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Paper -- Stockpiling Isn't the Solution

June 1999 By Erik Cagle
"Sir, please put the abundant supply of paper down and slowly back away from the edge! Don't stockpile for Y2K; you simply won't need that much paper before the new millennium. C'mon, buddy, don't make the plunge. You have so many other things to invest in without tying money up in a large supply of paper. Don't do it, no!"

OK, so it's highly doubtful that the "paper police" would ever have to talk a print customer off the ledge of paper stockpiling. Admittedly, there's no such thing as the paper police or a ledge of stockpiled paper. But there are interested parties within the commercial printing industry who are patrolling the streets in an effort to see that Y2K paper stockpiling does not become an epidemic.

The prevailing theory among pundits and so-called Y2K experts is that should problems arise resulting from millennium bug damage, there may be a shortage of consumables, including paper. The same people fear that the electronic sliding doors at the local supermarket won't open, so they have taken it upon themselves to stock up on gallons of Deer Park water and Chips Ahoy cookies.

Paper, publishing and printing members of the Graphic Communications Association (GCA) met March 10th in New York to discuss, among other things, the prospects of paper stockpiling to avoid breakdowns of deliveries. The GCA revealed that a report by Gerry Galewski, information systems director at Perry Judd's Inc., points out that most larger printers have already investigated, identified and replaced any potential Y2K problems. In the process of compiling information for his report, Galewski has learned of print buyers who plan to stockpile anywhere from one to four months of extra paper, "just in case."

The GCA report quotes Herb Krupp, a statistician with the American Forest & Paper Association, as stating that stockpiling would push most North American mills to their limits for groundwood grades.

Inventory Know-how
Keith Pratt, vice president of purchasing for Mail-Well, believes that talk of paper stockpiling—either by printers or their customers—is inevitable. He feels printers are less likely to stockpile, given their experience in inventory management.

"Management systems are more efficient today than they've ever been," Pratt remarks. "We tell customers that there's no reason to [stockpile]. We have no indication at this point that our suppliers will do anything different in the supply chain as a result of Y2K. Our internal capacity will support flexing production to support any Y2K-related demand,"
 

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