1986, Ronald Reagan was in his second term as president, the economy was growing and inflation was low. “Platoon” won the best film category at the Academy Awards and vinyl records were still a staple in everyone’s music collection. BFL&S was Business Forms & Systems, and 50 percent of industry distributors had just one single computer in their facilities. Daisey printers used ribbon cartridges and business forms ruled supreme. In fact, for many manufacturers and distributors, business forms were the only necessary game in town. The competition was clear, everyone provided similar services to clients and location dictated business.
what a difference a couple of decades make. In an industry where change is quick and constant, company longevity is not for the weak of character or heart. Since 1986, there have been takeovers and merges. There are far fewer purely independent distributors and manufacturers than back in the days of old. The birth of the “super” distributorship, the franchisement of the industry, and globalization have all put an imprint on how businesses are run in today’s market. All this change in the business model and technological advances have not even been mentioned yet.
Add technology into the mix, and a mass of splinters go flying off into every direction. Today, the product mix and areas of specialty per company are so diverse that it has become almost impossible to know who the competition is, least of all who is winning. But, following Darwinian theory, the strong do survive and while many companies have fallen or been swallowed up since 1986, there are some that have evolved, stood strong and thrived in the face of change. What does it take to survive?
Continental Data Label, Elgin, Ill., opened its doors back in the 1960s and remains a player in the market today. Vaughn Gordon, vice president of national sales, explained its longevity and success. “We have concentrated on our core value of products of variable information print technologies, focusing on superior quality, exceptional service and competitive pricing. Our customers have come to rely upon the integrity and excellence that define the way we do business. We strive to satisfy the needs of our distributors and ultimately, the consumer.”
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