Commercial Printing–Slowdown Slated for ’99?

Paparozzi feels the industry is closely tied to the economy, thus it behooves commercial printers to follow consumer spending. He wonders if a proper policy decision can be implemented to arrest the international economic crises. Should the economy slow in the 2 to 21⁄2 percent range in 1999, as is predicted, Paparozzi believes print sales will register about 31⁄2 to 41⁄2 percent growth.

Ronnie Davis, chief economist for the Printing Industries of America (PIA), has gotten the impression that some print markets have become less predictable in their traditional, seasonal patterns. In the end, he believes 1998 will be remembered by commercial printers as a year where they were busy, but the heavy workload didn’t necessarily build their bottom lines.

“However, due to the fact that most consumables prices have been stable or even declining, printers certainly couldn’t have sustained the pressure on their prices that they’ve had to endure,” he says.

Maurice Bushroe, vice president of sales and marketing at Cheverly, MD-based Peake Printers, saw customer understanding grow this year in terms of technology’s effect on the print production process, particularly scheduling. As for 1999, he expects a sound performance from the Baltimore-Washington corridor, but the global economy is not as certain.

“If companies continue to feel a negative impact from overseas operations, they will cut down on U.S. advertising, which affects commercial printers,” Bushroe says.

“When the dollar flow is strong, people invest in quality and that bodes well for us.”

Ralph Strong, controller for Los Angeles-based ColorGraphics, counted 1998 as a surprisingly good year for his web offset and sheetfed company. ColorGraphics added new plants in Irvine, CA, and Seattle, along with three full-web presses. It also completed the printing of Microsoft’s annual report.

Fortifying its 1998 acquisitions will be the main focus for ColorGraphics in 1999, not more deals.

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