Printing Impressions

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President of Semper International

Printblogalooza

By Brian Regan

About Brian

Brian Regan, President of Semper International, was born with ink in his veins, running everything in his family’s small printing company from prepress to finishing. Brian helped finance his degree from the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles and his struggling music career by running a printing press, ultimately becoming a pressroom supervisor.
 
In 1996, he joined PressTemps (Then PrintStaff now Semper International, the leading placement firm for temporary, temp-to-hire and direct hire help in the graphic arts and printing industry), overseeing West Coast operations. Brian moved to Boston as Chief Operating Officer managing the recruitment process, overseeing hiring and training, skills testing, and conducting statistical analyses to measure success. He also helps manage the company’s sister company, Printworkers.com, the industry’s leading job board.

Brian has been a speaker and contributor on the subject of staffing challenges facing the graphic arts industry. Parlaying his interest and intuitive learning skills developed from video games, he is also a member of the Video Game Association, actively consulting firms in the business merits of using the Virtual Worlds for business and training as well as other Social Media tools such as Twitter and FaceBook.

 

Survey Says

 
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First, I wanted to thank you for your amazing response. We have been running this survey for many years now and the participation level form this survey was outstanding. We decided to professionalize the process by using the Cvent Survey Technology, which from your participation level, you approve of. We hope the new format and results will really add value for your time. Over the next several quarters we will be able to provide some rather amazing new ways of looking at the data. As we introduce the new perspectives on the data, we will give a brief contextual description of the view.

For now, lets get right to the results!

The last quarter of 2009 was a bit better than the three previous quarters in a number of ways. However, the number of companies that have closed or merged has become alarming. Clearly, even some of the strongest names are being impacted depending on the level of debt and the strength of their balance sheets going into this downturn. Hopefully the last quarter’s GDP "gain" holds and builds into the first half of this New Year. For profitability, the results indicate 47.53% had profit slightly better then the previous survey. We would hope with all the stimulus this number would have improved.

Semper Chart 1
 
Regarding the question that deals with finding employees, understandably the need for finding workers has been reduced, but can still be a concern. This question was revamped by adding in Social Media as a category. It is interesting to point out the difference in response from this survey to last. Clearly, the use of online methods to finding workers is increasing in importance.

How has business been over the last few weeks? This question may help shed some light on this coming quarter’s profitability. Looking at the results: 23.89% had an increase, 39.82% stayed the same and 36.28% showing a decrease in sales. Comparing to the previous survey, the percent of companies with sales decreases stayed roughly the same. Improvement came from those that had indicated they had stayed the same the previous quarter.
 
Semper Chart 2

The next question takes a bit longer view into the quarter, looking at the future orders book. Your feeling about overall sales in the first quarter as a whole reflects a strong positive outlook with 81% indicating either staying the same or improving sales to be expected! We certainly hope this optimism holds true.
 
Semper Chart 3

A new question added this survey asks you to identify your firm by revenue on a yearly basis. This question will be able to help us illustrate segments of each question. For example, are large companies hiring vs. smaller firms?

With the continued debate on healthcare nationally and locally, coupled with the election to the Senate of Scott Brown, the question addressing highest labor costs focuses again on healthcare concerns. A full 60% indicate being concerned.
 
Semper Chart 4

When we asked what area of revenue was under the most pressure, Offset is still high but increases from 46% to 55% of the total. Seems that for the last six quarters this area has been under significant duress pricing wise.
 
The last area I would bring up from the questionnaire regards the “are you hiring?” question. Clearly, the pressure is still on in our industry and if you drive through the towns or walk through the malls of America, most other industries are as well. The responding firms all indicate a willingness to try and hold on to their current labor force and ride out this downturn with 63% staying the same and the remainder spilt between laying off and hiring.
 
Semper Chart 5

A company is it's people and trying to protect them clearly is important. It is also important to make sure that the strategic goals of a company lead it to a place that as quickly as possible allows it to strengthen it's balance sheet and survive. The need for the DEMAND to change is clear. The smart will listen and experiment with adapting and finding the right model. If ever there was a time to start experimenting, now is it.

Download the entire Questionnaire results here. If you have questions or would like to see additional areas explored please let me know. If you wish to be added to the survey, please email daver@semperllc.com.

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