Blogs

Are We Ready to Proceed?

"I may not know everything, but I know what I like." We base many personal decisions on this bit of homespun wisdom, and more often than not, it leads us to the right choice. It’s also not a bad starting point for a preliminary review of printing companies identified as candidates for acquisition.

Six Barriers Preventing Companies from Winning

In the hundreds of companies that we have studied at Butler Street, along with the analysis from our research division, we have found some common themes in companies that struggle to win. If your company allows any of the following situations to happen, it may well be what’s preventing you from winning and will certainly be what will prevent you from winning in the future.

Will Prospects Buy After Visiting Your Website?

Do you have the right message on your website? Does your website provide an engaging reason for prospects to take things further? Will they understand what you can do to help their business? Will they learn what results you have achieved for similar clients? Do you explain what sets you apart from the competition? If so, congratulations! Your website homepage is amongst an elite minority!

Other Staff Bloggers
Business Management

"I may not know everything, but I know what I like." We base many personal decisions on this bit of homespun wisdom, and more often than not, it leads us to the right choice. It’s also not a bad starting point for a preliminary review of printing companies identified as candidates for acquisition.

In the hundreds of companies that we have studied at Butler Street, along with the analysis from our research division, we have found some common themes in companies that struggle to win. If your company allows any of the following situations to happen, it may well be what’s preventing you from winning and will certainly be what will prevent you from winning in the future.

Do you have the right message on your website? Does your website provide an engaging reason for prospects to take things further? Will they understand what you can do to help their business? Will they learn what results you have achieved for similar clients? Do you explain what sets you apart from the competition? If so, congratulations! Your website homepage is amongst an elite minority!

Finishing

You can produce short-run, hardcover orders in-house, and with great quality.

Hunkeler Innovationdays are approaching. Over the years, this biannual event has steadily grown until it has become a "must" for companies seeking out the latest in digital finishing technology. And for book printers, this is a chance to see the "best of the best" finishing technology for their workflow.

All too often, I see salespeople waiting for someone else to check, analyze, review or inspect their work. What’s this all about? Do you really need someone else to watch over you to inform you that your pipeline is more like a pipe dream?

Software

Ricoh announced on January 18th that they had taken their strategic investment into Avanti Computer Systems to the next step by acquiring the company. The acquisition is not a surprise for those that have been watching the workflow story develop at Ricoh.

There are still a few more items in the Workflow Quiz to work through before we can say that every stone has been turned over in the quest for optimization and documentation. In this segment it’s time to look at what processes you have that might qualify as islands of automation that should be linked together.

Touch points are the discrete processes required to move a job through the workflow.

Digital Printing - Production Inkjet

Maybe it was the mountain air. But seeing cool technology for print and direct mail can leave you a little breathless.

I’d already been briefed on a lot of drupa 2016 news before I left home so I wasn’t really expecting much to surprise me. I was wrong.

After digesting a week of meetings at drupa 2016 along with plenty of good German food and beer, the InfoTrends analyst team believes the show can be characterized by five major themes. Those are Inkjet 3.0, Digital Printing of Packaging, B1 Digital, Special Effects and Industry 4.0.

Offset Printing

We were in Japan last month, and as luck would have it, we were there at the same time that Komori held an open house to showcase its newest digital print solutions. This international event took place at Komori’s facility in Tsukuba, Japan, and drew hundreds of attendees from all over the Asia Pacific region. It also provided the opportunity to showcase its Impremia IS29, a B2-format, sheetfed, UV inkjet printer.

In a sense, Berlin Industries was once the king of Chicago. Last week, the remaining assets were auctioned off. If you were there, you could have purchased a Heidelberg Sunday M3000 five-unit web press for a mere $47,000.

The 150 VIP attendees at Heidelberg’s recent President’s event witnessed a mix of high and low energy. The “high” was a kickoff tribute dinner for former president Jim Dunn; the “low” was an educational program focusing on low-energy UV printing.

Consumables - Paper

A multi-country survey on "The Attractiveness and Sustainability of Print and Paper" was conducted in June 2016 by global polling firm Toluna Inc. and showed some positive results on how people perceive and use print and paper. In general, there was a preference for print on paper across all age groups, likely indicating a more fundamental and more human way that people react to the physicality of print on paper.

Back in 2014, Microsoft struck a deal to supply the NFL with Surface tablets as a coaching tool. I am sure it has many benefits …

Several suppliers announced last week the first round of price increases on magazine-quality paper in more than a year.

Mergers and Acquisitions

It looked like a good fit. The seller, unfortunately, didn’t see it that way.

As a trade association president, I knew that one of my most important jobs was to offer our members a friendly, well informed, third-party perspective on strategic business issues. Today, our New Direction Partners clients want the same thing: not just information about the mechanics of M&As, but also a genuine understanding of the industry and the mindsets of the people who own those companies.

For many years, I had the privilege of serving in leadership positions with Printing Industries of New England (PINE), the largest printing trade association in the Northeast. Then as now, I was greatly impressed by the resiliency of our members and their ability to adapt to changing business circumstances.

Digital Printing - Wide Format

It’s no surprise to see wide-format shops attracting their fair share of attention in the M&A marketplace. We’ve represented a number of them as sellers in transactions this year, and they make an interesting contrast with our commercial printing and packaging clients.

No one predicted that wide-format inkjet would open a new market for printers for signage, vehicle wraps, building wraps, back drops, and more. Go back and look. The first wide-format printers were introduced as proofers for color printing. As Benny Landa has said: anything that can go digital will go digital. That is why the growth markets are packaging and new media — and by media I mean new substrates.

On July 1st, EFI made two announcements: One was the acquisition of the Israeli Matan Digital Printer, and the second was the acquisition of Reggiani Macchine. Both acquisitions are part of EFI’s stated strategy to invest and grow its product portfolio in adjacent markets and technologies.

Binding

Hardcover book production seemed to be under serious threat not too many years ago.

The manufacture of hard-cover books has never been more advanced or accessible for the average printer.

We see tons of packaging in retail every day, but luxury packaging is a different breed.

Training and Education

Last week I went to Boca Raton, Fla., for the 2016 thINK Conference. The sessions that I attended were well done and thought provoking.

Graph Expo’s first visit to Orlando can be considered a qualified success.

Coming on the heels of drupa, Graph Expo will be a great opportunity to see some of the latest product announcements made at drupa.

Mailing/Fulfillment

In 2016, mailing list gaffes simply shouldn’t happen. But one might have cost the University of Michigan a prized football recruit.

Households with incomes above $100,000 receive three times as many periodicals as households earning less than $35,000.

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Japs-Olson of Minneapolis—a printer that can trace its roots all the way back to 1907! Japs-Olson embodies the lean manufacturing approach to today's direct mail. What I saw was a "holistic" integrated process. Japs-Olson is capable of sending more than four million pieces a day into the USPS mail stream. To do this efficiently, you need critical thinking to be applied at every stage of the process.

Consumables - General

Quick! Name two consumables that are indispensable to operation in the bindery. If you named adhesives as one, you'd be on the mark. But...if you included knives, (yes, they are a consumable), you would be quite savvy. Cutting and trimming are part of almost every finishing operation. And the quality of those cuts are essential to the quality of the finished product.

Adhesives are widely used in finishing, this includes perfect binding, folding, mailing, and folding carton applications. And coatings and various chemical solutions are used in the digital print process to both enhance image quality and make the paper more "finishing-friendly." Both chemistry and environmental control have a lot to do with systems performance.

Digital printing has thrown a curve at both coating and film systems manufacturers due to the surface properties of many toner printed pieces. These make it difficult for many films and coatings to properly adhere to the substrate.

Digital Printing - Toner

Steve Johnson, founder and owner of Copresco, is a bit of a legend in the digital book business.

It was around Valentine’s Day when a red-striped promotional piece captured my paper lover’s attention within a millisecond. GLS, a single-source marketing services provider based in Minnesota, used CMYK and a triple hit of white to produce a beautiful striped pattern and ribbon effect. But it was the striking look and velvety feel of some of the hearts and stripes in the design that left me weak in the knees.

Interactive Print

Advertising media, interactive displays, product labeling and packaging, security—all are perfect playgrounds for NFC technology. Yes, some of the marketing applications are similar to QR codes, but without the ugly square that has been driving design-minded folks crazy for years.

Some marketers want to use technology whether it makes sense—and thus provides a good user experience—or not. A good user experience takes work. Lots of work. It has to be planned and executed well.

If you had a chance to read my last QR code rant, brace yourself—QR codes are not the culprit here. On further investigation, the problem turns out to be us (or our clients). An experience at a new Indian restaurant caused me to scan the QR code on their cups, which only led to their Website. BORING.

Consumables - Ink

The fifth housing station in the upgraded Xerox 800i/1000i series can now also deliver metallic inks: gold and silver.

Color/Quality Control

Whether it's uncoated, coated, gloss or matte, every sheet reacts differently on-press. That’s the reason why our industry has developed sets of guidelines and recommendations to help print buyers, designers, and specifiers work more effectively with their print suppliers.

A new Pantone book is not only there in case your issue has faded or to update you on the new colors Pantone has added...Pantone reserves the right to adjust some of your tried-and-true colors from year to year. I learned this the hard way on a press check a few years ago when my printer’s PMS 362 did not match mine.

Sabine’s out-of-town client, a very sophisticated direct marketing agency, had examined the press okay process, jettisoned accepted assumptions, and along the way demolished the model entirely. Air travel, hotels, loupe, D50 lighting, heck, even dots. Who needs any of it?

Digital Printing - Digital Offset

A young designer I spoke to the other day was very frank about the fact that she did not like digital printing because you could only print on white paper. Granted there are some print providers that prefer to print on white coated stock all day long (digital or offset, it does not matter to them). And these few give our whole industry a bad reputation.

Data Management

Last week, I attended a customer relationship marketing conference for retailers, by retailers. I have to say that I barely made it through the conference without spontaneously combusting from the speed of change in the retail marketing sector.