“Industry Convergence” Webinar Examines the Trend in Theory and Practice
There are two ways to document the change being wrought by convergence, the trend that is reshaping the graphic communications industry as print service providers expand beyond their core businesses into new and profitable adjacent activities.
One is to study research by the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) and NAPCO Media that reveals how widely held the industry’s belief in convergence has become.
The other is to get the story straight from printers whose thriving companies are models of the success that convergence makes possible.
Both of these narratives came together in a Printing Impressions webinar about convergence that’s now available online for everyone who wasn’t able to attend the live webcast on January 21. Besides detailing the concept of convergence in theory and practice, the program also set the stage for the trade show event where the opportunities convergence presents will be on full display: PRINTING United, Dallas, Tex., October 22-25, 2019.
One of the most striking features of the trend is the “sense of democratization” it is instilling across the industry, according to Mark J. Subers, President and Chief Revenue Officer of NAPCO Media’s Printing and Packaging Group.
Encouraging democratization are digital solutions that enable PSPs to venture into new applications with confidence, explained Subers, who is also President of the PRINTING United expo (a joint venture of SGIA and NAPCO Media).
Consolidation, the growth of packaging markets, and variable print and personalization are other factors driving cross-segment migration, according to the SGIA-NAPCO Media research, based on input from nearly 500 PSPs. Among its highlights, said Subers, are the following:
- 95% of PSPs surveyed believe there is opportunity for expansion in convergence (a finding that “blew us away,” Subers acknowledged, even though a strong positive response had been expected).
- 93% think that other PSPs are expanding into new segments, with 27% calling the expansion significant.
- Four out of five (81%) believe the pace of expansion will accelerate over the next five years.
There are some “pretty staggering numbers” to be found in the report’s data on where segment migration is likeliest to take place, Subers said. What everything points to, he concluded, is a feeling of optimism among PSPs that the opportunities presented by convergence are real – and within their reach as one-stop providers of all the products and services their customers want to buy.
Speaker David D’Andrea, CEO of D’Andrea Visual Communications, said he realized the time had come to seize some of those opportunities during the recessionary years of 2008-2010, when “a ridiculous amount of work stopped” industrywide and a change of strategy was needed for the litho business he’d started in Cypress, Calif., in 2005.
This prompted his expansion into grand-format output and custom fabrication, a move that led to new markets, higher-margin applications, and the growth of the company from 22 employees to 110. Today, D’Andrea Visual Communications is an expert provider of experiential marketing services, trade show and retail installations, wall coverings, and other offerings that complement its core strengths in litho and grand-format printing.
What began as a blueprint shop in Dallas, Tex., in 1956 is today Thomas Printworks, a nationwide network of production and partner facilities that aims to be, said its Chief Revenue Officer, Trevor J. Hansen, “a large, yet nimble” provider of everything from traditional print, direct mail, and promotional products to supply chain management, digital signage, and managed print services.
The company’s platform is so diversified, in fact, that Subers compared it to the broad swath of products and services that will be presented at PRINTING United.
Hansen noted that Thomas Printworks owes its extensive footprint to growth by acquisition (a strategy that 38% of participants in the SGIA-NAPCO research said was in their plans). The objective in aligning the resources it has acquired, he said, is to ensure that Thomas Printworks is perceived as “one company, and one offering for our customers” wherever it does business.
Hansen and D’Andrea both endorsed the all-under-one-roof concept of PRINTING United, which carries on the role of SGIA Expo, the event it succeeds, as the industry’s most comprehensive showcase for graphic and visual communications. They also talked about integrating new capabilities, recruiting qualified employees, and managing what Subers called “the cost conversation” that PSPs continue to have with their customers.
On the subject of convergence, both agreed that the trend is one to be leveraged, not ignored. As D’Andrea put it, “the windows of opportunity for all of us are there. It’s a matter of reaching out and taking that risk.”