A peek inside the DL printing plant

Presses at Forum Communications in Detroit Lakes run 24 hrs per day, five days per week. The plant employs around 80 people. Photos by Lorie Skarpness/Enterprise.

When the Enterprise shows up in stores and mailboxes, most people don’t give a thought to all of the steps that bring it from photos and stories created in Google docs here in Park Rapids into a printed product.

After design teams at various Forum Communications Company locations put the pages together and proof them, the digital pages are sent to the Detroit Lakes press, also referred to as “the plant,” by a 10:30 a.m. deadline.

From there, the team at the plant takes over. Plant manager Randy Freed said the process for printing 3,428 copies of the Park Rapids Enterprise starts when they receive the digital files.


“We check those files over,” he said. “If OK, we send to our computer-to-plate machine. That machine lasers the image onto a light-sensitive aluminum plate. Those plates are mounted on the printing press and the actual printing process begins. We are now using a process-free plate. Prior to that, the plates had to go through a plate processor with chemicals.”

The printed papers are fed into an inserting machine that puts the inserts into the paper and applies the mailing address.

Papers are sorted for the post office and loaded on the delivery truck. The actual printing takes about 30 minutes, but the entire job from start to finish is about two hours.

Drivers Jerry Weaver and Bernard Gearin, Jr. take the Enterprise truck to the plant Tuesdays and Fridays to pick up the Wednesday and Saturday papers, which are usually ready to go between 2 and 3 p.m.

While out-of-town papers are mailed directly from the plant in Detroit Lakes, the driver delivers them to post offices and businesses in Osage, Park Rapids, Menahga, Nevis and Akeley. Depending on weather and road conditions, each delivery route of approximately 150 miles takes six hours or longer.

Drivers also go to the plant when the 9,468 copies of the Enterprise Express, which goes to everyone in the county who is not a subscriber, is printed each week. That route, which also includes Laporte, averages 225 to 230 miles.

Drivers also pick up and deliver the many special publications produced by the Enterprise and printed in Detroit Lakes, such as the Residents Guide, Business Directory, Church Directory, Summer Scene, Cabin Reader and many more.


Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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