Q&A with Ronnie H. Davis, Ph.D.
Today’s printers need to determine their place in this spectrum and take immediate steps to improve or defend their position.
What is the biggest mistake a printer could make in the coming years?
The biggest mistake a printer can make is to have a negative attitude. In far too many examples of presentations, conferences, articles, and reports, print and the printing industry is portrayed as mature, declining, dying, or worse.
Yes, in some context print and the printing industry can accurately be described as mature or declining. However, this characterization of print and printing is not correct. History shows many successful, profitable firms can exist and even thrive in industries that are in long-term decline, and there is a lot of evidence that print is coming back. Print’s large economic footprint with many niches, processes, and products is an ideal situation for thriving amid maturity. Thousands of printing firms can survive, thrive, and become SuperPrinters—printers in the top echelon of profitability and growth. Your management team, employees, customers, and suppliers need to know this fact and that you still have a plan to thrive amid the challenges.
Press: What are the most relevant metrics a company can track to ensure they’re on the right path?
The book suggests several key metrics printers can use to track their progress in transitioning to a successful future. These include productivity metrics like sales and value-added per employee and factory employee; cost metrics like various labor cost, manufacturing cost, sales and administrative cost as ratios of sales; and long-run trends in cost. These metrics can be compared with all printers and more importantly, to industry profit leaders for benchmarking purposes.
Press: What is the best advice you would give a typical printer in today’s environment?
The best advice, I believe, is the advice in the last chapter of Competing for Print’s Thriving Future: