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.
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.
Running a small print services company is tough. Running for high public office against a richer opponent is tougher. Now imagine trying to do both under pressure from a civil lawsuit by an unhappy business partner.
That, according to press reports, is the can of worms confronting Dave Westlake, a co-owner of High IQ in Watertown, WI, and a Republican candidate in Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate primary election next month.
Joel Templin, Craig MacLean, and Katie Jain, founding partners, JAQK Cellars; David Dees, national sales manager.
Last night, in a tasting at a wine boutique on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the creators of a new line of premium wines from the Napa Valley made their first bid for attention in the New York metro market. Those who dropped by to sample—including one lady with a live lobster in her tote bag—were intrigued not just by the complexities of the eight varietals on offer, but by the distinctive appearance of their gambling-themed bottles.
Tumbling dice. Suits of cards. Points from a roulette wheel. An embedded poker chip. Tightly executed color images on offset-printed paper labels and screen-printed wraps. Meet JAQK Cellars, a brand that comes to market with an exceptional pedigree in graphic design and package printing.
New York State’s budget was 125 days late when it finally was passed on Tuesday, but it contained something that printers throughout the state considered well worth waiting for: their continued exemption from the sales and use tax on printed and mailed promotional materials.
Printing Industries Alliance (PIA) said that preservation of the exemption is a major victory for printers in New York State. In a message to his members, Timothy Freeman, president of PIA, called the exemption “critical for our industry. It is a significant competitive advantage for New York State printers.”
Workers of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your fear of getting printer’s ink on your jeans.
As a revolutionary slogan, it probably wouldn’t rouse the masses to the barricades, but Levi Strauss & Co. is hoping that the universal appeal of ink on paper will draw visitors to the craft print shop it has set up in San Francisco. A temporary installation, the shop is part of a marketing campaign through which the apparel maker aims to demonstrate solidarity with America’s working people.
(detail from original art)
We’re only passing this along, folks.
Headbäng, a music blog for heavy metal fans, reports that Watain, a black metal band from Sweden, recently commissioned the printing of a poster in human blood.
The job was perpetrated—uh, we mean produced—by Metastazis, a photography and graphic design firm started in Paris and currently based in New York City.
We hear it constantly: the industry won't return to normal until printers start investing in their businesses again. But at one printing company in New Jersey, they never got the memo about capital investment being on hold.
Sandy Alexander of Clifton isn't waiting for economists to tell it that the time finally is right to add capacity and services. The company - with a staff of 230, one of the largest printing employers in the state - has already spent $7 million on new production machinery this year, and its quest to equip itself for growth isn't over yet.
The fashion designer Calvin Klein is famous—or notorious—for advertising that pushes the limits of public taste with highly eroticized imagery. But, in terms of marketing effectiveness, the strategy has its limitations.
Last year, the company raised eyebrows in the SoHo district of Manhattan with a five-story building poster depicting four young, semi-undressed models striking poses that struck some as orgiastic. The shock value was obvious, but, as with all media novelties, the shock eventually wore off. What to do for an encore in a jaded media market that Calvin Klein is largely responsible for jading in the first place?
The Virginian-Pilot has reported that Shorewood Packaging intends to close its gravure printing operation in Newport News, VA, in October. The closure will shutter the plant and result in the loss of 35 jobs.
When he isn’t pitching horseshoes with deadlier accuracy than probably anyone else in the world, Alan Francis works for a printing company.
Francis is the subject of a front-page profile in the print edition of today’s New York Times.
A friend who dropped a chunk of my writing into IWriteLike tells me that the answer is H.G. Wells (1866-1946). The good news is that I correspond stylistically with an author of the 20th century—I wasn’t sure that I was this far along on the timeline of the English language. The fantastic news is that the answer wasn’t Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873), poet, playwright, novelist, and inspirer of the famous Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.
In Part 1 of this primer on evaluating acquisition targets, Paul Reilly and Peter Schaefer of New Direction Partners reviewed the questions a prospective buyer should ask about the things that make the seller's company productive: its plant, its equipment, and the state of its relations with employees. Their discussion continues with advice for assessing the outcomes of that productivity: the quality of the financial results; the condition of the customer base; and the nature of the relationships that the seller has with its suppliers.
Printers in New York State are a step closer to seeing their legislature preserve a sales tax exemption that would have been extremely costly for them to lose. Tim Freeman, president of Printing Industries Alliance, reported the progress to his members yesterday:
A much-quoted survey of small business owners said that the economic confidence felt by this segment leveled off in June to halt a two-month rise. The dip, although not large, reflected increased unease about the near-term outlook for smaller firms.
Eleven employees of Boston’s municipal printing department headed into the Fourth of July weekend with the glum knowledge that they would not be returning to work this week. Their jobs were taken away by the city’s decision to close the 113-year-old plant and give the work to private-sector printers.
The title of the dialogue was “Keeping America Informed 3.0: How Electronic Media, Digital Printing, and Sustainability Imperatives Will Change the Way the World Communicates.” Its main purpose, though, could be summed up in fewer words: to recap the tenure of Robert C. Tapella as the 25th Public Printer of the United States.
In our rush to embrace iPads, Kindles, and other revolutionary electronic book readers, it’s easy to forget that these devices can seem anything but revolutionary to those who can’t see well enough to discern what’s on their screens. But, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education haven’t forgotten the exclusions that e-readers can cause when they are used as learning tools in classrooms where sight-impaired students are striving to keep up.
Twenty-five college and college-bound students from the New York City metro area will find the high cost of higher education a bit easier to bear thanks to the cash grants they received on June 24 from the Graphic Communications Scholarship Award and Career Advancement Foundation (GCSF).
On June 24th, The Print Council brought the sixth edition of its “Print Delivers” series to New York City in a “lunch and learn” program hosted by Sappi Fine Papers North America. The session, presented to more than 200 people at the Art Directors Club in midtown Manhattan, reiterated the Council’s message about the place of print in the marketing mix and its unique abilities to influence consumer behavior.
If you’re acquiring a company, you better do your due diligence. But what does that involve? Patrick Henry spoke to two M&A experts to get the lowdown on how to ask the right questions. This is the first of a two part series; this one deals with inspecting the facilities and determining what kind of team you’re inheriting.
The post about OSHA fines hanging over a Pennsylvania printer drew some sharp comments about safety practices in the printing industry. One question was especially provocative: is the recession-battered printing industry skimping on safety by paying less attention than it once did to protecting life and limb on the job? The data we do have indicate that while it’s still quite possible to get hurt or even killed in a printing plant, print firms offer workers a safer environment than private-sector industry as a whole. What’s more, the numbers on safety in printing and related services have been improving steadily for years.
On Tuesday, the Wayne Independent of Honesdale, PA, reported that a local printer was facing fines of $107,100 for alleged violations of OSHA safety rules. Readers are having none of it. Online comments are alike in finding more fault with OSHA than with the printer. Readers also bemoan the loss of U.S. business to China in the same breath as they lambast excessive regulation in this country.
Going for an award in IAPHC's International Gallery of Excellence remains one of the simplest and most cost-effective promotional efforts a printing company can make. Now in its 36th year, the competition is easy to enter, open to everybody, and guaranteed to boost the pride of all who capture one of its Gold, Silver, or Bronze trophies.
You may have heard about The Green Box: a pizza carton with a lid that turns into serving plates and a tray that folds up to make a container for storing leftover slices in the fridge. Another clever idea in the same eco-friendly vein is the Globe Guard Reusable Box from Salazar Packaging.
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