BY T.J. TEDESCO
Different operating circumstances require different business strategies. For example, three trade binderies in three different states each have different plans and methods of doing business. Who's right? Maybe, they all are.
In today's rough and tumble graphic arts world, excellent performance is not optional. To successfully compete over the long haul, companies must consistently say what they do, and do what they say. Yesterday's recipe for success—service, quality and fair prices—is just the starting point. Carefully evaluating business factors, such as geographic location, customer attitudes toward outsourcing, management strengths and weaknesses, and company core competencies, is essential. Then, implementing the right game plan that capitalizes on real strategic advantages is where the rubber meets the road.
Located in Woburn, MA, a Boston suburb, 45-year-old Seaboard Bindery specializes in three main postpress product lines: adhesive binding, mechanical binding and saddle stitching. Seaboard Bindery is a regional competitor that rarely reaches beyond the New England states, eastern New York, New Jersey and southeastern Canada.
Frank Shear, Seaboard's president, acknowledges readily that his company is a niche player serving the bookbinding needs of printers in the Northeast. Seaboard Bindery offers non-core services, such as folding, cutting, drilling and laminating, to support the company's bookbinding niche. The company will occasionally convert fold-only or laminate-only jobs, but this type of non-core business is not aggressively sought out.
In the Northeast, there are binding companies with broader product lines than Seaboard Bindery, but the market is large enough to accommodate both the specialists and the generalists. Shear believes that being first to market with new product offerings is a distinct competitive advantage. As proof, he cites these examples: Seaboard Bindery was the first New England bindery to use PUR glue—strong enough for difficult-to-bind products—and to license both Otabind and RepKover lay-flat adhesive binding methods, giving clients a lower-cost alternative to mechanical binding. These investments have given the company its adhesive binding "triple play."