The One Constant Is Constant Change
Let's not lose sight of the fact that almost all businesses are struggling in these tough times, not just those in the printing industry. Companies, across the board, have been hunkering down, reducing head counts, increasing efficiencies and curtailing capital investments. Buyers, of all types, are asking their vendors to sharpen their pencils while still maintaining superior service—often at commodity price levels. And concern over terrorism is leading American consumers to avoid international travel, to spend less and to become more wary of other cultures.
But, as our latest war in Iraq has taught us, good eventually conquers evil. Democracy wins over tyranny. Economic cycles eventually turn for the better. And change, both good and bad, is one constant that we can always count on.
Take RR Donnelley—this issue's cover story—for example. With 30,000 employees working in 45 facilities, this 138-year-old commercial printing industry stalwart is not resting on past laurels. It is in the midst of a transformation and cultural shift that began several years ago. Customer service models are being rewritten. Salespeople are being transitioned from traditional roles to that of business consultants. Continuous improvement methodologies have replaced antiquated production techniques. Equipment upgrades, once implemented primarily to increase capacity, now drive greater efficiency. Digital, standardized workflows replace analog, proprietary systems.
Or take the changes afoot within some of our most important industry associations. Be sure to read the question-and-answer article conducted with recently named Printing Industries of America President and CEO Michael Makin. On a similar note, the annual meeting of the Web Offset Association, being held this month in Nashville, marks the end of an era for its retiring executive director, Tom Basore, who so admirably led this organization that annually brings together executives from large web offset printing companies. Perhaps in Basore's most crowning glory, featured speakers at this year's conference include George H.W. and Barbara Bush.