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DECEMBER 2012




What Will You Be Selling in 2025? . . . thinking about the future for dealers

Don Goldman

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.

GoldmanAuthor: 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: consultw@aol.com



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