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One’s True Value Prop, Dickens Style —Cagle

December 2009

Bits and Pieces

Silver bells, silver's Christmas time in the city.

Ring-a-ling...hear them ring.
Soon it will be, Christmas day!

Holiday music tends to put people in a better state of mind. Did it work for you? I know, it's hard to make the bad feelings of an entire year go away with a few lines from a Christmas song. We might have to book a Manheim Steamroller concert in order to sing away all the blahs accumulated during 2009.

Take a look at all of the negative percentage changes in sales for the PI 400. Then consider that next year's list will be even worse, since those figures will include the performances of companies whose fiscal years typically ended 12/31/09. Most of this year's rankings include performances through 12/31/08, with a few 6/30/09s sprinkled in.

For many of us, it's hard to disassociate professional shortcomings with our private lives. We let our professions get tangled into our identities. Jack Nicholson's lead role in the film "About Schmidt" is a not-so-gentle reminder that life goes on without us after we exit the workforce, and that the pursuit of professional success—as a measure of personal worth—is often a hollow pursuit for most people.

Whenever I feel like I've come up shy of goals or expectations, I focus on my children. They accept me for who I am, and couldn't care less if my title was CEO, senior editor or head ditch digger. The people who they become, and not some story I wrote about sheetfed presses in 2001, will be my legacy. Intended or not, that's my value proposition.

Given the time of season, there's some dusty Dickens-esque lesson being dispensed here, and you're a little advanced to be assailed by the "remember what's important" mantra. But every now and then, it's beneficial to be reminded that our greater selves cannot be found in a P&L ledger.

Here's wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

STICKY SITUATION: As state agencies go, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) ranks extremely high on the annoy-o-meter. Sure, its service has gotten better. More often than not, you can now walk out of the DMV without fighting the strong urge to pummel one of its minions. Maybe you can; I still have issues.

Well, get ready to crack those knuckles again, New Yorkers. It seems that state's DMV agencies were given about five million defective registration stickers from a pair of vendors. The problem? Insufficient glue is causing inspection stickers to fall on the dashboard or floor, prompting motorists to use household tape and other adhesives to stay legal or face a slap in the wallet from the authorities.

Mistakes happen; more often than not, it's too much adhesive that is used. According to Newsday, vendor SecureMark of Chicago has agreed to replace 1.4 million stickers at no cost. At press time, the DMV was still negotiating compensation with its other vendor, fellow Windy City provider RR Donnelley.

STINGING ENDORSEMENT: If the Olympic Committee ever decides to do a printer-based, multi-sport activity, the weighty task of representing our fair union may just fall to the shoulders of Brian Sacco and Emery Klein, the pride of The Newtown Bee's printing crew in Newtown, CT.

That very newspaper reported the Herculean efforts of Messrs Sacco and Klein, who captured no fewer than five trophies at the annual Printer's Picnic and Clambake, sponsored by the Connecticut Litho Club. The dynamic duo bested a field of 40 to take top honors in the horseshoe tournament, and were equally to the task by winning a rafting race down the infamous Holiday Hills waterway. Lastly, the fantastic two topped all comers in the requisite hammer and nail competition.

Take that, Sacramento Bee!

These performances (and they won two other trophies for...something or other) may represent the apex of athletic competition for members of the printing trade. We offer wholehearted congratulations to Sacco and Klein, and await their future exploits at the 2010 Clambake. But, invite the trade press next year, particularly if you plan on serving clam pie.

KING OF THE MOUNTAIN: We present example No. 6,432 as to why the effort to portray print as a dying communication is fruitless—the power of the billboard, and its ability to effectively distract you from driving long enough to pound out its message, but not long enough to wrap your Impala around a pine tree.

I recently perused a billboard touting the virtues of Big Mountain Imaging, which produces (among other things) billboards, wall graphics, vehicle wraps, banners and backlit displays. The 70-year-old company, which has offices in Philadelphia and Las Vegas, joined the billboard game after years of its own frustrating experiences with third-party sources.

The billboard ad is certainly worth a few chuckles. It portrays a chicken (or is it a rooster?) standing next to an egg that is slightly bigger than the fowl itself. Just a gentle reminder that no idea is so big that it can't fit through a printing press.

You can find Big Mountain at PI

—Erik Cagle



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