Dr. Joe Webb Economic Update on WhatTheyThink Garners International Attention
Press release from the issuing company
June 25, 2004 -- In a free Webinar hosted by WhatTheyThink.com, the printing industry’s leading source of news and information, Dr. Joe Webb, one of the industry's best-known consultants and a 26-year veteran of the graphic arts industries, shared his insight on the state of the industry at the end of the first half of 2004, and his views about how 2005 would shape up. Nearly 400 senior printing executives from around the world registered for this event, which was sponsored by EFI. While most of the attendees were from North America, viewers tuned in from Austrialia, Turkey, Russia, Brazil, Europe and Asia. The audio of the Webinar and PDF of the presentation are available online:
Among the non-economic topics covered by Dr. Webb were:
-- The print business owner’s “to do” list (imperative things that must be done in the new print economy),
-- What drupa’s events may mean for GraphExpo, including a discussion about the role of trade shows in the B2B media mix
-- Dr. Joe’s Summer Reading List
“The economy's momentum is clear to everyone except the printing business and the media,” said Dr. Webb, “but advertising is starting to pick up and so are printers’ profits. This is a good sign for the months ahead, and perhaps the worst is over for the restructuring of the printing industry. Though demand may still be headed down, we may have found a way to be more profitable with cost management and smart investment.”
Both new jobs and net new businesses are on the rise, and Dr. Webb forecasted GDP to remain on a +4% to +4.5% growth path for the balance of 2004, and still holding strong at +3.5% to +4% for 2005. Dr. Webb also projected that the Fed would raise rates at least twice during the balance of 2004, ultimately ending 2005 at 3.5%. And he pointed out that CEO enthusiasm is still somewhat constrained by the uncertainty of world events, stating that small businesses and outsourcers—including printers—can benefit from their unwillingness to step up infrastructure investments.
While recovery in the printing industry in terms of print shipments is not as strong as much of the rest of the economy, Dr. Webb indicated that printing profits are on the rise, which is good news for the industry. Overall printing profits have risen to an annualized $4.5 billion level, a level not seen since late 2002. “The key to maintaining this increased profitability,” according to Dr. Webb, “is to aggressively manage capacity utilization inside the plant. It is also important to offer the right product mix and to maintain control of the sales process—getting beyond the order taker stage to gain a better understanding of how you can solve business problems for your customers—a much different approach than simply selling print.”
Dr. Webb continued, “Management matters. It almost doesn’t make a difference what the industry is doing—individual companies that are well-managed can do well even in tough economic times.”
Other advice Dr. Webb shared with the graphic arts community included:
-- Revisit your business goals. Doing things differently but having the same goals will not change the nature of your business. Sometimes this may mean walking away from business that no longer fits within the current strategy.
-- Be part of the “outsourcing” movement, helping your customers reduce their total cost of business communications
-- Call on customers—where the demand originates. And call your own business as a customer to see how customer-friendly your organization is.
The presentation, including audio, can be accessed at no charge by visiting:
Dr. Webb will be presenting quarterly updates through the balance of the year, hosted by WhatTheyThink.com. He also provides commentary in his weekly WhatTheyThink columns, available to Premium Access members.
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.