Consolidation--The Ties That Bind?
Frick earlier served as president of the direct marketing group at Banta when the company acquired Danbury Printing. Prior to that, he toiled for R.R. Donnelley's book group. He began his career at DuPont, where he orchestrated the supply end of the graphic arts distribution program.
"There's no question that the trend toward consolidation in the graphic communications industry is rampant and will continue," Frick notes. "It's too linear to say that the consolidation trend will spell the end for midsize and small providers. I don't think that will be the case.
"There is a position in this food chain for midsize and smaller printing companies," he adds. "The printing industry has a high service component and has very substantial service requirements."
Successful printing companies, Frick believes, need to be able to dedicate themselves to individual customers, bringing about a strong relationship focus. The ability and will to tailor capital and human assets to specific customer requirements is key to a printing firm's success, regardless of its size.
Points to Consider
Frick feels the industry is still relatively fragmented and diverse, a trend he sees continuing, though diminishing, over the next 10 years. Consolidation also requires a post-acquisition, multi-faceted integration process—one that takes time and isn't always smooth. Integration, he points out, involves the imperative of successfully blending company cultures while allowing for earned autonomy. Important sales considerations include fostering cross-selling, fairly and harmoniously rethinking the mechanics of account assignments and sales compensation arrangements.
Relationships are most vital. "Customers in our industry still buy from individuals they trust and value," Frick says. "They don't exclusively buy from large companies that they may not always understand. Sometimes the major providers—in the minds of their customers—have trouble meeting customers' changing schedule requirements. Getting bumped from their place in a major printer's computerized schedule can be an issue for any customer. Middle-market providers and smaller companies sometimes achieve this focused flexibility and service fluency in a way that is more appealing to customers."