AN imPRESSive Milestone for The Daily Sun

New Production Facility and Printing Press Primed for Growing Demand

Written by Rica Keenum

It’s like stepping inside a futuristic clock, with rolling tracks and shiny metal parts. The Koenig & Bauer Commander CT press does not tell time. Rather, it is a sign of the times — proof of the Daily Sun’s forward movement when newspapers across the country are shutting down. The 103,000-square-foot production facility located in the Governor Rick Scott Industrial Park is home to the state-of-the-art web press for conventional offset printing.

With newspaper circulation more than 60,000 and the subscriber rate increasing, preparations for the facility and press began roughly two years ago. On Feb. 15, 2019, associate publisher Jim Sprung sat down for a meeting in Las Vegas.

“We met with the last two press manufacturers; we also looked at used equipment and considered moving it,” Sprung said. “We drew our plans out on a napkin — Steve Infinger (director of operations for The Villages Media Group), Dan Sprung (director of marketing and publishing) and Phil Markward (publisher). We took it from a napkin to a white board. From a whiteboard, we started laying out different configurations. We visited seven or eight newer print facilities. We looked at what they did and how they did it — how they laid things out.”

Sprung notes that the original napkin drawing looks a lot like the finished product — the concept the four men initially dreamed up. “We all signed a pledge that we would see this through,” he said.

Commitment has been key from the very beginning, earning The Villages Daily Sun its impressive stats.

“It’s the only newspaper that’s growing in The United States,” Sprung said. “All these years, even during a number of hurricanes, we’ve never missed a deadline. The area is growing — we had to grow, too.”

To reach new customers in the expanding territory, the new press prints three times faster than the Daily Sun’s current press.

“It’s important to us to continue to provide the latest news and information in a timely fashion,” Sprung said. “With the speed of the new press, we have the ability to hit the entire delivery area with the same deadlines and methods.”

The new cutting-edge workhorse features comprehensive automation, optimized startup, the capability to speed-print a quality product and advanced software to streamline maintenance and repairs. The equipment also will allow The Villages Media Group to take on more commercial work in addition to the dailies, weeklies and monthlies the press already prints.

“It’s the first new installation in the United States in the last 10 years, and more than likely will be the last,” Sprung said. “We will continue to be relevant and to print a product we’re all proud of.”

As the new press pumps out newspapers, readers will notice a slightly different size. Aside from that, not much will change. The action has already happened behind the scenes.