As we reach the year 2013, Dealer Communicator reflected on the
changes in the industry that have evolved in the last 20 years or even longer
and changed the printing industry forever. Remember, the campaign in the
1980's: "Graphic Communications . . . They used to call it Printing"
reflecting changes in printer services and customer needs such as: CD
design/making and video production along with creative printing, finishing and
mailing services. Graphic Arts Dealers have had to adjust their businesses from
an emphasis on supplies to offering software, proofing systems, wide/narrow
digital printers and other digitally based equipment along with traditional
presses, supplies and a wide variety of finishing equipment.
The printing industry has
always moved slowly to accept change. The dealers too were slow to alter their
businesses reflecting these changes. Not only have the products offered by
dealers changed but the way business is done has changed as well. Whereas in
1990 few dealers had web sites or electronic means of selling and supporting
customers using the old fashioned way of communicating through fax, phone and
footwork, today's customers are served mostly through email, online catalogs
and web sites along with phone and to a lesser degree legwork.
Online buying and communication is a preferred way people and
companies want to do business these days.
It is hard to visualize the
future of the printing industry or whatever it will be called in 2025. But we
must be ready. The place to start is to remember the good old days of printing
and where they went. In the 1960's offset printing began the shift to
letterpress causing the disappearance of engravings, stereotypes and all that
metal stuff that went into creating a press form. In the 1990's came the demise
of cameras, stripping tables, platemakers, and all those film-based supplies
giving way to digital workflows, plates and proofers along with computer to
plate technologies. The 2000's have brought us automated offset presses,
digital printing - narrow and wide and a host of inline and offline binding
equipment. Also, the way we do business has challenged printers to expand,
offering multi-media and other creative services to survive.
The bottom line is that Graphic
Arts Dealers need to think ahead. While thinking about what you will be selling
in 2025 is probably impossible; looking at customer and industry trends
thinking about where your business as who and what you will be selling in the
next 5 years is a must.
There is no question that the printing industry that many of us have
grown up in is gone. Some of us have fought the changes with skeptism,
resistance and unbelief. We also know printers and dealers who did not survive
the shift. As you move into a new year be aware of the changes around you and
how you are affected. This should lead to a business plan that will control
your future instead of leading to your fiscal cliff.
Author: Don Goldman is the principal of ConsultWare, Inc. a Boston
area based graphic arts management and technologies organization. He provides
services to major printers, dealers and manufacturers in the areas of prepress
technologies, digital printing, production management including estimating,
scheduling and computer-based management information systems as well as overall
information flow and operating proceedures. Don is a well-known speaker,
author, and printing industry educator and is a recipient of the NAPL Technical
Leadership Award. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org