I was enjoying my pastitcio when the conversation turned to Sterling Premium, as it seems to more often than I’d like. In the company of good folks at our local Greek eatery, things had been just fine until that point. I was smothering everything in sight with as many lemons as I could get my hands on, and I’d have been content to discuss anything under the sun. But they wanted to talk Sterling Premium.
And here we are again with a little hope. The package business is growing at double digits, retailers are competing on service, and the USPS wants to grab a share of the game. It could even be the right business decision to make, but I’m tasked with offering the perspective of the printer, and here it is.
Even after its third bankruptcy and subsequent takeover by Quad, Vertis continues as the model of margin compression and value destruction we all wish would go away. It has a ghost of the past, a ghost of the present, and it’s sure to have a ghost of the future.
The world has been buzzing about the R.R. Donnelley acquisition of Consolidated Graphics, but is it more likely that they met on adultfriendfinder than eHarmony?
Do we need six-day delivery? Do we need five? I’m not sure, but I AM sure that we do need a USPS system—including rates—that are economically sustainable and predictable. In that scenario, we lose the uncertainty; we and our mailing customers can finally make reasonable and credible projections of business volume and cash flows.
On Sunday, I spent my day touring the exhibit hall of McCormick Place. It had been a couple of years since I did this, so I really took a fresh look at the landscape. What I saw really blew my mind.
Each week we’re swept around by factors well beyond our control. While there are certain steps we can take to hedge our bets or mitigate our risks, we remain an industry susceptible to many threats from all sides.
Am I so biased by print’s tangibility that my disdain for online advertising clouds my judgment? I’m not sure, but knowing that I’ve rarely received any feedback on the digital ads our company has run has always made me wonder what’s really going on.
As a 32-year-old planning on living and working for some time, I’ve naturally developed a healthy fear of being replaced by a robot. There must be some technical term for this, but I have not found it. I’d much rather make use of the robots, than be replaced by one.
Why are people so willing to issue debt in our industry, at such low rates, with such flimsy justification, and with such an awful track record? The premium for distressed assets is down to around 5 percent, close to a historical low. There is a LOT of dumb money, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any smarter.
At the University of Chicago Booth School of Business’ Management Conference last week, I had the pleasure of attending one more lecture by James Schrager, clinical professor of entrepreneurship and strategic management. In his lecture, Schrager presented a very simple tool to analyze our business success.
Paper procurement USED to be a strategic function. For printers, it was an opportunity to leverage scale of spend to better serve our customers and in so doing, to beat the competition and convert opportunities into profitable business. I cannot remember a single occasion when I had to turn down an order because I couldn’t get the right paper.
When I hear someone talking about how they're so busy that they had to neglect a task, I suspect the issue simply isn’t a priority for them. Business (busy-ness) is a false pretense that gives cover to someone who doesn’t feel comfortable telling you the truth.
Understanding others’ decisions often starts with empathy—understanding their goals, priorities, and the internal mechanism for evaluating how likely options are to achieve those goals. You also need to look at their range of choices, consider what happens in the absence of a decision, and think about whether they’re looking for the perfect solution or simply one that will suffice.
In print, experts look not just to leaders like Joel Quadracci or Thomas Quinlan III, but also to leaders in other fields like Jamie Dimon and Eric Schmidt. Experts look beyond today and look beyond our industry, to develop a vision for what lies beyond.