Are China and other international print suppliers a threat to US printers?

Last November, I was invited to China by PrintBestBuy, a print management company that represents large Chinese printing companies. I toured about eight printing companies and met with many more printers during conferences held in three cities. I learned a lot. China is on the super-fast track in capitalism. The printing plants I toured were extremely impressive in plant size, tremendous amounts of affordable labor, cutting-edge technology and excellent print quality. Most of these companies have specialized in err, well, specialty printing – hand work, holograms, complex foil stamping, etc. They’ve got it goin’ on in many ways.

Perhaps the fact that I’m even mentioning that I went to China may make some of you determine that I’m the enemy. But hold on – I’d consider myself Switzerland on the topic of whether U.S. print buyers should ever consider buying from printers outside the U.S. It may be appropriate for some companies, such as a large pharmaceutical company that is producing and selling their goods in Asia, to work with international suppliers. It may be totally inappropriate for another buying company.

The research that I’ve conducted on Print Buyers shows that most print buyers aren’t interested in buying from printers outside the U.S. One obvious deterrent is turnaround time. And overall, the Chinese have not yet developed customer service to the level that will appeal to American buyers.

What I’m curious about is whether U.S. printers feel that China or other international print suppliers are a threat. Some printers feel that there is a great opportunity to partner with foreign suppliers. Some printers feel that it’s just one more way that China is taking jobs away from us.

Print suppliers and representatives: What are your thoughts? Print buyers feel free to weigh in on the issue too!

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  • http://EricVogt Eric Vogt

    China is definitely a force to be reckoned with. While the manufacturing costs are low, the logitics to move print material leave a lot to be desired and the distribution costs are high and not as reliable.

  • http://MitchSchilkraut Mitch Schilkraut

    Although my size printing co. will not be affected by glogal markets I am very concerned about the changes in the mind set of buyers in general.

    We as a nation must support our own economy if we are to survive. If we are not careful we will wake up one day saying "Nee How".

  • http://Cheryl Cheryl

    A threat?
    (Surely you jest.)
    We’ve already seen what has happen to the US Paper mills. I suspect the next generation will see the same with print.
    I had a potential customer that took the China route, even though he’d miss his due date, just to get a trip to China.
    Another planned enough in advance to cash in on the savings and accepted a slow turn-a-round.
    … What’s this country coming to? Won’t be long until foreign countries own us all.

  • http://Dan Dan

    I am appalled daily when I read/hear of U.S. corps, from mfg to retail and on into after mkt service support, who seem to be aligning their fealty with the dollar instead of The Flag (some may see these as one and the same). If the U.S. is to remain a global leader in commerce, science, tech, and humanity, we will need to keep our business on our shores. Focus on allegiance to America instead of your bank account and the one will take care of the other. Ignore this at all our peril.

  • http://Chris Chris

    Printer’s protestations about work going to China reminds me a lot of the auto makers in the 70’s & 80’S–"Buy American!" That’s worked out well for them, hasn’t it?
    America was made great by pouring hard work, ingenuity and value into the free market system, and now we protest "unfair" when someone is beating us at our own game. Wake up! No one owes us anything. Until we can meet or beat the value of overseas printers, in real cost, quality and/or service ways

  • http://Karen Karen

    Everytime I receive a brochure or salespiece from a Chinese printer, it’s gorgeous. But it’s full of typos and grammatical errors. If they can’t respect our language and say it correctly (or pay for a translation that is correct) then how the heck can you communicate with them effectively on your OWN print work?

  • http://Bill Bill

    China is only a threat if allow them to become one. If you pay attention to the very basics of business, they are not the mighty giant that they appear to be. Concentrate on customer satisfaction and lowering your internal costs. China’s low wages are short lived as they look to outsource to other countries as well. Become valuable to your current customers and they will stay with you, do not give them a reason to shop.