Printers Are Big Fat Liars!

I am the owner of a printing company, so I can tell you (used to hear it a lot)—PRINTERS ARE BIG FAT LIARS…

  • about quality,
  • about service,
  • about delivery dates,
  • and to cover up mistakes!

Now that I’ve got the hair standing up on the back of your neck—let me tell you a story.

Many years ago, when I was a very young apprentice, I worked for a printer in the bayou country of Louisiana. Small shop, about 10 employees, and one of the last letterpress shops in our town.

The owner was a good man—one of the hardest working people I had ever met. But, it seemed like we were always late printing and delivering orders. When jobs ran way behind schedule, and customers would call to find out if their job was ready, my boss would give them every excuse in the book. Many times he would come to me in a panic, saying, “Philip, get off that HOT job and get on this HOT HOT job!”

One day, he called me into his office and asked me to get on the phone with an irate customer, wanting me to stall the customer somehow about his job being delayed again. I was just young and dumb enough to go along with it, and concocted some elaborate (actually, lame) excuse to give the customer, while smiling at my boss like a Cheshire cat.

After I hung up the phone, my boss was also grinning and said, “Philip, you’re a better liar than me!”

Now, I’m not saying my boss didn’t care. In fact, I guess he tried harder than anybody to do his best for his family, his employees and his customers. He just didn’t know anything about the power of good business systems, nor was he trained in anything like Total Quality Management (continual improvement in every area of a business). He was just a hard-working man who had worked his way up from Linotype operator to owning his own shop—still putting in 12 hours a day, six days a week, and sometimes Sundays. Sound familiar?

Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
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  • Richard Burnham

    Congratulations on Speaking out. When I owned a pre-press operation, I cannot tell you how many times that I had to defend myself. Even though I could proove my films and proofs were correct, Ink companies were producing inconsistent and poor quality inks — which they constantly tried to cover up their problems & lack of a quality product..
    Today, now that I am a digital printer , our competition says that they produce quality, but with our color pre-press background, they do not come close. Our clients know our quality, consistency and affordable prices, but in today’s market, we find it difficult to fight the BS that some button pusher has told others.

  • Jim Olsen

    How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them.

    Benjamin Franklin

  • Pradeep Sawant

    I truly agree with you. We as a breed need to be the changing face of this industry. Thanks to our previous market leaders, we have been branded as Big Fat Liars. I blame the client and the vendor on a 50-50 ratio, because all vendors come with early commitments and all printers believe that they can match the deadline. After all these years in the print communication industry – I have learnt to say NO – to wrong commitments, No – false promises.

  • paulgs

    great story! when I was in print sales, my jobs were the HOT jobs and my boss’ jobs, the lead sales person and owner, his jobs were the HOT HOT jobs — so mine always were in jeopardy of being late.

  • HiistoryMan

    Before the industry got saturated with opportunists owners, the trade was well respected and print communication grew.