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Canadian Trade Printers — Going North of the Border

June 2007 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
Toronto is home to many wondrous icons, from the CN Tower on down to hockey’s Maple Leafs. But, to the printing industry, the greater Toronto area is a fertile feeding ground for farming out excess volume or special needs jobs to the scores of printers to the trade that thrive here.

It is a curiosity that so many printers to the trade are based in and around Toronto, but there are advantages to taking this route. Many of the trade businesses are relatively young, thus, much of the equipment in these shops is new. For many, an outside sales force is unnecessary. And, now, with Chinese and Indonesian coated free sheet paper imports carrying a hefty tariff, it’s yet another way for a U.S. printer to save some money outsourcing and remain competitive in its bidding process.

“The Toronto market is home to a group of companies that developed the model, including Prodigy Graphics and West Star,” notes Dennis Low, president of PointOne Graphics, based in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke, Ontario.

PointOne started as a back-alley duplicating shop that was more of a service bureau. Late in the 1990s, the company obtained its first 40˝ press, and its growth skyrocketed. The printer moved into a 70,000-square-foot facility two years ago, and now operates 24/7 with 100 employees and annual sales of $30 million. Buoyed by a fleet of sheetfed presses, including a Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 105, PointOne recently installed its first web, a five-color MAN Roland Rotoman.

Versatility is key for PointOne, with a product and service package that is all over the map—catalogs, direct mail, point-of-purchase materials, annual reports, even pizza flyers. Most of the shop’s work is acquired through brokers, though PointOne also counts some of North America’s largest printers as its customers.

“Anybody can buy equipment, but only a few are able to deliver on price, quality and service,” Low contends. “We’re also far exceeding everyone’s expectations. We’ve developed a level of confidence with our clients, and we tend to look for long-term relationships. A lot of trade printers will do a job and move on to the next one, but we look at the long term.”

Finding Their Groove

PointOne seems to have found its groove in recent years. It ditched outside sales because “we were terrible at managing the salespeople and, when you start managing people on the road, it gets a bit complicated,” Low says. “So, one day we said, ‘We have good prices, so let’s give them our best price going in, and people will come to us.’ Our reputation grew and grew.”
 

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