Commentary & Analysis
“Then the Bottom Just Dropped Out”: A Glimpse at a Printer’s Ordeal
This unusual letter from a printer speaks volumes about what happened to the industry as a whole during the Great Recession.
Published: June 25, 2013
By Joe Cavey
Editor’s note: WhatTheyThink is publishing this unusual letter because it says so much about what the industry as a whole has gone through over the last five years. We will follow up with the writer after the planned relocation of his company to develop a detailed report on his quest to reestablish the business. In the meantime, your comments are welcome.
I was alone as usual, waiting for my wife to fall asleep so she wouldn’t again see the concern in my eyes. I was sitting outside, kind of a chilly night, another cigarette, another cup of coffee, and another night of pacing with apprehension—when I came across the article, ”M&A Mythbusting: Just How Good an Investment Is a General Commercial Printing Business?”
I must admit that reading the article chipped away a little of the apprehension and anxiety I’ve had over my life’s chosen career. Actually, I don’t see it as a career—I see it as a blessing, a “gift,” as I often hear myself saying as I speak to others. I believe that as entrepreneurs we have something special inside, something that is handed out to only a few. I’ve never actually seen myself as a businessman per se. I actually believed I was blessed, able to do something I love every day and actually get paid for doing it: the American dream come true.
We are in our 30th year. I started in the basement of my home after operating presses for what turned out later to be my competition. All was going extremely well those first 20 years, with 20% increases in revenue every year ending at $9.5 million in sales in 2008. Then the bottom just dropped out, along with my spirit and self-respect. Gone was that special gift that I truly believed was bequeathed to me…a fiery, remarkable passion.
I find myself in such disarray, in such unfamiliar territory and so much alone. The article did give me some hope, hope that if someone out there still thinks we are worth something…then we must be?
I am moving my company to a new location on July 1. Why? Because I believe that my employees—the people who have stayed the course through the pay cuts, the tears, and the fears—deserve a fresh start in a newer, downsized location.
I will pour the last of my money, my heart, soul, and everything I am into this move. Perhaps it will be my last “hurrah” that only the Almighty knows for sure.
The article, its declaration, has somehow given me another breath. I’ll take it.
I want to thank you for your words.
Joe Cavey, President
RPM Solutions Group