On February 1, Ford Bowers took the reins as president and CEO of SGIA, succeeding Michael Robertson after nearly 33 years of service. In Part 1 of this two-part interview, we talk with Ford Bowers about his history with Miller Zell, his plans for SGIA, the role of the trade association in today’s landscape.
Mercury Print Productions of Rochester NY reports continued growth, increased use of digital print technologies, and a new facility that consolidates 3 previous ones. CEO John Place talks about current business and future strategies in this company spotlight.
Does “privacy” have meaning any more? People are sometimes willing to trade personal information for rewards—even when they know they are going to regret it. There are implications for print in the conflict.
Just like large enterprises, SMBs want to look credible and professional as they spread the word about their businesses. This market presents tremendous opportunities for print service providers with the right go-to-market strategy. This article cites recent InfoTrends research to explore how service providers can aggregate volume with a focus on specific horizontal and vertical SMB markets.
Part of print's good 2015 was how well it did compared to other industries. Of 21 major manufacturing industries, nine had positive years in current dollars, with commercial printing as sixth highest. Precipitous decreases in commodities prices caused manufacturing in metals and energy to have such a bad year that the entire manufacturing sector declined -4.3%. For the year, current dollar GDP growth was +2.9%. For the first time in twenty years, commercial printing growth exceeded GDP.
This product spotlight focuses on three areas that we see as the most powerful and differentiating features of Pace; PaceStation, Pace Customization Modules, and Pace Item Templates. The unifying concept with all three of these features is that they allow a printer to “configure” Pace to work for their unique business requirements.
The impact of a negative economic outlook on M&A activity will be to turn the current sellers’ market into a buyers’ market and result in decreased valuations. The situation will cause most owners who might have been considering a sale transaction in the near future to pause and re-examine their strategies.
The unemployment improved to a level not seen since the recession began, but it doesn't feel that good. Have the statisticians been running their thermometers under running water until it gets to the number they want? Printing shipments beat GDP for the year for the first time since 1995. Where are the cheers? And then there's a beef with image campaigns. Yeah, it's Dr. Joe time again.
Since December 2007, the CPI is up by +12.6%. How have the PPI for commercial printing, ink, and paper changed? Commercial printing prices are lower, -0.8%. This means that a commercial printing business has to increase its productivity and profitability to reward its owners and employees to make up for the loss of purchasing power they have in their paychecks.
Major retailers like Lands’ End and J.C. Penney are bringing back their printed catalogs because they recognize the critical role that these catalogs play in driving business. This article cites recent InfoTrends research to highlight how catalogs remain an important marketing tool for reaching today’s consumers.
Business meetings can be horribly ineffective, yet with a set of small hacks you can unleash the productivity and innovation your company desperately needs. Here’s the good news, all you need is some Post-It Notes and a phone.
Yesterday, IDEAlliance and Epicomm announced a proposed merger that, pending member approval, will combine the two organizations under the 50-year-old brand IDEAlliance. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with IDEAlliance’s David Steinhardt and Epicomm’s Ken Garner to get the inside story.
New OSHA workplace safety regulations and changes in reporting requirements and on-site inspections are on the horizon. Here’s what companies in the specialty graphics industry need to know to ensure they are compliant.
Today’s market holds a tremendous opportunity for direct mail printing. How can today’s service providers better meet marketers’ evolving needs, and what are the essential ingredients for success? This article explores three key areas of focus—data-driven personalization, multi-channel communication, and an agency approach.
The chart shows the percentage of US commercial printing establishments of all sizes and their responses to the question about the cloud-based services they use today. The question did not ask them their frequency or intensity of use, just whether or not they use it today. Some of the “non-users” may not even be aware that they are using cloud services, since some services run transparently in the background, such as backup services like Carbonite and others. Others may not be aware that they are using a VOIP phone system. Some cloud services such as Dropbox allow customers to brand their service so it looks like a company file sharing site. Generally, larger printers are using more cloud services than others, but the disparity is narrow.
As technology continues to change at a rapid rate, collaboration needs to extend into the functional areas of your business. Don’t stop at creating a peer group for print owners, encourage your accounting lead to get into a peer group, each functional area should have multiple sources of knowledge sharing.
In studying the Propago product, a consistent theme reverberated throughout the product; this product was built based on real-time feedback from live users in a large scale deployment. The approach to solving the business challenges of web-to-print are rooted in data-driven decisions rather than theoretical solutions to ill-defined challenges. Propago came out of a large commercial printing organization that consisted of twenty-five companies across the nation.
Gearing up for drupa yet? At WhatTheyThink, we are. In fact, our drupa page is already up, so be sure to follow the news as the show gets closer! One of the areas worth investigating when you go to drupa is the developing area of advanced materials, whether it is resins for 3D printing, conductive inks, or advanced inkjet ink formulas.
As leaders in their respective fields, Guy Gecht and Steve Wynn share an exceptional ability to hold a stage and captivate an audience. Both played to a packed house as keynote speakers at EFI Connect 2016.
Despite the surging popularity of digital marketing, direct mail will continue to play an integral role in savvy businesses’ marketing initiatives. This article cites data from recent InfoTrends research to explore the role that direct mail will likely play in the marketing initiatives of the future.
Here are data from our survey at the end of 2015 where we asked respondents to identify the status of their companies in terms of consolidation. Generally, formal consolidations are executed by the largest print businesses, and small businesses close their respective shops and reopen a new business with new partners.
It’s time to stop talking about what we should become (marketing services providers) and actually take the steps that move us in that direction. Think through a go-to-market strategy for offering digital products, execute on that plan on your print business’ marketing, enable your sales team, and start diversifying your revenue streams for the digital age.
Our President, Eric Vessels, came across the Chatbooks service in Instagram and shared it with the team. Our own Frank Romano commented on it in a video last week, and today we have an interview with Chatbooks CEO Nate Quigley for a deeper look at the service and print’s value add.
While some forms of marketing are fleeting and forgotten, a postcard, brochure, or catalog can serve as a lasting reminder of a marketing message. Direct mail can compel recipients to act, attract new customers, increase customer loyalty, boost brand awareness, reactivate dormant accounts, and deliver profitable results. This article explores how businesses of all sizes are rethinking their strategies and incorporating more direct mail in their messaging.
The latest survey of NFIB shows their index bouncing along the level of the early 2000s recession low, and down from the high prior to the December 2007 recession. Passing that level on the way up would have indicated a completed recovery of this sector but it just couldn't make it that far and break through. Using this indicator that means that small business did not emerge from the recession yet. Big business and the stock markets dominate the headlines, but small business remains the front line of the economy, and its difficulties are often hidden from view as being un-newsworthy. Its breakout above the bottom of the early 2000s recession took some time, and the recent trend in the chart looks like it's getting ready to fall below that again. It dipped below that level briefly a few months ago and climbed back out. Will it climb out again? It's worth watching.
In Print MIS implementations, your business data entered into the Print MIS database structure creates the data model of your business. Your attention to detail at this critical juncture of Print MIS implementations can set you up for success.
It is times like these that make one yearn for one-armed economists. What should we believe? The crazy gyrations of the stock market? The collapse of commodity prices? Or what might be a surge in employment? No wonder Dr. Joe's lost his hair. He adds his comments to the economic stew.
After the U.S. executive order in early 2015 that allowed more classes of U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba without seeking prior U.S. government approval, I decided I would like to visit the island to learn more about the culture and doing business there. In my role as a journalist covering the printing, packaging and publishing industries, the goal was to visit those types of companies.
Whether improving direct customers’ experiences or the experiences of clients’ customers with better communication products, a positive customer experience delivers bottom-line results. This article provides InfoTrends’ recommendations on areas that print service providers should focus on in the year ahead as they strive to improve the customer experience.
For about a decade, many print businesses have marketed themselves as “marketing services providers” with varying degrees of success. Our recent survey showed less than half of print businesses market themselves in this or a similar manner.
Cimpress (parent company of VistaPrint) is expanding into the core of the print market; “upload-and-print”. They are buying demand generators and no doubt investing in user experiences that will enable self-service online purchasing of print for the largest segment of the print industry (manufacturing of the customer’s design/file).
In December, Cimpress, the parent company of Vistaprint, announced plans to acquire German web-to-print company WIRmachenDRUCK. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne talks to CEO Robert Keane to find out more about the company’s strategies and growth plans.
As the end of the year approaches, it becomes helpful to think about the trends that will likely impact our industry in the future. This article offers a top-level overview of three trends that are expected to impact commercial printers and in-plant printers in the coming year.
The third quarter of 2015 marked a huge divergence in the performance of the industry, according to the Department of Commerce Quarterly Financial Report. Printers with more than $25 million in assets wrote down assets amounting to nearly -15% of revenues. This sent the quarterly moving total of inflation-adjusted profits before taxes to +$1.46 billion.
Last week, we took a wide-format look back at 2015. Now let’s switch directions. What can we expect in 2016? Before we answer that, though, what is 2016 likely to hold for the printing industry in general?
We took a survey of printers and they told us they were really happy. We got data about ad agency revenues and their revenues is still heading up. A big consulting firm says digital content will be bigger than ever. The post office data tells us there's less and less of their work in our mailboxes. The world is full of contradictory trends, and Dr. Joe sorts them out.
The print medium is returning as an important marketing and sales tool. This holiday season, firms like Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue are sending more targeted and specialized catalogs. This article cites InfoTrends’ recent research to explore how catalogs are cutting through the clutter in today’s digital world.
Last week I attended Singularity University’s Executive Program in Silicon Valley. The best way to describe what happened to me after a week of hearing some of the brightest people in tech talk about the future is that they dramatically changed my perspective. Come to find out, I had a very narrow lens through which I viewed the world; they replaced it with a wide angle lens that goes beyond our planet and looks far into the future.
A company called High Quality Printing Inventions, LLC, is using a patent initially granted to Moore (now R.R. Donnelley) to file patent infringement lawsuits in the U.S. District Courts in a litigation campaign against several printing companies using common web-to-print functionality.
Saugatuck Capital bolts Plymouth Printing onto Pharmaceutic Litho & Label, Rondo-Pak adds Contemporary Graphics to US pharma printing platform, Firespring evolves into MSP, Circle Graphics corrals grand format printer Imagic, the Mittera Group continues traditional printing rollup.
Rather than face the reality that all print businesses need to evolve, many print owners default to staying “busy” running the business the way it’s been run for years. Don’t be tempted to “numb yourself” by keeping busy, the market conditions are indisputable, the past performance of your print business is not indicative of future results. We are operating in a different reality with very compelling digital alternatives to print communication.
Last week's unemployment report did it again, it was all wrapped up in a pretty package but it seemed empty when you looked inside. Contents must have settled during shipping. Speaking of content, employment in agencies and designers are up strongly compared to last year. The content creation business is doing well. Commercial printers are reconfiguring their businesses and produced an historic high in shipments per employee. Dr. Joe has the details.
Digital wide-format printing is one of the most significant growth areas in the entire print industry. InfoTrends offers some of its data on the top-growing wide-format printing applications, and takes a look at how the supply chain for equipment, supplies, and consumables is changing.
After doing a multi-year stint managing the established imaging and printing businesses for HP, Steve Nigro is back doing what he loves – running a start-up business. His current role is President, 3D Printing, at HP, Inc., with worldwide responsibility for creating and scaling HP’s 3D business.
The recovery indicators turned in a mixed performance that warrants some caution, concern but not worry, yet. Some outside economic analysts starting to raise concerns about the economy in 2016. Citibank analysts peg the chances of recession in 2016 at 65%, the first such prognostication of a major investment firm that we have seen.
For 17 consecutive months the US commercial printing industry has scored increased shipments compared to the same month of the prior year. In current dollars, the Commerce Department reported that shipments were $7.729 billion. That meant that October 2016's shipments were +$204 million compared to 2015, a +2.7% performance. For the year through October, shipments are +3.3% on a current dollar basis.
The rise of mobile marketing has been long expected, and it looks like Black Friday 2015 is key milestone: mobile was more than half of web site traffic for e-commerce sites. Black Friday “brick-and-mortar” traffic was disappointing, but retailers were aggressively pushing sales online because it reduces the risks of riot-like runs for bargains as stores open. Target Stores had so much online traffic for CyberMonday its servers could not handle the volume. It wasn't the first time that Target misforecast demand for online sales. Some of Black Friday shopping may have been “window shopping” for mobile ordering. IBM, which still has a big business in systems for retailers issued a free download report about what was learned on Black Friday. In that report is the chart we highlight this week. If you sell to retailers or to businesses that sell to retailers, the report is worth reading.
Most printers are business to business (B2B), they do business with other businesses that they have a working relationship with. Business-to-consumer (B2C) is the term used for online businesses that serve anyone who shows up on the website (not necessarily just consumers). As printers consider B2C, they need to understand what it takes to build a successful online business.
Henrik Müller-Hansen, Gelato’s Founder and CEO, had a vision for democratizing the world of printing. This article provides an overview of the Gelato Group’s offerings and explores how these solutions can make a difference in today’s mobile world.
As the production inkjet market continues to gain traction, more choices are coming to market, many of which were first shown at drupa 2012. As we approach drupa 2016, there is no doubt that a growing number of production inkjet solutions will be making their way to commercial availability. Delphax elan is one of those.
As printing companies continue to transform their businesses by offering marketing and related services, establishing direct communication with the brand owner at client or prospect companies – the person who ultimately has responsibility for driving brand initiatives – can pay big dividends. Learn more about what these new services might look like.
The US economy was reported to be stronger in the third quarter than originally thought, but much of it was a rise in inventories. If retailers were stocking up for Black Friday, that might have been a mistake based on early reports. What's happened to the relationship of commercial printing and department stores? Dr. Joe has the history of that and also previews what's coming in this week's economic data.
If you been to Comic-Con in the last five years, you have seen Las Vegas based Off the Wall Signs & Graphics’ work. Its updated fleet of grand format printers have enabled bigger projects with shorter cycle times and are the basis for the company’s growth. Learn more in this story sponsored by HP.
Five years ago, Kodak CTO Terry Taber began building a technology pipeline that he hoped would lead the company into new businesses, including a key focus area for CEO Jeff Clarke, Functional Printing. He speaks with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne about the current state of the organization from a technology perspective.
Packaging isn’t everything at Island Pro Digital, a printing company with a highly diversified product base. But, it represents some of the most interesting work that the firm fabricates for its clients.
Even the usual industry dynamics are dynamic. The latest commercial printing industry birth-death data comparing 2012 to 2011 show a rising birth rate and a declining death rate. The +1608 births and -2262 deaths in 2012 were recent lows, as was the net change of only -654 establishments.
The news story reporting that James Eby, a 25-year veteran of Wunderman, joined Tukaiz as Chief Creative Office caught my eye. Tukaiz, which recently started an in-house agency, agenz, has long been an innovator and thought leader in the industry. Now they have taken that to a whole new level with Eby leading agenz.
Allison Payment Systems was founded in 1888 by Noah Allison, who is credited with the invention of the coupon payment book. The focal point for Allison Payment Systems is personalized customer communications through electronic delivery and first class mail … and lots of it.
The choice of a digital front end (DFE) is perhaps one of the most overlooked decisions in the purchasing process. In some cases, there is only one choice. But for a wide range of toner-based digital presses, two (or even more) options are available. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with a number of printing professionals to better understand how they are approaching this decision and what criteria they use. Read more for advice from the front lines.
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.