0306State of the Industry1996
“It wasn’t an easy move for us. It wasn’t an easy move for our distributors either, because a lot of them didn’t have any selling experience in commercial printing,” Richards commented. “But, we started investing in new equipment and throughout the ‘90s, we bought conventional commercial equipment.”
Commercial printing proved to be beneficial for Victor Printing. In 1996, it accounted for 15 percent of its business—a five percent increase from six years ago. However, the forms component has seen a decline in sales over the years. “Continuous forms declined, even though we’re still running a decent amount of them. Our check business has declined, as well,” said Richards. “But, unit sets are basically the same. And, on the commercial side, we’re getting involved in wide-format printing. We’re also handling mailing and pocket folders."
With attention shifting to digital technology, Victor Printing purchased a HP Indigo UltraStream 2000 digital press in 2001, enabling it to perform variable data work. Still, digital printing is only a recent phenomenon. Over the last 10 years, the printing industry’s primary focus was elsewhere. Buzz had surrounded electronic forms, and a little thing called the Internet entered the game.
According to the Printing Industries of America’s Vision 21 study released in 2000, the printing industry does not “operate in a vacuum” and is instead, influenced by outside factors including the prevalent use of the Internet. To survive in the late ‘90s, distributors had to adapt to the electronic invasion.
TopForm Software, Norcross, Ga., offered distributors services to ease the transition to electronic systems by providing them with an affordable multi-user software solution. The company’s services include data conversion, a Request for Quote module, Web.EC and variable print options. The majority of TopForm Software’s customers are forms distributors. However, its larger customers are often involved in areas such as promotional products, transcending traditional forms. But, whether distributors sell continuous checks or office products doesn’t determine who benefits from the company’s assistance. “The biggest people who can benefit from our services are those becoming Web enabled. We have concentrated a lot of our effort in our Web services that we offer,” explained Keith McBride, vice president of research & development.
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