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Industry Insight

Trade Printers, Including Smaller Firms, Hold Steady

The Print Services &

By Patrick Henry
Published: May 13, 2009

The Print Services & Distribution Association (PSDA) defines “trade printers” as companies that manufacture or produce business printing and related products and services to be sold to print distributors for resale to end-users. The definition includes printers that print for other printers and for brokers, offering trade protection. The May issue of its magazine, Print Solutions, presents an annual “Top 100” survey of the leading performers in this segment. We were pleased to see that the breakdown by sales per employee included two small firms among the 10 most productive trade printers: Megaform Computer Products Inc. (Vandalia, OH), at #4 with $369,645 in sales for each of its five employees; and Preferred Group (South Windsor, CT), which was #7 with $309,113 in sales for each of 8 employees. The Print Solutions “Top 100 Trade Printers” list for 2008 actually comprises 144 companies, and most of them (about 70%) employ fewer than 100 people. The list includes 24 firms with rosters of 20 or fewer. Of the overall total, 13 companies have $2 million or less in sales. Print Solutions managing editor Rebecca Trela, who co-wrote an article introducing the list, says that trade printers of all sizes have learned to become high-efficiency performers by implementing Six Sigma methodology or other solutions for quality management. The article reports that trade printers have held steady in the recession, although more of them were experiencing negative or flat growth. The group’s average growth was just 3.63% vs. last year’s 6%. As for predictions, “In the coming year, more companies will go out of business, and others will start edging into other industries,” the article states. “Printing companies who successfully weather the greatest recession in a generation, however, will do so with innovative strategies.”

Patrick Henry, Executive Editor for WhatTheyThink.com is also the director of Liberty or Death Communications, a consultancy specializing in research, education, promotional, and editorial support services for the printing and publishing industries.

Patrick Henry is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us here.

Please offer your feedback to Patrick. He can be reached at patrick.henry@whattheythink.com.



By MichaelJ on May 14, 2009

Great piece of information. It supports the idea that if printers focus on being better printers, instead of following the latest buzz du jour, they seem to do as fine as can be expected in this economy.


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