Against the Grain

A third-generation printer, Dustin LeFebvre delivers his vision for Specialty Print Communications as EVP, Marketing through strategy, planning and new product development. With a rich background ranging from sales and marketing to operations, quality control and procurement, Dustin takes a wide-angle approach to SPC

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.

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.

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