PADGETT PRINTING — DESTINATION: DIGITAL
Don’t tell David Torok that the world of commercial printing isn’t viewed as a commodity. The president of Dallas-based Padgett Printing is all too aware of the perception given to an industry once known as a craft, sprinkled profusely with seasoned craftsmen, all but eroded by bottom-line pricing, reverse auctions and print buyers willing to forego longstanding relationships with trusted print providers.
Instead of crying in their collators, companies such as Padgett Printing have survived, and even thrived, by accentuating their offerings with value-added services and variable data digital printing solutions. The digital end has only strengthened Padgett’s position with traditional sheetfed and web printing, allowing the printer to sell deeper with existing clients who have multiple platform needs.
And while digital output accounts for only about 10 percent of Padgett’s business, Torok cannot imagine life without it.
“In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the print buyers have their stable of printers,” he says. “Within that stable, they have qualified all that can meet their quality and service needs. As a result, the issue comes down to who has the lowest price on that particular date.
“The press manufacturers have implemented technology to level the playing field. And the consistency and quality of raw materials—whether paper, ink or plates—have gotten much better. Craftsmanship skills are no longer crucial to get the desired results. In combination, you have all the makings of printing becoming more of a commodity.”
Department Store Past
Established in 1903 on a piece of property where a Neiman Marcus store now stands, Padgett Printing enjoyed a rebirth in 1998. Torok and his management team noted a trend toward shrinking run sizes, the onset of the personalization revolution, digitalization and, of course, commoditization. That led to the installation of an Agfa Chromapress.
Having a digital color solution was paramount, and Torok believed it could help net “five or six customers a month, each providing $30,000 to $50,000 in business rather than having 800 jobs that were worth $130 each.”