Package Printing Converts: Transformations from Commercial Printing

Vista Color executives (from the left) Henry Serrano, Juan Roque and Jess Hernandez inspect a piece.

A press operator keeps an eye on things at Service Litho-Print.

Technicians perform work on Vista Color’s Bobst SPeria 106e diecutter.

Here at Printing Impressions, we managed to find a handful of printers—Graphic Dimensions in Atlanta and New Dimension Labels in Austell GA, Vista Color in Miami, and Service Litho-Print in Oshkosh, WI—who have either added packaging as an ancillary service or have completely abandoned the commercial world in favor of flexible packaging, labels, folding cartons and the like.

OK, stop us if you’ve heard this one before…printing company chief sits down with his executive team to workshop possible scenarios for growth. One woman suggests direct mail, but that is met with frowns. Another points toward the recent trend toward Web-to-print storefronts. Better, but maybe not an ideal fit for the client base, the boss responds.

A few other ideas are kicked around, until someone finally utters, “Well, how about package printing? You’ll never see a box of Frosted Flakes going online.”

That’s been the popular joke about packaging, that it is insulated from losing market share to electronic alternatives. But, migrating from the commercial world to packaging is hardly a laughing matter; the investment in equipment, education and training required to make the leap ain’t no joke. And, if commercial printers believe their market is oversaturated with competitors, they will soon find that many packaging segments are tough nuts to crack, overflowing with suppliers.

Ironically, the trade press has long touted the virtues of branching out into package printing. As trends go, it hasn’t exactly caught fire, has it? Still, we managed to find a handful of printers who have either added packaging as an ancillary service or have completely abandoned the commercial world in favor of flexible packaging, labels, folding cartons and the like. In the end, their journey may not be one you wish to emulate, but their ideas may contain value for your business.

Not long ago, Atlanta-based Graphic Dimensions went out in search of a game-changing idea. The main thrust was to invest in a segment of the printing industry that offered long-term growth potential and not be as vulnerable to economic downturns. Its traditional business document segment lifted the firm to nearly 20 years of continued sales growth, but business document sales are tied to the fate of transactions in a weak economy (which tend to take a beating). Similarly, some of Graphic Dimensions’ customers are moving away from hardcopy forms and checks.

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