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2002 Year in Review -- Silver Lining Still Tarnished

December 2002
By Erik Cagle

Say what you want about 2002, but very shortly you'll be able to say these two magic words: it's over.

By nature, printers are optimists. So are trade magazine journalists. Thus, coming off a dreadful 2001, horribly punctuated by a reeling economy and the September 11 attacks, most industry people were forecasting a much-improved 2002. No one was ready to pop the champagne cork, but a marked improvement was in the offering, with a strong economic rebound catapulting revenues heading into 2003.

Better days, like Godot, never arrived.

To say 2003 cannot be any worse than 2002 is tantamount to whistling in the dark. The last nine quarters have been brutal, to put it nicely. To echo the oft-repeated phrase of the last two-plus years: it has been this bad for this long.

Unfortunately, when 2002 is viewed 20 years down the line, it will be remembered for more than red ink. What follows is a few of the more memorable events that shaped the commercial printing industry.

Late in 2001 came the news that Ted Ammon, non-executive chairman of Moore Corp. of Toronto, had been bludgeoned to death in his home. An investment banker, Ammon was worth an estimated $100 million at the time of his death. Although the case generated national attention and sparked scandalous rumors, no one has been charged with his death.

Printing Arts America (PAA), Darien, CT, one of a once-large number of industry consolidators, filed for Chapter 11 reorganizational bankruptcy late in 2001. By the middle of 2002, each of the individual companies in the PAA chain had been closed or sold back to the original owners. Consolidated Graphics of Houston went back to work, landing former PAA business S&S Graphics, of Laurel, MD, in an acquisition. Another Houston-based consolidator, Nationwide Graphics, landed three PAA companies: Classic Printing, Nashville, TN; AIM Riverside Press, Pompano Beach, FL; and Printing Arts Houston.

Speaking of buying back businesses, the employees of Appleton Papers, Appleton, WI, plunked down $810 million to wrest ownership from parent company Arjo Wiggins Appleton.

Nezar "Mike" Maad, owner of the former Frontier Printing Services in Anchorage, AK, was sentenced to six months in federal prison after being found guilty of two counts of falsifying loan applications, one count of wire fraud and two counts of making false statements to the government. The Syrian-born Maad reported that his print shop had been vandalized—presses and related equipment were destroyed, with the words, "We hate Arabs" spray painted on the shop's wall. During the FBI investigation, it was learned Maad had falsified loan documents and lied to the government to obtain small business loans.


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