressions - Feb 2007
THE HISTORY behind full-service
finishing provider Bindery
1 Inc., of Des Moines, IA, is a
tale based on the American Dream.
Seeking a land of opportunity, Eric
and Lorraine Rokitnicki immigrated
from Poland to the United States in
1963. Eric found work at a commercial
printer within its folding department,
while his wife gained employment as a
Eric had a natural knack for folding,
and enjoyed the challenges of pushing a
machine to its limits with projects that
were thought to be impossible to complete.
He made the most of his talents
and, in 1976, started Bindery 1 with
two employees, a folder and a cutter.
Shortly thereafter, Rokitnicki realized
that a new facility was necessary.
So he purchased a 13,000-square-foot
building and ventured into other
areas of postpress services solely for
the trade. The company continued to
diversify by adding additional equipment
and employees to maximize
capacity and offer more finishing services.
Daughter Gigi Toporek, company
president for the past decade, was
exposed to the business at an early
age, helping out around the office and
in the production department. In 1988,
Gigi became involved full-time with the
family business, learning all aspects of
With this experience, she was able
to understand how to handle paper,
the capabilities of the equipment and
what factors make a quality finished
piece, Toporek recalls.
“With the knowledge gained from
the production floor, I was able to
advance into other parts of the business,”
she notes. “Throughout the
years, I’ve been able to anticipate
customers’ needs and act upon them
by taking whatever means necessary.”
In 1993, Bindery 1 entered the mailing
services market, starting with two
labelers and three inserters. In the
late 1990s the mailing side expanded
into laser personalization with
black and highlight color capabilities.
Throughout the years, the company
added more capabilities, including
custom fulfillment, ink-jet, polybagging and CD-ROM services.
Eric Rokitnicki knew that the mailing
division had enormous potential,
and entrusted his youngest daughter,
Renatta, to oversee its day-to-day
operations after she completed her
studies at Drake University in 2001.
Renatta notes that she learned the
value of hard work and what it takes
to succeed by watching her fellow
family members. The mailing division,
known as Data Solutions, is managed
by Renatta along with her husband,
“We recognized that our Iowa location
was a strategic advantage from a
mailing standpoint,” Renatta points
out. “Our proximity to the Des Moines
BMC (Bulk Mail Center) and all major
Midwest cities makes us attractive to
customers on both coasts. Our location
and range of equipment means we can
often hit an earlier in-home date—a
critical requirement for many direct
marketers—than other providers.”
A Wohlenberg Champion
e perfect binder is the newest addition to
the equipment list at Bindery 1 in Des Moines, IA.
As both Data Solutions and Bindery
1 grew, the need for more production
space became a primary concern for
the two companies.
“By this time, we were operating
from three production facilities
and all three were quite cramped
for space,” Gigi recalls. “We realized
a new plant was required for
efficiency and growth potential.”
So, in 2005, a 150,000-square-foot
facility was purchased, which enabled
Bindery 1 to combine all of its operations
under one roof. Today it is a
multi-shift operation with more than
75 employees. The company
can offer printers a bevy of
finishing options, including
perfect binding; stitching and
trimming; diecutting; folding;
cutting; calendar tinning;
small- and large-format laminating;
fulfillment; CD duplication;
and mailing services such as
ink-jetting, inserting, tip-ons,
bound printed matter, periodicals,
class and letters.
An MBO B 30 Perfection folder with
Palamides autobander is one of a dozen
folding machines in service.
Continuing with the family
theme, Gigi’s husband, John
Toporek, oversees the production
in the bindery/finishing
department. He is constantly
evaluating the state-of-theart
equipment available in the
marketplace that could help
Bindery 1 increase operating efficiencies
and offer more services to its customers.
“We really mean it when we
say everyone here at Bindery 1 is
customer-focused,” Gigi stresses.
“On-time deliveries, consistent
quality and planning expertise
are just a few components of a
great customer experience. Every
Bindery 1 employee knows that
we owe our growth and rock-solid
stability to our clients.”
The company’s principal belief is
that, next to its clientele, information
is its most valuable asset. Information
gathering is job number one for every
individual employed at Bindery 1.
“We are a complete printer’s
resource for all bindery, finishing
and mailing services,” Gigi
promises. “We like to be involved
in the initial planning of the project
to ensure it is printed and produced
in the most efficient and costeffective
Keeping customers first is a mantra
with merit for this finishing firm.
Bindery 1 thrived for more than 30
years without a sales staff—recently
hiring its first salesperson. Prior to
tapping the additional employee, the
company had relied on word of mouth
and its Website to generate work.
The family of finishing experts at
Bindery 1 thinks of its marketplace in
- It is always pushing its geographic
boundaries outward, now boasting
regular customers as far as 500 miles
- The company tries to serve all clients
equally, no matter where they fall
on the large/small continuum. Bindery
1 has the ability to serve the needs of
a 1,000-person facility just as well as
a small printer with five employees.
All customers are deemed important,
regardless of their size.
- Bindery 1 excels at both simple and
complicated jobs—even the "grind-itout"
type of work some trade binderies
might not want to do.
In the past few years, the company
execs began to see a need for
high-quality perfect binding, which
led to the installation last month of
a new Wohlenberg Champion e
perfect binder, purchased through
Colter & Peterson. The new machine
is equipped with computerized/motorized
setup, as well as an optical signature
recognition system to ensure
It can handle a wide variety of book
formats, including soft cover specialty
binding, and features a specialty face
knife unit (VSS trimmer) allowing for
a single pass gate-fold process providing
the ability to recess the book
face prior to cover placement.
Catering to customer needs is the main focus
for all employees at Bindery 1.
"No one in the Midwest was able
to accommodate all of the needs of
customers for perfect binding," John
Toporek assesses. "Our new Wohlenberg
machine will produce standard
hot melt, PUR bind, lay-flat binding,
Swiss brochures and Euro brochures.
We even put a specialty second trimmer
on for gate covers, where you
can have your face undersized from
the foldout—not to mention that we
will do books as thin as 1/16" to 27/16" and
books as big as tabloids. As with any
piece of equipment we buy, we looked
at the diversity that we can bring to
Company execs add that the
Wohlenberg is a proven machine, and
the fact that there is a major service
center right in Des Moines was too
good of an opportunity to pass up.
Bindery 1 has also made substantial
progress over the past year by adding
a variety of other new gear, including:
- A 30" MBO B 30 Perfection 6-6-4
plate folder with Palamides auto-bander
was added to its existing lineup of 11
folders, allowing the company to fold
jobs ranging from pharmaceutical to
large-format work. This installation
has increased the company’s throughput,
provided a smoother workflow,
and cut down on repetitive motions for
- A Canon IR 125VP black-and-white
laser printer for personalization and to
increase its sheet size up to 141/3x181/2".
- Two Bell & Howell Mailstar 400
inserters and two Mailstar 500 inserters,
adding to the seven existing
- A Scott 10000 index tabber.
- Additional diecutters and foil
- A ful ly equipped
machine shop with mills,
lathe, grinders and welders.
"We are always looking
for equipment that will
help our company grow,"
Topo r ek c ont inue s .
"Being a family business,
we are able to make purchasing
We listen to the needs of
our customers and do our
homework. We continue
to add more advanced and
automated technology as
it becomes available."
The newer equipment additions join
an already impressive lineup, which
includes, among others, a Brandtjen
& Kluge foil stamper and embosser;
five diecutters from Heidelberg and
Johannesburg; Heidelberg Pacesetter
705 and 562 saddlestitchers; a complete
mechanical department for spiral
and wire binding; two 45" Polar
cutters with joggers; and a dozen folders,
including 11 Stahl machines and
one H&H unit.
As for Data Solutions, its mailing
division, Bindery 1 is exploring variable
data software for more complex
jobs, as well as online ordering, and
adding capacity to its seven ink-jetting
But where Gigi Toporek feels Bindery
1 really stands out from the rest of
the trade finisher crowd is by offering
personalized and immediate services
both on the customer service end—
where a live person always answers
the phone—and in the manufacturing
"When a promise is made, a promise
is kept," the company president confirms.
"Our staff knows that a company
does not grow by using the word ‘no’—
we must always keep an open mind on
all projects and be ready to act at any
She also maintains that Bindery 1
holds the important strategic advantage
of combining binding, finishing
and mailing expertise under one roof.
"Mailing is a different business; one
that requires a significantly different
skill set," Gigi contends. "But when
you get it right, it provides a major
competitive advantage in the marketplace."
Renatta Bolen notes that all mail
produced by Data Solutions is verified
by an in-plant postal representative
based on the company’s increasing
"An onsite postal inspector is
a must for turning around highvolume
drops within the schedules
our customers demand," she says.
But don’t think this finishing family
is ready to rest on its laurels just
yet. Gigi plans to continue to listen
to the needs of Bindery 1’s customers,
install more fully automated
and productive machines and,
in turn, pass along the resultant
savings to clients.
"We’re on a path of continued
growth," she concludes. "Bindery 1 is
willing to make wise investments in
our future success, even while many
others are pulling back. This has
made—and will continue to make—a
positive difference for us over the long