Patrick Henry is a journalist and an educator who has covered the graphic communications industry since 1984. The author of many hundreds of articles on business trends and technological developments in graphic communications, he has been published in most of the leading trade media in the field. He also has taught graphic communications as an adjunct lecturer for New York University and New York City College of Technology. The holder of numerous awards for industry service and education, Henry is currently the managing director of Liberty or Death Communications, a content consultancy.
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.
When did the market for printing’s most time-honored product—the book—become so difficult to read? A cross-section of publishing experts tried to sort out the issues in a panel discussion earlier this week at the New York Public Library, courtesy of Kodak.
Below is the text of a press release issued last week by the U.S. Postal Service. It is headed, "Postmaster General Restructures U.S. Postal Service/Layers Eliminated, Officer Ranks Reduced." As an ordinary user of USPS services, I have two questions about what I'm reading.
Imagine the cloud-based equivalent of a consumer’s physical mailbox—a virtual receptacle where the user can accumulate and manage bills, statements, coupons, catalogs, and almost anything else he or she is accustomed to receiving from business mailers, but in purely digital form. It soon will be a reality. Pitney Bowes calls it Volly.
Reborn for the new year is Virtual Press Clips, our periodic roundup of news items about printing companies in the general media. The object is to show that print firms continue to be esteemed and respected as good business neighbors by their hometown newspapers and local other media outlets.
The production of branded content—media created by businesses for marketing and customer relations—is a $47.2 billion industry in the U.S., and print still accounts for the largest share of the spend. Marketers believe in it, recipients trust it, and that spells sheer “contentment” all around.
In the time-honored tradition of ending the present year with resolutions for improvement in the year to come, New Direction Partners offers guidance for print company owners who may find themselves on one side or the other of an M&A transaction in 2011.
In the minds of media professionals whose the icon is the iPad, how much attention can print and other traditional channels expect to command? Speakers at this high-level event indicated that no matter what media are used, the quality of the content is what spells the difference between virality and oblivion for the brand message.
New Direction Partners has taken its M&A consulting on the road in a series of presentations. In these briefings, NDP offers an overview of the business climate for mergers and acquisitions, along with practical advice for owners pondering the next step in the life cycles of their companies.
Believing that there’s room in the 40" market for an addition to its Speedmaster line, Heidelberg rolled out the Speedmaster CX 102 in a customer event at its U.S. headquarters earlier this month. This newly engineered machine is said to transfer the best features of Heidelberg’s XL-series presses to the 102 format, its most successful product category.
By bringing just one offset press to Graph Expo 2010, it accounted for one-sixth of all offset presses at the show and one-third of the conventional (non-DI) printing machines on the floor of McCormick Place. That would be an unusual distinction for any exhibitor of press equipment, but it seems to have worked out well for Gronhi Graphics International, the U.S. arm of a Chinese vendor seeking a reputation and a toehold in the American market.
The Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) events were due to reach an inflection point, and it seems clear that at Graph Expo 2010, they reached one from which there will be no turning back. The break in the connection between showing heavy printing equipment and selling it made Graph Expo 2010 a watershed event. No longer do press manufacturers makers need elaborate displays of machinery at the GASC shows in order to achieve the marketing impact they desire.
How do you know that business you just bought is going to keep earning what you’ve been promised? What questions should you be asking, what contingency plans should you be building, and what hang-ups should you be looking out for? The partners at New Direction Partners have some answers for us.
As Graph Expo made abundantly clear, there’s no longer any segment of the industry that can’t be addressed by digital solutions that will work as least as well as conventional lithography, at least in shorter runs. The industry’s embrace of digital production is now complete, and all that’s left to debate is how long it will take the pockets of resistance to get on board or go away.
We’ll be happy to stand corrected if our count is wrong, but, after prowling the show floor of Graph Expo 2010 in search of lithographic printing equipment, we came up with only four fully assembled offset presses. Where did the heavy iron go? That’s not all that makes this year’s event seem a bit eerie when contrasted with the Graph Expo and Print shows of years past.
What is your printing company worth? Emotionally speaking, everything. But, owners contemplating the sale of their companies have to answer this tough question in an objective and a financially realistic way. Here are three common approaches to business valuation.
HP is convinced that locked inside smart phones, tablets, and other web-connected devices are billions of pages yearning to be printed. On September 20, HP’s Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) showcased its latest solutions for liberating personal and business printing at an “innovation summit” in New York City.
Canon Expo was the first opportunity since their recent merger for Canon and Océ to show their new team face. Patrick Henry was there to report back on just how well the two companies are working together and leveraging each other's strengths.
The New Jersey towns of Summit and New Providence are among the most upscale in the state. Household incomes are high, home prices remain strong, and local amenities are first-class. Nevertheless, some residents of these affluent communities are going hungry—an inequity that the area’s AlphaGraphics franchise is working to eliminate.
The picture above was taken not in a printing museum but in the letterpress department of Taylor Corporation’s Tatex subsidiary in Waco, TX. Somewhere in the room is what’s believed to be the oldest Heidelberg press still in operation in the U.S.
“On the whole, I would rather be in Philadelphia.” It’s what W.C. Fields was rumored (falsely) to have chosen as the inscription on his gravestone. For present-day bloggers in the City of Brotherly Love who remember it, the line carries as much irony as any of the late comedian’s celebrated wisecracks.
That’s because the city of Philadelphia wants them to pay what has been incorrectly labeled a “blogging tax”—a development reported by Philadelphia Citypaper last week.
A Printing Office, WhatTheyThink’s blog for small to medium printers, is now serving this audience under the auspices of PrintCEO. Patrick Henry, managing editor of A Printing Office, will continue to post news and commentary for this segment at PrintCEO, which contains a complete archive of material previously published at A Printing Office.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. By now, the economy should have picked up, printers’ prospects should have improved, and the banks should have responded by letting some sunlight into their vaults when borrowers from the industry came calling. What happened?
Although the nation’s general banking crisis may be over, says Tom Williams, partner, New Direction Partners, there’s been little improvement in the availability of credit for business and equipment financing.
Sales of a children’s book, The Adventures of Snooky Under the Sea, raise money in the fight against sarcoma, a deadly form of cancer. But the title made news in a curious way when another “Snooki” tried to register her moniker as a trademark for printed matter and books.
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.