Top 30 Book Manufacturers — The Plot Thickens
BB: What challenges is your company facing these days, and how are you responding?
CLARKE: If we look at a consistent trend, it's supply chain management--on the publisher's side--to...make sure that if they get a hot [book], they can have books at the right spot at the right time to maximize every sale. [Supply chain management] also helps to minimize overprinting, which leads to returns. That philosophy has been embraced universally. So the challenge for us is that there's a fixed amount of manufacturing time.
You can improve that with new equipment, and the investment that we've made in our platform as a company has really been geared for that. We've invested more than a billion dollars [company-wide] over the last three years.
With the wide-format presses and the very efficient makeready presses, you have the ability to do both. When you have a high-page-count, high-quantity book, you're able to get the presses and crank out a lot of books. And, at the same time, when there's a valley in between those huge best-sellers, there's an opportunity to use these very efficient makeready presses to do the short runs. And I think that's been the collective challenge for both the publishing and the print communities.
GREGOIRE: Mergers and acquisitions. Everyone is buying everybody out, so it seems as though there are less and less customers out there.
MCFARLAND: The rapid changes in technology challenge us to explore all options before investing in new equipment to ensure we can meet our customers' demands, as well as future needs. Discussions with our customers regarding their business strategies and issues are the basis for assessing the capabilities of new equipment and processes. In addition, when financing purchases, we explore various options because of the rapid pace of obsolescence.
KREHBIEL: We are finding that there is a shortage of skilled workers in the industry, so we train in-house whenever possible. Also, we're faced with price pressures from both domestic and foreign sources and, as a result, we are creating a lean budget and automating some of our equipment and our IT system.