When Stevenson-The Color Company decided to build a new 80,000-square-foot facility on Wilmer Avenue in 1999, it was with one thing in mind: larger capacity.

Oh, and by the way, they added a very, very big printing press.

The Mitsubishi 7-Colors Plus Tower Coater Offset press has speeds of up to 14,000 sheets per hour. Its maximum print size"”37.5 x 51 inches"”means it can also produce banners and end-cap displays that won't run on the typical 28 x 40 commercial press. Stevenson also has a six-color press with the ability to run hybrid ultraviolet ink, a process that allows for printing on non-porous surfaces such as styrene or plastic. Think static-cling decals on your grocer's freezer doors.

"We definitely made decisions around our equipment to be able to do things that were not easily done elsewhere," says Jeff Stevenson, CEO and fourth-generation leader of the privately held company.

Founded 80 years ago by Thomas Stevenson, the business was known as Stevenson Photo Color Co. because it specialized in color separations and photo mechanical processes. People kept trying to drop off rolls of film for developing, so the name changed with the move to Wilmer Avenue.

Jeff Stevenson realized he had to re-invent the company's focus. "Printing is a mature industry with over-capacity, and can be treated like a commodity. So the first press we put into this market had to be unique to the commercial world," he explains.

In addition to its state-of-the-art printing capabilities, the company continues to emphasize the prepress services the company was founded on. Now an all-digital process, prepress is the step between design and creating the plates for printing: everything from layout to color separations.

Stevenson maintains an information-technology staff and the equipment to get the job done. The ability to have all necessary art work in one place and readily accessible is a huge asset for customers. Art work for every project can be instantly found and re-purposed for any project.

The company's digital expertise also gives it the flexibility to work with almost anything the client wants to use. That's the prepress legacy of The Color Company.

"We get art work from around the world and we send files around the world," Jeff Stevenson notes. "If you went to a normal commercial printer they would dictate that you have to give it to me in Illustrator 7 or Photoshop, or I can't do it. Well, we have never had the luxury of telling anybody how to create their own work."

Stevenson has been with the company for 29 years. At least 60 percent of the business it has now represents work that company didn't do at all 10 years ago. He says its strong history and large capacity on the prepress side"”and the ability to make color print well no matter the medium"”makes the company unique in Cincinnati, which is known for its competitive printing industry.

Stevenson's strategic move took about three years to begin paying off. Now the company has 112 full-time employees, and annual revenue grew from $12 millon in 2000 to $18.6 million last year.

"We have never been totally specialized in one particular niche," Stevenson notes. "We have gone in and learned and developed what we needed to take care of a customer and to stay with them"”and that business model has been very successful for us."