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.
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The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) has done a nice job of consumer outreach with PaperRecycles.org, a new web site that aims at better educating the public about recovering paper and paper-based packaging for recycling.
We can’t improve upon a recent press release from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) about the creation of the world’s largest ball of paper—a stunt with an important point to make about recycling for packaging.
In the midst of the grief and the loathing that last week’s terrorist attacks in France stirred in all of us, there was one small scrap of comfort that touched close to home: the fact that no innocent people were killed at the print shop where the Charlie Hebdo gunmen made their final stand.
The end of the year always brings a flurry of state-of-the-market reports from research organizations and commentators tracking the global packaging industry. Here are pulls from some of the year-end pronouncements for 2014 that we gathered last month. They tell us that despite the unpredictability that always has to be factored into forecasts like these, 2015 is shaping up to be a promising year for the world’s packaging printers and converters.
There's encouraging news for producers of corrugated and paper boxes in a newly released research report which forecasts that demand for these products will increase 2.6% per year to $39.4 billion in 2018.
Heidelberg's profile as an equipment manufacturer is not the same as it once was, but its interest in label and packaging production is as keen as ever. This report comes from a high-level briefing that WhatTheyThink received on the company's current ambitions in the L&P equipment market.
This summer, members of FINAT, the international trade association for self-adhesive labeling and related industries, met in Monte Carlo for an annual congress around the general theme of "The Battle for Shelf Appeal." What emerged were an updated redefinition of labeling and a frank reassessment of the role that labels play in a greatly altered selling environment for packaged goods of all kinds.
Did you know—well, heck, how could anybody know?—that some people are willing to injure themselves if that's what it will take to force the last drop of product out of a container? Or that consumers would rather go to the dentist than see product they've purchased go to waste in packages they can't empty completely?
Continuous reinvestment and continuous reinvention sum up the strategic thinking at DWS Printing Associates, a Long Island label printing firm with deep roots in the past and a progressive view of the future.
What lends itself more readily to creative competition than a well designed package? The packaging industry is full of contests that showcase the high degree of graphic innovation that can be found in packages of all types and materials. Here is a short list of some of the competitions that celebrated the art of packaging design in 2014.
Can it be mid-November already, with preparations for the year-end holidays getting into full swing? Just ask International Paper. The Wall Street Journal recently quoted IP’s chief executive Mark S. Sutton as saying that box orders for the online retail segment have been up 15% year-over-year in 2014 and could continue rising, depending on demand. The story reports that the surge in demand for holiday packaging from both online and traditional retailers is helping to improve the performance of IP’s industrial packaging unit, which provides cardboard boxes, specialty packaging, retail displays, and paper bags.
Filtering what we know from what we think we know about label and packaging market trends is the objective of “Emerging Technologies for Packaging Innovation,” a newly published report from GrCI Cal Poly and Packaging World.
Sometimes, it’s good to step back from the speeds, feeds, and tech specs to reflect on the fact that packages and labels can be, well, downright beautiful. Eye-beguiling examples of the aesthetic gems that high-end production makes possible are all over the Internet.
Messe Düsseldorf, the organizer of the drupa trade fair, recently published a “drupa Global Insights Report” on the impact of the Internet on print. It’s based on responses to a survey from more than 1,000 senior decision-makers in the printing industry, including 240 who furnished personal examples of the impact in their own companies.
The productive, colorful, versatile, and cost efficient digital systems for labels and packaging on display at Graph Expo 2014 will come to be seen as inevitable investments for every printing company that is serious about making it in the label and packaging business.
Among printing systems for the quick, attractive, and cost efficient production of labels and packaging, none do it better than or nearly as often as offset and flexographic presses. Conventional label and packaging production was well represented at Graph Expo/CPP 2014.
With a manufacturing footprint that spans more than 50 plants on three continents, Multi Packaging Solutions (MPS) stands at the crossroads of nearly every major market and technological trend in packaging production. In this interview, MPS’s Erin Willigan talks about what it takes for a diversified packaging company to remain a leader on a global scale.
Co-located with Graph Expo, the CPP Expo for packaging specialists does full justice to the term “show within a show” by offering a rich mix of exhibits, educational sessions, and technology investment opportunities.
Mark Geeves, Director of Sales and Marketing for Color Logic, talks to Pat Henry about why metallic effects are important in brand packaging. Mark also discusses the ways in which Color Logic makes metallic effects more productive and easier to implement.
“Virtuous and healthy: those are the attributes of tomorrow’s packaging.” That proposition keynotes Packaging trends / The future of manufacturing, a white paper addressing the ethical as well as the technical mandates that packaging manufacturers must uphold in changing consumer cultures.
Rob Jennings, Account Executive at Global Vision, talks to Pat Henry about how their inspection systems help to keep packaging print accurate across multiple industries. They also discuss their new Proofware cloud-based brand packaging inspection suite.
David Luke, President of GCSF, and Pat Henry talk about the history of the organization and where things are today with their vision of consolidating scholarships through all-volunteer work without overhead costs.
Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies need to plan for a “1-5-10” market in the United States during the next five years, in which digital’s current 1 percent penetration will likely expand to 5 percent and could accelerate to as much as 10 percent in short order. The source is a new report, The Digital Future: A Game Plan for Consumer Packaged Goods, prepared for the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Google, and Information Resources, Inc. (IRI).
Corrugated board meets a wide range of consumer and non-consumer packaging requirements. Customers who appreciate the full range of functional and creative possibilities with corrugated board are turning to Axis Corrugated Container for help in migrating their packages to the substrate.
Brad Leonard, Global Business Development - Cape at Esko, gets us up to speed on the Cape unit and gives Pat Henry a beginner's course on "palletization" and how Cape/Esko are able to help optimize the variables that go into it.
At the recent PRIMEX East leadership conference by IDEAlliance, Quad/Graphics Chairman, President and CEO Joel Quadracci gave a keynote presentation in which he reviewed the state of the industry, discussed the impact of new technologies, and commented on Quad’s rise to the number two position among all U.S. printing firms.
If looks were everything, consumers would be over the moon about their packaging. According to packaging solutions provider MeadWestvaco, appearance is the one aspect of packages that consumers rate higher in performance than they do in importance. It's what prompts two-thirds of them to buy products off the shelf without knowing anything about them or doing any research into them.
Lofton Label targets its vertical markets with care and serves its customers with scrupulous attention to detail. In this company profile, CEO Mike Lane talks about how he developed the objectives and implemented the strategy that turned the business around.
In one way or another, making packages better vehicles for brand communication underlay most of the presentations at EskoWorld 2014, a user conference that drew more than 700 people to Orlando. Esko also used the occasion to launch Suite 14, a software collection that aims to provide a common interface for all participants in the package creation workflow.
Last month, being in touch with the latest developments in wide-format inkjet printing for graphic arts and industrial applications meant being at FESPA Digital, a European trade expo billing itself as the “largest focused digital print exhibition worldwide this year.”
Eager to promote the outcomes of its integration with Océ, Canon is making a concerted marketing effort to acquaint printers worldwide with the merged product lines and ongoing progress in R&D. Lately, Canon has been concentrating the effort in Europe, where it recently made a series of major announcements about new digital printing systems.
IDEAlliance and TAGA are closest things that the industry has to “brain trusts”: trade associations that have taken upon themselves the daunting task of curating the industry’s practical intellectual capital.
If all politics is local, the same is true of the work done by the printing industry’s regional trade associations. The executive directors of three PIA regional affiliates discuss how they bring grass-roots insight to the universal challenges of trade association management.
Because they mirror the industry they serve, the printing industry’s two principal trade associations are seeing a picture they may sometimes have trouble recognizing. But, the groups say they have adapted to circumstances, learned from mistakes, and committed themselves to strategies for stability.
Kodak’s renewed self-confidence as a B2B company focused on imaging for business was on full display as the company grandly relisted its common stock at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on January 8.
Pinpointing the characteristics that make some printing companies more economically attractive than others is the short version of the mission of New Direction Partners (NDP), a consultancy specializing in mergers and acquisitions in the graphic communications industry. Some of these earmarks are classic indicators of the health of a business: cash flow, accounts receivable, EBITDA, and so on. Others, however, stem from emerging trends that NDP monitors as M&A influencers for the industry as a whole.
When Walter Payne entered the printing business from another career, he knew he’d want to do more than printing. Today, his company is so multi-functional that Kodak is using part of the plant as a demo facility for some of its most advanced digital production technologies.
Dainippon Screen wants to be a major part of the conversation about the rise of inkjet and the fall of old assumptions about print production. But, as inkjet comes to the fore, the conversation could get uncomfortably blunt for some.
The centerpiece of digital production at AGS Print & Marketing Communications is an inkjet web press with a combination of capabilities that the president of the company calls “marketing’s Holy Grail” for print.
On Kodak’s first full day in business after emerging from bankruptcy, Antonio Perez, its chairman and CEO, detailed the company’s plans to rebuild its stature as a supplier of technology solutions in a narrower cross-section of markets than it once served.
Everyone with a printing company to sell dreams of making a deal with full payment in cash at closing. That’s an achievable outcome for some sellers, but not for others. Two case studies provide a helpful dose of realism.
The profitability gap between the best-performing and the weakest printing firms is wider than ever. It reflects the difference between the “haves”—firms with effective strategies for competitive differentiation—and the “have nots,” which lack them.
Although it may be difficult for traditionalists to imagine, “printing” can be done in more dimensions than two. The Inside Printing 3D Conference and Expo made clear why this high-touch manufacturing process is gaining increased attention both as an emerging technology and as an investment opportunity.
In one of his first official acts since his election as pontiff, Pope Francis has unveiled a radically new strategy for proselytizing to the world: he’ll carry on the work of St. Peter through an international network of printing companies he intends the Church to acquire.
Although the ink is barely dry on the deal that has made Impika a unit of Xerox, the acquirer believes that bringing its target into the fold will give it the major-player status in inkjet that it has been seeking.
Regional printing trade shows mostly are things of the past - vendors can’t justify the expense of exhibiting at these local affairs, and printers can’t find the time to attend them. All of the above may be true, but in spite of that, members of the industry still find value in the knowledge-sharing camaraderie that only face-to-face encounters can provide.
If silence is golden in most of the affairs of life, in M&A transactions, it’s pure platinum. Nothing assures a better outcome for a deal—or yields a worse one if it’s violated—than maintaining a policy of tight information control while negotiations are under way.
Rumors were circulating earlier this week about the reported closure of Ferrostaal Equipment Solutions North America Inc., but the facts don’t bear them out. WhatTheyThink has learned that the Houston, TX based print equipment and services provider remains in operation, albeit with a new president, a smaller staff, and a reduced portfolio.
Sometimes, sheer embarrassment can kill a merger—the shock of suddenly having to account for issues that ought to have been dealt with earlier in the process. Privately held printing companies can be prone to the kinds of errors that embarrass sellers and thwart M&As.
Many in the industry are still speculating about where B2-format digital presses fit into the scope of commercial print production. Sandy Alexander is weighing the merits of B2 digital printing for itself by beta-testing one of the most advanced examples of the technology.
No trade show has taken more lumps lately than Ipex, the quadrennial print and graphic media expo in the UK. But its owner has declared that when Ipex opens for a six-day run in London on March 24, 2014, it will be a new show with a sharper focus and greater value for exhibitors and attendees alike.
Don’t look for exhibits by Eastman Kodak Co. at Print 13 in Chicago this year, at IPEX 14 in the U.K next year, or at most other graphic communications trade shows after that. In a statement published last Friday, the company announced it would significantly reduce its participation in conventional trade shows and turn to other means of engaging with its customers.
WhatTheyThink recently visited two German printing houses that provide an aspirational lesson for printers everywhere who want to know how far investments in production technologies can take growth-minded companies.
Still #1 in sheetfed, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG nevertheless is adjusting to a new place in an industry over which it used to loom larger. Its leaders outlined the company’s go-forward strategy in a year-end media briefing that hinted at significant change to come.
In real estate, they say, it’s all about location, location, location. In business consulting, the triple crown is perspective, perspective, perspective. The most recent addition to the consulting team at New Direction Partners brings a long and multi-angled view of the printing industry to his new role as an architect of mergers and acquisitions within it.
As it has at previous stages of its effort to put its troubles behind it, Kodak has reached out to the trade media with another update on the progress it claims to be making toward orderly emergence from bankruptcy. We spoke recently with Chris Payne, Kodak’s vice president - marketing, business to business, about the latest developments and about Kodak’s long-term plan to renew itself as a provider of graphic production technologies.
No small part of the $50 billion economic loss being attributed to storm Sandy will come from business interruptions suffered by printing firms throughout the tristate metro region. Wherever the damage was worst, the toll taken on these highly vulnerable manufacturing operations was highest. Many remain out of commission, their electrical power gone, their communications severed, their work piling up, and their employees stranded at home with gas gauges pointing at empty.
AlphaGraphics franchise owners came en masse to Graph Expo 2012, where Art Coley, the president of the network, briefed WhatTheyThink on steps taken to revitalize the business centers and the company as whole.
At Graph Expo, both presented status reports: Kodak, on continuing to manage its emergence from bankruptcy; Xerox, on maintaining its commitment to graphics as the company shifts increasingly towards services.
Tom Parrot, President of Excell Color Graphics talks to Pat Henry about the origins of the company that started as a prepress shop, the evolution of the business, and the value in coming to Graph Expo.
Patrick Henry talks with Paul Mongoven, President of TPM Graphics, about their business and why they are thriving during tough times for the industry. Paul also talks about the importance of attending Graph Expo and what he gets from it.
Patrick Henry speaks with Heidelberg Senior Vice President Uli Koehler about their service organization, how they use it to support their customers, as well as details on how the market changes have impacted service operations.
Pat Henry interviews HP's Worldwide Marketing & Strategy VP for Graphic Solutions Business Sumeer Chandra, who talks about the reorganization of the graphics business and the strategy moving forward. Sumeer also gives a good overview of the Atlanta Experience Center.
Given present trends, the industry could be dominated by a relative handful of firms in a few years. Some companies can grow profitably into this new landscape. Others can make a safe exit before it fully unfolds. Each outcome demands a strategy-now.
A pent-up eagerness for deals makes it all the more important for those venturing back into the M&A marketplace as sellers to be clear about why they should sell—and why buyers should want to acquire them.
It may be possible to run a printing company without a formal plan, but buying or selling a printing company will be very difficult to bring off successfully without the help of a written roadmap. An acquisition plan is a vital navigation aid that guides the process and certifies the desirability of the deal.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.