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PI 400 - - Year in Review - A Year We'll All Remember

December 2001
BY ERIK CAGLE


Without a doubt, 2001 was both a forgettable year and a year that won't soon be forgotten.

Printers spent most of the year lamenting a poor economy that seemed to be trying to outdo itself in finding new lows with each passing month. Their customers, print buyers, were feeling the pinch: ad pages and folios dwindled, print orders declined and traditional commercial work seemed to be taking a beating.

Others blamed the Internet and Web-based technologies for muscling in on the already-thinning turf, but the poster child of 1999 and 2000 was crying in its own beer. Industry dotcoms found venture capitalists weren't venturing into their neck of the woods, so they needed to find more traditional, well-heeled bedfellows to stay afloat. Some did, others didn't. Struggling companies such as 58k, Creative Pro e-Services, PrintNation, Printbid and Collabria were all acquired by contemporaries for their technologies.

The poor economy had an immediate impact on mergers and acquisitions, which dwindled down to a handful of notable transactions. The few that did take place trace their roots back to the now-seemingly heady days of 2000.

In early September, thousands of printers converged upon Chicago for PRINT 01 with a sense of hopeful optimism. After all, economies stumble and rebound, and new technologies often afford even newer opportunities for this venerable, enduring industry. Talk revolved around a possible shift in the fourth quarter of the year, leading to a more fruitful 2002. And what better way to usher in this infusion of confidence than to visit the Windy City and witness the industry at its best?

Hopes for a promising end to a largely dismal year, and more than 5,000 souls, were lost in less than an hour's time on the morning of September 11, 2001. Osama bin Laden, airplane security and Anthrax worked its way into our everyday vocabulary. Our nation moved quickly into a wartime posture, and it will be a long, long time before life in America resumes any semblance of normalcy.

On the other hand, our nation banded together to pick up the pieces of shattered buildings, lives and careers. People gave at the office and at home: money, blood, foodstuffs. A national telethon raked in millions and, as of mid-October, the total tally of funds raised to support the efforts to aid those affected by the events of September 11 surpassed $1 billion.

And while the economy continued to reel in the aftermath of September 11, with major print players announcing massive layoffs and plant closings, an underlying feeling in many of us underscored the notion that this country didn't get where it is today simply on its looks. Without a doubt, 2001 was both a forgettable year and a year that won't soon be forgotten—but the test of time will yield a nation stronger than ever before.
 

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