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One on One with Ken Garner, CEO and President of MFSA

May 27, 2011
Ken Garner is CEO and President of the Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association (MFSA). Prior to November 2008, for 33 years Garner had been with United Litho, an operating division within The Sheridan Group. For the last 15 years, he served as president and COO, and was most recently vice president of business development for Sheridan Magazine Services.

MFSA is the national trade association for the mailing and fulfillment services industry. For more than 90 years MFSA has been working to improve the business environment for mailing and fulfillment companies and to provide opportunities for the learning and professional development of the managers of these companies.

MFSA provides instant postal information, periodicals, business surveys, and manuals unique to the industry, networking opportunities, excellent low cost insurance, and management education and information. The association is comprised of more than 600 companies, most located in the USA and Canada.

With a changing economy, and new customer demands challenging every segment of the graphic communications industry, what key trends do you believe will impact the mailing and fulfillment industries over the next five years?

There are two primary realities that I believe will impact the futures of mail service providers and commercial printers. First, the consolidation that has characterized the mailing and printing industries over the past several years will continue as long as the relationship between supply and demand remains unbalanced. The overabundance of supply has led to an environment characterized by hypercompetition and commoditization. This dynamic is forcing many companies to re-engineer their value propositions with many expanding their menu of products and services to become more of a “marketing services provider.”

A by-product of this dynamic is another trend that I have labeled “convergence;” that is, the ultimate elimination of the distinctive differences that formerly defined commercial printers and mail service providers. Much of this has already occurred as commercial printers developed in-house mailing capabilities and mail service providers moved into offering printing capabilities. And, some of both these market segments have added fulfillment capabilities to supplement their respective service offerings.

To me, the longer term implications of these trends is that, in an effort to escape from the trap of commoditization, a shorter list of suppliers may find themselves crowding a redefined market space. However, regardless of economic trends, some business management realities never change. Long-term business success depends on creating a sustainable competitive advantage by developing an intimate understanding of your customers’ wants, needs and expectations and satisfying those needs in a way that positively differentiates you from your competition. While many of MFSA’s members who specialize in fulfillment enjoyed success during the recent recession, they are not immune from this business reality.
 

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