Scatter Shooting In February

It’s been a pretty busy time the past week; thus, blogging was not top of mind — but it should have been with all the recent industry happenings! 

I saw that Bowne & Co., where I started my industry career many years ago, was bought out by RR Donnelley.  This repositions RRD into the document management business and gets rid of their biggest competitor in the financial printing biz.  This acquisition shows that they are further distancing themselves from the “traditional” world of print.  Given that Quad recently purchased World Color/Quebecor and Transcontinental spun off their U.S. facilities to IWCO, the landscape is changing rapidly.  And did you see that Heidelberg and Komori won’t be at GraphExpo this year?But the real question is, what does this mean to the privately held general commercial printer who is the backbone of the industry? 

I wish I knew, but I’ll say this much.  If the canaries are dropping off right and left, there’s something going on in the coal mine.

Did you see the “Advertisement” regarding the paper trade dispute in the recent issue of Graphic Arts Monthly?  My friend Bob Lindgren has been passionate about this issue (as are quite a few printers in Southern California).  His position, which I think has real merit, is that paper which is the largest component of cost (other than labor) for most printers “is about to become less plentiful and more expensive because a group of U.S. paper mills are trying to persuade the government to impose a tariff on certain types of coated paper from Asia.”  If you are not up on this issue, you may want to do a bit of research.

What I found interesting was that on the page following this “ad” was Trish Wales “Paperwatch.”  Trish stated that “These duties, if imposed could result in higher prices, but the likelihood is low.  Only sheets are included in the petitions, so large volume web grades will not be affected.”   Hmm.  Question Trish.  Supply & demand.  If the supply is reduced and demand remains the same — what happens to price?  Also, the vast majority of printers live in the sheetfed world; so, how can you so easily discount the impact to those folks?

Well February is quickly coming to a close, and I will share a bit of good news.  Word on the street is that estimating activity is busy — and that is normally a very good sign.  Keep the faith.

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