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The Training Benchmark: How Does Your Company Compare to Industry Leaders? (Premium Content)

Although cross-training is certainly important, it is only one component of the overall training pie. This article discusses other considerations that are equally or even more important, including how well our industry trains and how your company compares to the leaders in the industry.

Turmoil in the Garden of Meredith - September 2015 M&A Activity

September 2015 –Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring in the Printing, Packaging & Related Industries

Changes in Commercial Printing Employment by State

Our developing relationship with the economic statistics provider ExpliStats allows the WhatTheyThink Economics and Research Center to have access to many new data series that provide perspective about states and regions, not just national data. The chart shows the changes in the average number of employees per establishment in the US and large printing states. The average size of printing businesses in an area offers clues to the kinds of printing produced there and the history of the industry in that area. Illinois, where there were major corporate headquarters and is a central state with good transportation throughout the country, tended to have more large shops than typical. Many of the prime printed products produced in the area have declined, and unionized printers have had great competition from printers in other geographies. The state has had well-documented economic problems, and average employment has declined. Florida has many retirees and tourism businesses, which have tended to use local printers for their needs. The Texas printing industry benefits from a stronger local economy, and some establishments have been growing. Despite California's problems, its strong high tech and entertainment industries have kept this printing establishment characteristic stable.

A Strategic Approach to Print Workflow Automation

All printers should be thinking about “workflow automation” as a strategic initiative; produce more with less labor, less waste, in less time as a way to remain competitive. Time savings should be strategically invested in diversification, new skills acquisition, and cross-training.

TruTag Technologies Pushes Back Against the Pharma Fakers, One Tablet at a Time

A dust-sized anti-counterfeiting tag for medicine pills? Turns out the idea isn’t hard to swallow or digest.

Image Test Labs: New Sheriff in Town for Grading Press Performance

Three pairs of eyes that have seen it all in print measurement are looking straight at the acceptability of press output from machines of every type.

Cracked Rear View

We’re always trying to look at things—trends, technology, etc.—from a historical perspective. We try to compare new phenomena to older phenomena that we understand. That’s normal. History is cyclical, isn’t it?

Profit Leaders Take It All, Again (Premium Content)

The PIA Financial Ratios have been published for decades, and may be the most recognized of the association's publications. There are, of course, problems with all kinds of research gathering efforts, but the positives of the Ratios reports outweigh the negatives from a methodological standpoint.

Debt as a Percentage of GDP

Many people confuse debt and deficit when they see it as part of the Federal government's annual budget. Deficit is the annual shortfall between a government's spending and its revenues. Debt is the accumulation of all of the deficits and surpluses of the prior years in that government's history. The chart below shows the accumulated deficits as a percentage of that year's Gross Domestic Product. When debt is at 100% that means that it is the same size as the economy, in the range of $18 trillion. On a GAAP basis (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) that takes into account future obligations, the Federal debt is approximately 5x annual GDP. Among the concerns about the debt is the current interest rate environment. With debt at $18 trillion, a +1% change in the interest rate paid by the government will increase Federal spending by $180 billion. The markets for government obligations are influenced by the actions of the Federal Reserve; a rate increase may decrease the value of obligations held by investors, pension funds, and the instruments purchased by the Fed in its Quantitative Easing initiatives. The Fed is designed to be an apolitical and independent organization, but the political pressures on the Fed as their actions affect government spending are likely to be significant once the Fed gets on a course of meaningful rate increases. Those rate increases may play a role in increasing debt as a percentage of GDP.

Updated Printing Industry Capacity Utilization Data – Not What Everyone Thinks It Is

Even in the industry's most profitable and growing years, the mantra “there's too much capacity in the industry” was always heard. It's been a misplaced and inaccurate portrayal of the business, yet it persists.

Mobile is at the Heart of the Customer Experience!

Mobile technology can interact with the consumer at the most contextually relevant time and location possible. Mobile can and will work when it is used properly. This article discusses the fundamentals of creating a true customer experience and explores how Target Stores created an effective mobile campaign for the 2014 holiday season.

As Publication Markets Decline, SAPPI Steps Up Its Profile in Packaging

Anyone who has ever picked up a glossy magazine probably has touched SAPPI publication paper. Now the company hopes to achieve the same kind of ubiquity with its packaging papers.

Successfully Building Storefronts…And Managing The Scope Creep

One of the most common calls we get is from people frustrated about trying to build storefronts for their customers. The questions we get are often along these lines: “I’ve had this software for 6 months and we have only launched one store. Why is it taking so long?”; “Are my people qualified to build these storefronts?”; “I have no idea where to start, where should we start?”

The Cassavetes Project Opens at Canon Hollywood

In 1981, L.A. photographer Steve Reisch captured legendary director John Cassavetes and his stock company backstage as they rehearsed and performed an experimental series of plays. Unseen for 34 years, the images have been brought back to life thanks to a partnership between Reisch and Canon USA.

Four Key Trends Driving Flexible Packaging

The advantages of flexible films—economy, versatility, convenience, and bio-adaptability—will make flexible packaging one of the most opportune growth markets in packaging over the next several years.

Software’s Impact on the Future of Print

Print is a manufacturing process built on technology. As new technological developments emerge, the print industry grows in capability, productivity, and value. In the last twenty years, a boom in global innovation has coincided with new business models and brought print into the fold in a lot of newfound industries. Allan Brow, Kodak's Vice President Software Solutions Division shares his thought on the future of print in this article sponsored by Kodak.

The State of the Economy and Print (Premium Content)

Dr. Joe wonders why there isn't a little spring to the industry's step with 14 months of better sales levels. It could just be that printers a feeling a sense of relief as they wonder what's next. And then there's the economy. Second quarter GDP look great, but was really less filling. He scratches the economic surface and finds some skepticism inside. If he didn't, he wouldn't be Dr. Joe.

The Customer Experience (CX) Factor: It’s Time to Get in the Game! (Premium Content)

By improving the customer experience, businesses can drive value, reduce cost, and build a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Customers are seeking partners that deliver solutions beyond simple variable data, pURLs, and customized landing pages. The article explores how businesses can gain a competitive advantage by delivering an improved customer experience.

Wide-Format’s Expanded Presence at Graph Expo 2015

If it jets ink, it’s a hot technology, and while production inkjet got the bulk of the buzz at last week’s Graph Expo, wide-format and specialty printing continue to play a much larger role.

Wrapping Up Packaging at Graph Expo 2015

Those who came to the show in search of answers for packaging production should have had no trouble locating them in the vendor stands and specialty areas where packaging solutions were being featured.

Inkjet On Fire at Graph Expo 2015

Production inkjet held center stage at Graph Expo 2015, proving that has gone mainstream. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne looks at some of the announcements and the North American debuts for this game-changing technology.

Canada's Commercial Printing Shipments

Canada's commercial printing industry had a small rebound more than three years ago, before that of the US, and has been on a somewhat steady course since. In US dollars, however, Canada's gains market have been erased recently with the stronger dollar. Canada's recent slip into what appears to be a mild recession will be interesting from a media perspective. When the economy grows, there is more money to experiment with media alternatives. When an economy contracts, there is more interest in the budget savings that digital alternatives might provide. In either case, there are dislocations of what is perceived to be the status quo. It will take a while for the effects of the decline in commodity prices that appear to have caused Canada's recession to ripple through to non-commodity media budgets. It is worth watching see what happens from here and how Canada's printers fare.

The Unclear Future of Transactional Printing and Mailing (Premium Content)

Although things are changing, traditional mailing and printing methods are still an important part of the ecosystem. Early predictions about the rapid adoption of electronic invoices and online payments have proven to be exaggerated. This article references recent InfoTrends research to explore how transactional printing and mailing is changing over time.

Five Steps to Wide Format Growth (Premium Content)

InfoTrends enumerates the keys to success in wide-format printing, from developing a strategy, to choosing equipment, to picking partnerships, to effectively training the sales staff.

Encouraging Compliance and Use of Your Print MIS System

One of the unexpected challenges of a Print MIS system can be lack of adoption, along with the lingering dependency of third party tools. These two factors take away from the data integrity of the system itself. Ease of use is the sure-fire way to build compliance, and will also remove the reliance on external tools.

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