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.
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.
With its microprocessors, relays, sensors, and software, a modern printing press is a marvel at squeezing time and cost out of production runs. But, one maker of press cleaning accessories contends that these complex systems can still get a big helping hand in a key press function from a simple but strategically placed strip of durable plastic.
The graphic communications industry continues to struggle with declining sales, squeezed profit margins, restricted access to capital, and business pressures of every imaginable kind. But, none of that has dampened the enthusiasm of those who support the Prism Awards, a high-profile achievement recognition program that rings with optimism every year under the auspices of New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS).
This time, instead of a long-form review of product announcements at drupa 2012, here are the highlights in a format that many of us are getting accustomed to: Tweetable bursts of 140 characters or less.
“We need to be in the outcome business, not the output business,” said a printing executive at drupa. “They trust you,” said a senior spokesman for a vendor about the underlying strength of printer-customer relationships. Both presentations were rich in insights about the state of print markets and the prospects that printers will discover in them.
Inking the merger of two printing companies is the formality that signals the beginning of the hard part: implementation. Methodical planning and careful communication can go a long way toward smoothing the transition.
As would be expected during an event of this kind, most of the media briefings at drupa were focused on product announcements and technology introductions. From time to time, though, speakers put the salesmanship aside and offered broader commentary on industry trends and print market conditions.
It's better to label drupa 2012 “the _______ drupa” with the prefix of your choice, so try dipping into the Xerox “drupa visualizer.” This live infographic lets Xerox track and share the top trends being discussed in relation to drupa across the Twitterverse.
What were the principal take-aways from drupa 2012? What was new and exciting in the exhibit halls? Where is the industry headed? We’re sifting our notebooks for the answers. In the meantime, here are some broad observations about the character and “feel” of the show.
Regular readers of WhatTheyThink need no reminder of who Andy Tribute is or of how much value he has added to the WhatTheyThink editorial space. Admirers of his writing probably will not be surprised to learn that his peers hold him in as much personal affection as they do in professional esteem.
Much of the activity at KBA’s stand in Hall 16 at drupa will center upon packaging, an application in which the company has always claimed a competitive edge. At drupa, KBA will reassert the claim with systems it describes as engineered to meet today’s highest-priority requirements in packaging production.
When Xerox exhibits at drupa, its presence won’t be limited to stand A62 in hall 8b. Throughout the show, the company intends to maintain an equally high profile in the realm of social media as it attempts to viralize not just its own drupa experience but the pulse and the intelligence of the event as a whole.
Every four years, the international printing community gathers at drupa and asks itself a question: How are we doing? The Koenig & Bauer Group (KBA) believes that if every vendor’s experience over the last few years had been as positive as its own, the collective answer would have to be: Never better.
Ever since he founded Geographics in 1976, Norvin Hagan hasn’t tried to purchase another company—until now. Read why he’s ready to complement organic growth with the kind that comes from a well planned and executed acquisition.
By exhibiting as a group at drupa 2012, the members of the PrintCity Alliance hope to present a continuum of solutions that visitors will find well adapted to the new realities of the print marketplace. Previews of some of their show offerings are here.
At drupa 2012, the PrintCity Alliance will emphasize and promote the future of print from its usual location on the Messe Düsseldorf fairgrounds. Last week, some of its members gave a preview of what awaits visitors to Hall 6.
There’s a notable gap between consumers’ understanding of QR codes and their willingness to use them. A company called SpyderLynk has a solution aimed at helping image-based mobile marketing to fulfill the potential that has eluded QR codes.
Kodak will continue to advance its graphic communications business as it tries to emerge from bankruptcy, treating its digital printing, plate, and workflow operations as keys to survival and future success.
Technical innovation and customer care are the main ingredients in the recipe for growth at Cathedral Corporation, which now aims to accelerate its expansion with the well-planned acquisition of another printing firm. President and CEO Marianne Gaige describes her objectives in this interview.
Even experienced fishermen know that there are times when they shouldn’t cast a fly without the help of a fishing guide. A guide knows where the best fishing holes are and how to land the prize fish in them. It’s much the same with mergers and acquisitions in the printing industry. The best catches are made when the principals rely on the skills of deal-savvy M&A advisors.
With each vowing that customers won’t be harmed as a result of their estrangement, Kodak and Collins Ink Corporation have come to the abrupt end of a 10-year deal whereby the latter supplied the former with inkjet inks for Versamark digital presses.
As everyone knows, the recession has made business financing hard to come by. In this two-part “Cup O Joe,” lenders to the printing industry report that loan products are available and discuss how printers can obtain them.
This week, Amazon unveiled four aggressively priced content delivery devices: one, a multimedia tablet aimed squarely at Apple's market-dominating iPad; the other three, the latest iterations of Amazon's popular Kindle e-reader.
Whatever may be happening to the demand for print, Graph Expo 2011 made one thing abundantly clear: never before have printers had as many options as they now possess for adding beauty, charisma, and value to a piece of paper.
Whatever may be happening to the demand for print, Graph Expo 2011 made one thing abundantly clear: never before have printers had as many options as they now possess for adding beauty, charisma, and value to a piece of paper.
"Convergence" in the graphic communications industry can mean many things, but at Graph Expo, it describes what happens when vendors pool their R&D resources to create production solutions more formidable than anything they could have devised by themselves.
As everyone knows, the recession has made business financing hard to come by. In this two-part "Cup O Joe," lenders to the printing industry report that loan products are available and discuss how printers can obtain them.
Kodak's NexPress SX digital color production platform is a reminder that while inkjet systems have tended to snare most of the attention from the graphic arts trade media of late, there’s still plenty of technical innovation to write about on the toner-based side as well.
The new Espresso Book Machine (EBM) at McNally Jackson Books is an experiment in non-traditional publishing that just might represent the start of a new paradigm for bringing books to market, one independent bookseller and one print-on-demand title at a time.
Have you heard about Fiverr, “The place for people to share things they’re willing to do for $5”? If you’ve ever wondered what the five-dollar phrase “digital disintermediation” really means, Fiverr is a cyber bazaar full of answers.
Some M&A transactions in the printing industry fall apart before they reach the signing stage. Other deals, however, come undone after the ink is dry, and often for reasons that should have been obvious all along. New Direction Partners looks at how to stay out of the latter trap.
The recent Independence Day holiday weekend passed largely without notice of the 125th anniversary of the introduction of the Linotype Type Casting Machine on July 3, 1886. But awareness of this amazing device could rise with the upcoming release of Linotype: the Film.
On June 30, Mercury Print Productions cut the red ribbon on a Kodak PROSPER 5000XL digital color inkjet press that had already printed in excess of 20 million impressions and was said to be well on its way to producing many millions more.
Twenty-nine students have received a total of $40,000 in grants from the Graphic Communications Scholarship Award and Career Advancement Foundation, an organization that has disbursed nearly $300,000 for graphics education since 2002.
The New York University (NYU) Prism Award Luncheon celebrated its 25th anniversary today by conferring the honor for which it is named upon Thomas J. Quinlan III, president and CEO of R.R. Donnelley and Sons Company. Also honored was Joseph P. Truncale, president and CEO of the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL), who was named the recipient of the 2011 Alumni Award.
M&A transactions sometimes fall through. Poor judgment, misinformation, adverse business developments, and personal antagonisms can drive principals apart despite the mutual advantages of deals that should bring them together. This two-part article examines how and why they fail.
“My middle name is Franklin, so I had to become a printer.” And so Dave Moody did, honoring a family heritage and perpetuating the traditional arts of printing on vintage but very busy letterpress equipment.
Canon brought its “Success with Print” educational series to New York City on June 7. The session was one stop on a 15-city tour aimed at helping printers locate new growth and profitability in a market where these opportunities are becoming increasingly hard to find.
On June 2 in New York City, Bob Sacks, a.k.a. “BoSacks,” became the 114th recipient of the Gamma Gold Key Award. Also honored for exceptional support of education were Annette Wolf Bensen and Heidelberg USA.
Supporters of New York City’s historic Bowne & Co. Stationers are rallying to save it, but against what appear to be very long odds. Its parent organization has closed the storefront at 211 Water Street, stunning fans of the printing office and its extensive collections of antique types, type specimen books, and equipment.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to brief a group of visiting Chinese publishers and printers on the state of the industry as experienced by their counterparts in the U.S. Our discussion highlighted the similarities that link China’s and America’s publishing sectors amidst profound market shifts in both countries. It also illuminated a few notable differences that distinguish our industry’s attitude toward change from theirs.
“Heavy metal” is the printing industry’s affectionate term for presses. It also denotes the material that accounts for 95% of what a conventional printing machine is made of. Now, a sculptor has unconventionally added bamboo, cork, oak, and rope to the equation—and the result serves equally well as an art object and as a functioning example of the thing it represents.
It was to have been a new deal for exhibitors at Graph Expo, Print, and scores of other trade shows at Chicago’s McCormick Place: a set of legislative reforms aimed at making it easier and less expensive to produce events at the lakeside expo and convention center. But, a recent ruling by a federal judge has overturned some of those changes and may keep them from being retained.
We came across this post about printing plant tours while researching something else. The writer is a consultant who sells branding, marketing, and design services, and he’s clearly somebody who’s spent a lot of time inside printing plants.
Students in the department of Advertising Design and Graphic Arts (ADGA) at New York City College of Technology (NYCCT) saw high-end digital printing in action on a recent field trip to Duggal Visual Solutions in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
A successful M&A transaction is the sum of many carefully fashioned parts. This month, New Direction Partners and Margolis Becker delve into the details with comments on how deals can be influenced by client concentration; plant ownership; non-compete agreements with salespeople; acquired management teams; post-acquisition price increases; and personally guaranteed debt.
Five printers representing nearly half the installed base of KBA Rapida 205s in the U.S. say that the performance of this 59.5" x 81" press is as impressive as sheet size. They speak assuredly of the big improvements that the industry’s biggest press has made, or is fully expected to make, to the foundations of their businesses.
Today, thanks to digital production technologies, anyone can publish a book, and the same goes for magazines. How mainstream book and magazine publishers are confronting new business models in which nearly anything (and anyone) goes was a thread running through many of the presentations at this week’s Publishing Business Conference & Expo in New York City.
The smallest format it can print is a bigger piece of paper than most sheetfed plants have ever handled. It’s hard to avoid superlatives when describing KBA’s 59.5" x 81" Rapida 205, the world’s largest sheetfed offset press—especially when five printers representing nearly half of its installed base in the U.S. say that its performance is every bit as impressive as its sheet size.
Delivering worthy content to receptive audiences remains a cornerstone concept in the publishing industry, but it’s almost the only certainty left. Keynote speakers at this week’s Publishing Business Conference & Expo in New York City tried to identify additional strategies for staying relevant, compelling, and profitable in a game where digital alternatives to the older models write new rules every day.
In typically methodical fashion, Heidelberg has embraced the social media. Through these channels, grouped for convenient access here, the graphic equipment manufacturer hopes to enrich its dialogue with the marketplace by getting a better handle on what Heidelberg customers are saying to each other about its products and services.
Congratulations to the winners, and a tip of the hat to their host. Two weeks ago, Heidelberg turned its Kennesaw, GA, Technology Center into a venue for a statewide competition in SkillsUSA’s search for the nation’s rising young stars in graphic communications and advertising design.
"What's my company worth to a buyer?" Easy to ask, but not so easy to answer correctly. This month, New Direction Partners and Margolis Becker explain the multiple-of-EBITDA formula that's used to determine pricing in many conventional acquisitions. They also discuss asset-based valuation for tuck-ins and note the commission structures that sellers can expect to receive in M&As of this type.
There’s not much crossover between the parallel universes of print and the social media, but Benjamin Lotan is out to change that—once Facebook poster at a time. He’s the creator and the proprietor of The Social Printshop, an online service that lets habitués of Facebook and other social networking sites celebrate their relationships in hard-copy form.
If a sturdily-built iron letterpress is carefully maintained and properly operated, shouldn’t it last forever? Well, forever is a long time. But so is five decades, the span of years across which Florida printer Buddy West has operated the same Original Heidelberg letterpress at Panama City Publishing Co. in that town's St. Andrews district.
The partners at New Direction Partners join financial management firm Margolis Becker for the monthly Cup O Joe, a conference call with printers on a selected topic. With the help of NDP partners Peter Schaefer and Jim Russell, Cup O Joe tackled the topic “Acquiring A Company from an Owner’s Perspective.” Some excerpts are presented here.
Nobody ever called QR codes pretty to look at. But then, nobody has taken QR codes to heart in quite the same way as Chunghwa Post, the postal system of the Republic of China (Taiwan). For Valentine’s Day, the agency has turned the stark black-and-white of these print-leveraging symbols into a palette of pastels with an underlying message of love—a sentiment that’s welcome in the mailbox on any day of the year.
“In our DNA” is a bit of corporate-speak that we’re all probably tired of hearing, but every now and then, it really does express the depth of a company’s commitment to a principle or a cause that it takes seriously. Heidelberg, for one, would be fully entitled to use the phrase to describe its support for industry education—just ask the Graphic Communication Institute (GrCI) at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly).
Last year Congress deliberated a bill that would have significantly increased penalties for workplace safety violations uncovered by OSHA. To the relief of business advocacy groups, the bill didn’t become law, but this doesn’t mean that the agency hasn’t been stepping up its efforts against unsafe workplaces in other ways.
The U.S. printing industry has been without commercially produced, regionalized trade directories since the Graphic Arts Blue Books ceased publication in print last year. But, printers gazing wistfully at the empty space on the shelf where the old Blue Books used to go should dust off that space and keep it open—a new set of hard-copy purchasing guides is on its way from north of the border.
As it stages its re-entry into the digital print equipment market, Heidelberg is out to make high-end digital presses from other suppliers “irrelevant.” That, at least, is the word used and the conclusion reached by the UK trade publication PrintWeek in a recent report on Heidelberg’s emerging digital strategy.
Knowing when to do the deal is probably the trickiest judgment call in any merger of printing companies. Correct timing is a must for both parties, but choosing the right moment to step forward into the M&A marketplace rests with the seller. It’s a decision that calls for introspective as well as strategic thinking.
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.