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New Markets — Packaging’s Profit Potential

August 2009 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
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GIVEN THE state of the economy, it’s not surprising that printers are constantly on the lookout for fresh revenue streams. Heck, even in a robust economy, printers are seeking out ancillary products and services to help offset the erosion of more mature or vulnerable markets.

The Great Recession of 2009 is to printing what the swimming competition is to the triathlon. Businesses feel like they’re moving in slow motion, despite their best efforts, and flailing to get ahead. 

But once that part is over, the pace is going to pick up in a big hurry. Although the race may not be won during a recession, it can certainly be lost.

One body of water that some printers have dipped their toes into is the printing of packaging. Most observers are still muttering about the excess of 40˝ sheetfed presses clogging the commercial market, and an intriguing avenue for businesses in need of a new “out pitch” is to take on the world of folding cartons, flexible packaging, point-of-purchase, and tags/labels.

Need a bit of an education on the subject? There’s a golden opportunity to become well-versed in this area if you’re bound for PRINT 09 next month. The PackPrint pavilion for package printing will be situated within the Chicago extravaganza, offering (among other things) educational seminars.

Profit margins in packaging? It depends on who you ask, but several printers indicated that they’re not unlike that for general commercial work. Which means little, since printing margins run anywhere from 2 percent to 10 percent.

Flower City Printing, of Rochester, NY, started out as a commercial shop and migrated into packaging work about 20 years ago. It now accounts for 45 percent of Flower City sales. 

All the Same to the Press

“When it comes to printing substrates, the presses don’t know the difference. Usually the biggest key to the learning curve is how broad-minded your people are,” states Bill Oliveri, a founding member of Flower City Printing.

Folding cartons are the main thrust of Flower City’s business. They represent a number of challenges, such as grain directions, scores and cutting rules. Different substrates call for various dies. Polystyrene, a popular substrate for the printer’s clientele, has the tendency to stretch and shrink due to heat sensitivity.



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