Printer Panel at PRIMIR Summer Meeting Explores Rapidly Changing Environment
The first day of the PRIMIR 2017 Summer Meeting, taking place from June 19-21 in Philadelphia, came to a close after a day of lively discussions, an in-depth review of a new study and a night of networking at a reception held nearby at NAPCO Media's headquarters (parent company of Printing Impressions).
After a brief introduction by PRIMIR Chair Rick Mullen, Thayer Long, president of NPES, took the floor to discuss the future of the association. He took a moment to recognize the contributions of longtime NPES executive and past president of PRIMIR, Kip Smythe, who recently passed away, before discussing NPES' mission to "grow by leading and convening in the industry."
Following Long's update on NPES, David Zwang, principal consultant of Zwang & Co., launched into a presentation of the new PRIMIR study "North American MIS/ERP Adoption in Commercial Printing," which explored the features of MIS/ERP solutions, their capabilities, drawbacks, adoption rates and how commercial printers are integrating the technology into their workflow.
PRIMIR Print Industry 'Speak Out' Session
The final session of the day was a local printer panel moderated by Mark Subers, president/CRO of the Printing & Packaging and Publishing Group at NAPCO Media. Panelists included Alan Gardner, president of Growth, Inc.; Lori Norcross, president of Cortineo Creative; Joe Olivo, president of Perfect Communications; Scott Reighard, COO of The Standard Group; and Helene Rubin, president of Bartash Printing.
To start off the discussion, the panel agreed that industry consolidation will continue among printers, but Rubin pointed out that consolidation can lead to the opportunity to "super serve niche markets." Sometimes printers may believe it's necessary to move into as many different vertical markets as possible, but Olivo suggested diversifying without spreading one's business too thin. Reighard continued with the analogy of department stores versus specialty stores: sometimes offering too many products or services can lessen the quality of the product, but focusing on a single specialization can limit a company's reach.
When asked how OEMs can assist with non-print business strategies/tactics, Reighard pointed out that clients' wants and needs are being driven by companies such as Amazon, and that printing companies need to evolve old business models and shift how they're reaching customers.
"The product [print] is mature," he said, "but how you procure the product will evolve."
One aspect of the discussion that all the panelists agreed upon fervently was the need for more resources from OEMs to educate customers on various capabilities and techniques. Some of the tips that the panelists agreed on were:
- More Samples: Provide a printer more than one sample to show customers: swatch books, brochures, etc.
- In-Depth Case Studies: Provide ample case studies exploring different perspectives, including those for different size printers; corporations; vertical- and industry-specific studies; in-depth technology explanations for salespeople; and case studies catering to print buyers and specifiers (such as graphic designers).
Rubin summed the topic up by saying that case studies, brochures and other resources can all help printers to "evangelize" a product or service more thoroughly to existing customers and prospects.
The panelists also addressed the best resources where they get ideas for what technology and capabilities to add next; answers ranged from trade shows and trade publications, to customers, internal employees, peer-to-peer networking and even Google.
On the topic of Big Data, Gardner cited personalization capabilities as an opportunity for printers in general, and Reighard pointed out that data needs to be used effectively and that variable data doesn't mean just printing an address on a printed piece. In terms of print demand, Olivo explained that customers sometimes cut print from their marketing budgets because they don't understand the benefits of print media. It's a matter of finding the right clients and working with them to educate them, he said.
The final question of the evening was to explore the technologies that each panelist believes warrants their investment in the future. Reighard started off the discussion by immediately citing UV and LED-UV curing technology because "it's about speed to market." He also explained the importance of reducing press downtime between jobs, rather than just focusing on fast press speeds, as well as understanding lean manufacturing best practices. Gardner said growth for his all-digital shop will be adding more wide-format equipment, while Norcross said Cortineo will explore more digital technology. Rubin said increasing efficiencies is key when considering investments, otherwise the investment would not be worth it from a business standpoint.
The evening concluded with a reception at the NAPCO Media headquarters, which facilitated a healthy mix of networking among PRIMIR members, as well as NPES and Printing Impressions staff.