Seattle Bindery–Trade Binderies in a Bind?

The opportunity to acquire the tabbing operation appeared a few years after Vine purchased Seattle Bindery. According to Vine, the margins for this work are good, since the majority are custom jobs. It fit nicely into the company’s other bindery offerings, and the deal included operators trained to run the equipment. Vine decided to drop the unprofitable mailing component of the bindery purchase and put those dollars toward the tabbing business.

Vine’s more recent letterpress acquisition in 1997 was perhaps less tailor-made, but still made sense for Seattle Bindery. It would provide the company with a suite of complementary postpress services and, after Vine reviewed customer lists of both organizations, it was apparent there was already a high degree of crossover. This fact alone convinced Vine to add the letterpress services of diecutting, foil stamping, embossing (presentation folders) and numbering.

However, Vine overestimated his ability to run two separate businesses in separate locations.

Knowing that he was scheduled to relocate his entire operation to South Seattle in the spring of 1999 (see sidebar), he had hoped to avoid the disruption of moving the Bellevue-based letterpress operation into his Central Seattle plant…but it was not to be. Vine acknowledges that, in retrospect, the move probably was a blessing in disguise, since it helped him understand the inter-relationship between the bindery and other services, which was a great aid in planning the layout in his new facility.

“As much as I wish it were true, there are no foolproof routes to growth,” concludes Vine. “I’m constantly reminded of the wisdom of the old saying: ‘The more you learn, the less you know.’ All we can do is take our best shot based on equal degrees of experience and intuition.”

About the Author
Charlotte Mills Seligman is president of Traversant Marketing Communications. Formerly Marchand Marketing, the firm specializes in the printing and allied graphic arts industries, bringing nearly two decades of experience to its work for clients. For more information, call (415) 357-2929 or visit Traversant on-line at

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