Summit Forecasts Healthy Industry

CHICAGO—The first NPES Industry Summit provided an optimistic view of print’s current and future prospects.

A series of speakers concurred that sustained economic growth and smart adoption of technologies to create new value-added services have helped put the U.S. printing industry in its strongest position in years.

Ronnie Davis, chief economist at PIA/GATF, noted that U.S. printers’ sales reached $171 billion in 2006, a gain of 3.3 percent over the previous year and a major rebound from a low point of about $156 billion in 2002. He forecasts increases of about 1.5 percent in 2007 and 2.5 percent in 2008.

Significant growth is coming from new digital and “ancillary” services that printers are adding to their portfolios, Davis said, noting, “This is still an opportunity industry.”

Joseph Truncale, president of NAPL, reported that in 2006, sales grew at their fastest rate in eight years and will continue to grow in 2007, although at a noticeably slower pace. He also described how successful printers are adapting their businesses to structural changes in the industry, along with some of the barriers that still remain, including the need for some to develop “a whole skill set for the sales force.”

Dr. Joseph Webb noted that “all media are experimental today because the relationships between them have changed so dramatically.” He said the challenge for printers was not only to be “modern” today, but to figure out how to be modern 18 months from now.

“It’s not your competitors you have to worry about, it’s your clients,” he said. “You have to find a way to stay ahead of them.”

NPES Consulting Economist Michael Evans predicted there will be a slowdown in the national economy in 2007, but no recession. He added that media coverage of the recent reverses in mortgage lending was overstated.

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