Impressions from Our Venerable List -Michelson

It’s hard to believe that this marks the 29th anniversary of our annual Printing Impressions 400 list of the largest printers in the United States and Canada ranked by annual sales. (The rankings and an accompanying list of the 400 companies in alpha order appear in a special, pull-out insert facing page 34.) Long-time readers of Printing Impressions might recall that our list used to include 500 companies, but was dropped to 400 firms in 2000 as a result of industry consolidation.

That consolidation trend has intensified, albeit more from the result of shrinking print markets coupled with the economic fallout from the Great Recession. Unfortunately, “tuck-in” has become the word du jour as buyers typically seek an acquired company’s active accounts to bolster sales and fill capacity—but not assets such as production and support staff, a brick-and-mortar facility or older, inefficient equipment.

Gone from this year’s list are Vertis, in the process of being swallowed by Quad/Graphics; as well as iconic, family-owned enterprises that frequently appeared within past PI 400 rankings, like Williamson Printing, Finlay Printing, Branch-Smith Printing and Sells Printing, to name just a few.

This special issue also contains 2013 forecasts for key print market segments, namely books, catalogs, magazines and direct mail, and for commercial printing overall. Check out our exclusive interviews with several of the largest industry players in these segments as they reveal the dynamics that are reshaping their traditional and multi-channel offerings in response to evolving customer needs. One recurring theme: Digital printing and personalization capabilities are becoming ever more critical to success. Likewise, the elephant in the room remains the troubled U.S. Postal Service, and what reforms Congress will adopt to stop its financial hemorrhaging and to rightsize the distribution channel upon which our industry is so dependent.

This is also the time of the year where we take thanks for our many blessings, and cast aside the challenges that exist. As Printing Industries of America Chief Economist Ronnie Davis reminds us, the printing and allied industry remains a $160 billion-a-year entity. No longer the center of the marketing and information universe, it’s still a major force in a multimedia world. Happy Holidays from the Printing Impressions family. Continue to share the journey with us in the coming year.

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