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Value-Added Services -- Banking on Binding

March 2003
by chris bauer


With the economy stubbornly refusing to shift back to the economically favorable gear of a few years ago, commercial printers continue to search for ways to make a buck. One opportunity many printers have found is to provide more ancillary services, including expanded finishing options.

According to recent data from the Printing Industries of America (PIA) and the Graphic Arts Marketing Information Service (GAMIS), the current competitive business climate has forced many operations to diversify and adopt new products and services to remain profitable. As such, respondents to the PIA/GAMIS survey reported that nearly $1 out of every $7 earned by these printers is created in the bindery/finishing department.

These figures are no surprise to commercial printers offering full bindery services.

"Value-added services and all ancillary additions to a basic printing project can represent a positive profit center for commercial printers," advises Lucia Panini, market research analyst and corporate public relations manager for Santa Clara, CA-based Citation Press. "However, cost consciousness on the part of end users also forces printers to curb their margins and to avoid hefty charges for additional services."

What counts, she says, is value and how it's communicated to and perceived by the customer.

"The bindery is, indeed, becoming a more significant profit center for commercial printers," adds Tom Tran, Citation's president and CEO. "This is true for those printers that look at costs plus a fixed markup (not time and material). Handling bindery work in-house means being able to control quality, turnaround times and direct costs. Not to mention being able to streamline production start-to-end, passing efficiencies and cost savings on to the customer."

Dave Stump, president of New Washington, OH-based Herald Printing, agrees. "The bindery has always been a profit center for Herald," Stump pronounces. "We have always had a full bindery operation. It's always been a strong portion of what we are. I look at every department as being a value-added profit center."

While Herald Printing offers a wide array of binding and finishing services, such as cutting, folding, drilling, saddle stitching and gluing, Stump points to one technique that is really in-demand with his customers.

"Spiral and Double-O wire binding are both popular right now," Stump notes. "That seems to be the binding method that customers now want for elite pieces."

Stump explains that clients like the look of spiral-bound books, and find them more practical than some other binding possibilities. "It's just a different look—it's not a saddle stitched look," Stump contends. "It makes it a unique piece that stands out when it comes in the mail and, when it lays on your desk, it is an eye-catcher."
 

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