It was all I could

think about... my

very own high-

tech, pneumatic

mounter/laminator

complete with

pressure and

temperature

gauges and

a cool, lighted

button panel.

ow I can proudly say, "We do it in-house," not the more abstract, "Yeah, we can get it done," or, "We do that at our 'other production facility' (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)."
   But I soon discovered that the price of the laminator was only the beginning of the cost of actually doing lamination.

WHERE DO I PLUG IT?
After nervously writing the biggest check of my life, I proudly told the delivery guys where I wanted the beast. We built a special production room -- dust- and dog-hair-free, and enough light to make you feel silly. I finally did it: my dream production room and a top-of-the-line laminator.
   My advice is to totally investigate laminators before you buy. There are some seductive package deals out there, but to do high-end work you need a good pneumatic laminator with at least one heated roller and the ability to mount to boards 1'' thick. These are precision machines, and after seeing what the cheaper laminators do, I'm convinced that they belong with the amateurs.
   So there I was, holding a strange industrial plug. I actually studied the oversized 220-volt plug with the desperate belief that I could somehow make it work. I really wanted to turn the laminator on; it was like getting a cool toy without batteries.
   Keep in mind, I knew nothing about how to actually laminate. I had made a solemn vow to myself not to learn. If I did learn, then I would inevitably be doing it instead of running the business or sleeping.
   Well, I got my checkbook out again and called my electrician. You could almost see the electrician salivate as I showed him where I needed the 220 outlet plug to be.
   "And, where is your panel?" he said.
   I said, "It's over there," with a grand gesture.
   As the words hung there in the cavernous warehouse,

we both squinted to see the distant, main electronic panel. It turns out that my production room couldn't have been built farther from the panel.
   Seven-hundred-fifty dollars later, I had a glowing control panel.
   Cool.

WHO IS GOING TO RUN IT?
Next, I needed an experienced laminator because redos blow time and money, and are in no way worth the savings of hiring someone without experience. I bought my laminator perhaps too soon, because I was not busy enough to hire someone full-time. Luckily, I'd worked with many laminators in the past, and I found a few willing to work nights and weekends.
   Doing it this way is cost-effective, but it actually complicates my life and my business. In the past, I would print out a job and then drop it off at the laminator's shop, and my worries were over. Now I have to make sure I have someone to work when I need them - and I have to stay at work until they're done.
   I had one job that I couldn't get to until the day before it was due. When the print finished (about 4:30 p.m.), I noticed the magenta cartridge blew out 6'' before the end of the 10' print. There was no time to reprint it and still have my laminator come by after work, so I reprinted that night.
   As I lay in bed, I envisioned myself coolly working the big machine. I've watched him do it, and I even had him explain it to me a couple of times. How hard can it be?
   Well, have you ever seen that show America's Funniest Home Videos? I could almost hear that comic genius of a host making wise cracks as my assistant and I ran around the lamintor watching the print curl, crease, go off track, and finally bring the squealing beast to a halt.
   I got my trusty checkbook out and made a service call. It turns out we just blew a fuse. I paid my $100 citation and wondered if it (click to continue)


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