This One's for Ladies Only --DeWese
I already know that my seminar participants will be 100 percent female. My topic: "All you ever wanted to know about the printing industry, but were afraid to ask."
Here's what I'm going to tell the participants.
I will begin by telling the women that the printing industry is the fourth largest manufacturing industry in America, but is about 89th in terms of profitability. I will then point out that more than 95 percent of the industry leaders are men so it would appear that the boys have dropped the ball.
I will go on to note that the industry has many inherently negative characteristics. Which makes one wonder why men chose to enter this business in the first place?
The industry is also highly fragmented, which means there are many small firms competing with one another—in fact, about 40,000 nationwide. There are so many companies that no one has found a way to count them exactly.
You might ask, "Why is that so bad? There are tens of thousands of privately owned gas stations." The gas stations are all "branded" by the oil companies and tracked on computers. Oil companies, for example, know to the ounce how much gasoline they sold. No one knows, to the penny, how much printing was actually sold in 2002.
So, because printing is a fragmented industry, there is very poor statistical information about the performance of the industry.
Fragmented industries also have low barriers to entry. This means that any printing salesman or pressman who gets fed up with his employer—able to scrape up a few bucks and get financing for a press—can start a printing company. Small companies in fragmented industries are also usually at the mercy of their customers and their suppliers.
This has happened in several of the printing industry segments, the most notable being the largest segment: general commercial printing. Pizza shops are a fragmented industry, but customers can't go in and negotiate the price of a large pepperoni or get the proprietor to throw in free anchovies.