I was listening to a panel discussion of printing company owners last night at an event sponsored by the Printing Industries of Colorado. The panelists have been successful in transitioning their businesses over the past decade. More importantly, these individuals are running 2nd or 3rd generation companies. These “old” dogs (sorry Janet, Debbie, Curt, and Tim) are learning a bunch of new tricks — and sharing them!
The audience heard the typical mantra of diversification and the need to be very customer centric (solution selling). Many have heard these words over the years, but these company owners are embracing the new realities of our industry.
When an audience member towards the end of the presentation asked ,“Why aren’t you folks talking about what you’re doing to fill up your printing presses?” I saw one of the main challenges we face as an industry. The person questioning the panel is still thinking about how we’ve done business in the past. We are printers, and we print.
The response from the panel was very pointed. We must understand that the world we knew is never going to come back. In 1995 there were over 50,000 commercial printers. By the end of 2010, that number will be about 30,000. We lost over $20 Billion of print sales in the past two years (12% decrease) as the economy tanked and buying patterns changed. We can not do business as usual. As one of the panelist stated, “I provide solutions for my customers. It may or may not be print, but it’s going bring dollars in the door and keep the business running.” It’s no longer business as usual.