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Finding Answers Any Way You Can --Cagle

February 2003
It's early December, as I write this, and the first major snowstorm rocks the City of Brotherly Love. The storm takes a rare path of traveling due north up the eastern seaboard.

For those of us living in southern New Jersey (or South Jersey to all us separatist hawks) this is odd. Weather reports always show major storms striking north and west of Philly, meaning those of us on the eastern side of the Delaware River get to enjoy light precipitation, primarily rain. But on this morning, the storm is making its way north via Washington, DC.

What a time for PRINT Outlook 03. Four inches of snow is enough to turn snow-challenged cities such as Philly and DC, which become gridlocked with anything over two inches, into a traveler's nightmare.

Though a grizzled industry veteran of four (count 'em, four) years, it was this reporter's first encounter with Kip Smythe, Bill Lamparter and the NPES gang. It was nice to shake hands with the legendary Chris Colville, the Alex Rodriguez of the commercial printing industry. I wish I had a baseball, or a mock sales agreement, for him to sign.

And it was also an opportunity to dine with PI Publisher David Leskusky—who became engaged recently—and enjoy a dish of pasta with rabbit Ragu...the enjoyment part didn't come until after I had dismissed the notion of chowing down on Thumper and Bugs Bunny.

Listening to Harris DeWese discuss the sorry state of industry merger and acquisition activity was more than a little enjoyable. Harris sounds like someone on the bar stool next to you, talking plain English about his job.

One by one, the speakers delivered the same viewpoint, with only a localized modification. Andy Paparozzi, chief economist with the NAPL, spelled it out clearly: a rising tide will not lift all boats. Our industry's fortunes, which for years were tied to the economy's health, now have a mind of their own. So when the economy does rebound, not all commercial printers will be swinging with glee from the chandeliers.

The answer virtually all speakers gave for rectifying the uneasiness printers are feeling these days was nearly universal: diversification. Spread your wings beyond the realm of printing. Most of you are already offering creative services, mailing and fulfillment. A good many, according to the NAPL's State of the Industry Report, also provide client training/consulting, database management and variable-content digital printing, among others.
 

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