Commercial Printing--Slowdown Slated for '99?
"We're hoping for continued growth. We've actually doubled our number of plants; we want to first make sure we have everything under control," Strong remarks. "But you never know what the opportunities are."
Some have expressed caution, although not merely bottom line-driven caveats. Al Dutcher, vice president of sales development for Carlson Craft, in North Mankato, MN, doesn't believe that technology is benefitting printers presently.
"Emerging technologies, like receiving orders on disk and working with digital presses, aren't paying off for printers yet," he says. "They're on the back side of the learning curve. I don't know that everyone has learned to harness the new technologies."
Dutcher is also concerned about the rippling effect the Asian economy will have on U.S. printers."It will be a belt-tightening year from the perspective of suppliers," Dutcher remarks. "We'll have to get the most out of our machinery and people—just reaching productivity on all sides. I really don't think companies will be as aggressive as they have been in the past. They'll take the conservative approach."
Likewise, Brad Schreier, president and COO of Taylor Corp., also in North Mankato, MN, is not 100 percent sold on the value of some technologies.
"All printers are facing the challenges of keeping pace with technology," Schreier says. "At the same time, printers must exercise common sense and good judgment to determine which of the technology advances really provide added value to the customer and to the production process—and which are really just bells and whistles."
Price pressure on printers from customers will continue to be a factor in 1999, according to Schreier. "Innovative printers will find new ways to serve their current customer base, as well as open up new markets/customers," he notes. "This has always been a highly competitive business and I don't see that changing one way or another."