The Best Places in the United States for Printing Companies to be Located Are…

The U.S. geographical center for print supply is in Blue Island, IL.

Marc Lochow, owner of PrintSource Plus, is based in Blue Island, IL, now the U.S. geographical center for print supply.

The Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metopolitan standard area (MSA) is the most underserved in the United States and the several other MSAs are in the minors with Tulsa ranked #20.

Professional printing is easily compared with professional baseball. Teams and ballparks, similar to printing plants, are built or acquired most anywhere with little economic rationality and no marketing plan. Sooner than later, the “field of dreams” turns into a nightmare due to “unanticipated negative downturns.” Executive incompetence and facilities mismanagement are never cited, just as the community investment bonds and tax credits are almost never paid back.

It seems we are all in the wrong places, and we can’t blame the Internet, smart tablets or Benjamin Franklin. The cause is our relatives three generations ago. So-called family photo-lithography businesses sprouted up in the “old neighborhoods” of the then booming 1940s Great Lakes and Northeast.

Click on the PDF to the left to view a chart of the 2014 underserved/overserved print markets by demand-to-supply in the United States.

So did the Cleveland Browns, Wilmington Blue Rocks and Lancaster Red Roses. The difference was that when the fans moved away, the teams also walked (or struck out.) Our stubborn families, who exalted the “craft” above commerce, stayed put, increasingly employing relatives and friends who by then couldn’t find real jobs for the same reasons of local economic decline and irrelevance.

The effect is that we grossly over-serve 249 of the nation’s 381 metropolitan areas, while ignoring the remaining extremely underserved 132. The financial consequences are worse than a rained out series. The average pitch to a customer is hurled 354 miles and, when it hopefully connects, flies or “grounds” 757 miles “out of the park” in an opposite direction! Sales costs pop up by 4 percent more than if in a perfect game, which is mounds more than the average PIA Ratios bottom-line score and, for that matter, tolerable dot-gain. There’s another 5 percent in long-haul freight for which we pay, directly or indirectly, with a full-count opportunity cost: Shipping dissuades buyers from future orders unless we care to take the hit in the next inning.

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