Like Dust in the Wind

Ah, the life of a printer! There are so many variables around us that sometimes it seems like we’re that feather from Forrest Gump, subject to forces much stronger than we are.

I’m referring to massive forces such as disruptive technologies that change consumers’ habits by replacing paper with LCD screens, government gridlock that prevents postal reform from taking form or effect, new intermediaries that take advantage of our fragmented industry and its high fixed costs to extract surplus for themselves, and the always popular paper prices.

Each week, I seem to run into many of these issues head on. On Friday, I received an e-mail from the Dean of the Booth School informing students that going forward, course packs would be delivered electronically rather than in paper form. I can’t say it was a surprise, nor am I upset about saving $250 per quarter. I guess another one bites the dust. Kids these days take electronic notes, and storage and search of reference materials will be a lot easier with digital documents. In this case, what’s good for students, and good for the institution, and arguably good for the environment, clearly isn’t good for printers. Anyone care to make a value judgment on that?

In my Entrepreneurial Finance & Private Equity class on Saturday, we hopped into the time machine back to 2008 and analyzed the prospect of taking InnerWorkings private. We first determined the price we would have to pay based upon the comparables of the day. My classmates were having trouble figuring out why the 8.8X EBITDA price was only .51X the last 12 months of revenue, and why EBITDA margins were so low. I bit my lip and kept my mouth shut; I knew too much. It was a bit “Heart of Darkness,” and I think I saw my own id. I’ll be happy to move onto a new project this week.

A third-generation printer, Dustin LeFebvre delivers his vision for Specialty Print Communications as EVP, Marketing through strategy, planning and new product development. With a rich background ranging from sales and marketing to operations, quality control and procurement, Dustin takes a wide-angle approach to SPC

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  • Christopher Jackson

    As a printer, we can never lose against technology. Some things will remain old school! How many billions of companies out there are placing their print order as we type? We all do books, magazines, catalogs, brochures and the non stop flyer and card runs and come year end each and every single year if we have played our cards right from the beginning, we smile as we reap the benefits of calendar and diary season.Keep on doing what you love and everything will work out…