February Scattershooting

For many in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the news of Williamson Printing Corporation being acquired by Quad was met with mixed feelings.  The Williamson family was a major force in Dallas – and the United States for many years.  Regardless it’s good news that the Williamson name, and much of what the Williamson boys did to create their company’s unique foot print in the market, will still be around.  Jerry Williamson will continue as QuadWilliamson’s president and Jesse Williamson will be involved with business development.

In various discussions with printing company owners and managers, they have shared that the 4th quarter of 2011 showed vast improvements in sales and profitability in comparison to 2010.  January and February have started slowly, but there seems to be an air of positive vibes for many sheetfed/digital printers.  Note – I did not say web printing.  The web printing community still seems to be in turmoil and the market continues to be soft.

Is strategic planning essential to one’s success over the next 5 years?  Many think that our industry is in need of serious planning to develop the business tactics which will garner success.  Yet, I think this aspect of management is a serious hurdle for many who grew up in an industry when strategic planning was focused on what type of press we were going to purchase.  Today’s planning has to entail potential shifts in one’s business which could take a company away from its core focus of print.  It’s a scary proposition, but one which truly needs serious consideration.

Speaking of making changes, the recent announcement from PIA and NAPL was a bit of surprise to many.  Yet, this topic has been discussed by various industry leaders for years.  Over the past two days, I’ve been asked by a variety of folks on my thoughts of whether this is good or bad, and my answer is an unqualified, it’s good!

The question I have, along with many who are involved with the organizations, is how do we put the organizations together so that it makes sense for the future.  PIA and NAPL have very different cultures and focuses.  NAPL is a direct member organization while PIA garners all of its members through 20 affiliates who operate independently of Pittsburgh.  The easy part of the consolidation is the economic one.  Get rid of the redundancies and focus on the organizations’ core strengths.  The tough question is what should a trade association for a very mature and fragmented industry look like?  Those decisions can not be made by looking into the rear-view mirror, but will take individuals who are willing to look to the future and do what’s necessary.

If you have strong feelings about the consolidation, please make your thoughts known.  As a member of PIA and/or NAPL it’s critical that you let our volunteer leaders know of the needs of the industry, not just what is best for the organizations.  Laura Lawton-Forsythe with Lawton Printing in Spokane is PIA’s Chairman and leading the efforts for PIA.  Darren Loken with Telepress located in Kent, Washington is NAPL’s chairman and working with Laura to make this effort come to fruition.  Reach out to them and let them know how you feel.

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