June 10, 2013
Business Champions 2013/Winner: Innovation

Cromwell's Advanced Copy seeing the future of innovation

PhotoS/Pablo Robles
PhotoS/Pablo Robles
Advanced Copy Technologies Inc. President Greg Gondek and Cindi Gondek, who is its principal and chief financial officer. Below, some of the results of its 3-D printing capabilities.  

To remain the 'finest service and support provider in the marketplace,' Greg and Cindi Gondek knew Advanced Copy needed to be one step ahead of the crowd. That's where 3-D printing came in.

"We're always looking for new technologies and seeing how they can help our customers and clients. For example, when we started [3D printing], everybody looked at us cross-eyed because they didn't know what 3D printers were yet," said Greg Gondek, CEO.

Located in Cromwell, Advanced Copy provides award-winning office equipment, document management services, and now 3-D printing, to thousands of businesses and organizations across Connecticut and Western Massachusetts.

"We knew we had to reinvent ourselves to be one step ahead of everybody," said Cindi Gondek, principal.

Fourteen years ago, Greg and Cindi Gondek purchased Northeast Copy, renaming it. Under their leadership, the company not only took a new name, but also a new direction. The company has even gained national recognition, including three consecutive J.D. Power and associates certifications for providing "an outstanding customer experience."

Greg Gondek said they look at everything from the customer's perspective, showing clients how to be more 'green' and reduce costs.

"We're a copy company showing you how to make less copies," he said.

Gondek attributes much of the company's successful transformation to the unrivaled local talent at Advanced Copy.

"Our employees are senior level, the highest quality," he said. "We're constantly brainstorming with them, we never stop getting better."

One of these employees brought 3-D printing to the Gondek's attention a year and a half ago after publishing a blog post on the up-and-coming technology. At the time, nobody had heard of it and Cindi knew they needed to pursue it. Greg agreed, believing it to be both a big risk and opportunity for the company.

"After doing research, we thought 3-D printers would change the world. It makes manufacturing on demand and changes everything like design and speeds up processing for prototyping," he said. "It let's people test ideas."

Now equipped with the Projet 3500 and ZPrinter450, Advanced Copy Technologies embraced 3D printing to remain competitive in the digital age. Resting on their laurels wasn't an option, Cindi said. In fact, the duo always looks for new opportunities to expand their services and better serve their customers.

"We always look to improve what we do. Improving our services will never end," Greg Gondek said. "That's what makes us different. I judge us by how we treat our smallest client."

Referred to as 'additive manufacturing,' 3-D printing allows anyone to create three-dimensional solid objects using a computer-aided design program (CAD). An additive process, 3D printers construct plastic or metal parts from CAD drawings that have been cross-sectioned into countless layers. From the medical field to manufacturing, 3D printing rapidly produces precise, durable prototypes as well as final products for small and large companies alike.

"This is innovation you can see, touch, feel, hold in your hand," Greg Gondek said. "You know a picture's worth a thousand words. When people see what we're doing, they're blown away by it. It's something that's visible. This is what the future's all about. Innovation you can actually see."

Launched in March, the 3-D printers have allowed Advanced Copy to reach new industries such as architecture, engineering, and aerospace. From concept and design to prototyping and manufacturing, the whole process shortens drastically, whether it be restoring antique mirrors, designing a home, or reproducing the human heart. With the 3-D printer, companies can now print a single part, or even complete product, in a matter of hours — it used to take months.

KVH Industries Inc. is just one of them. With both commercial and military customers, KVH manufactures mobile satellite communications, guidance, and stabilization equipment and solutions. After a quick Internet search, Mark Stolyar, KVH's mechanical engineering manager, realized Advanced Copy's 3D printing capabilities would improve his company's dual process of rapid prototyping and manufacturing.

"By sole nature, 3-D printing is very new, literally evolving daily. So, the line of equipment they [Advanced Copy] represent is top of the line, probably one of the best lines there is," Stolyar said.

With its combination of in-house expertise and commitment, Advanced Copy helped guide KVH's latest project on the road to success, Stolyar said. In fact, the project will conclude in just two weeks.

"We acquire technology [like 3-D printers] to give us some competitive advantage in terms of time to market and shortening the development cycle," Stolyar said. "This is exactly what this technology will help us do."H

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