Lindey Webb, of the long established Ace Forms, Pittsburg, Kan., emphasized the other element of survival, strong leadership. “Leon Bogner, CEO, has been at the helm since the company was founded in August of 1971. His leadership and devotion to the company and employees is an inspiration. He has led with integrity, honesty and an enviable work ethic. He is a steady hand on the tiller.”
The backbone of survival includes: leadership, superior quality, exceptional service and competitive pricing. Generally speaking, these are critical elements of any business that is going to outlast its competition. This is a standard in business that is timeless and ensures success. But, what is specific to the industry? Bogner of Ace Forms stressed, “Today, the business is customer-driven. One significant change is the sales/production cycle. We have gone from six- and seven-week turns to two- and three-week turns, maximum. The sheer pace of business today demands the speed and ease of the Internet.”
Change, What Change?
The 1980s were a decade of economic advancement and discovery for the industry. And, what propelled the forms industry of the '80s forward is currently experiencing the most significant declines in the printed products industry. Bogner explained, “The 1980s were a growth market, with double-digit growth in continuous forms. Today, there is double-digit decline in continuous forms.”
BFL&S Magazine archive data support this statement. In its heyday, the continuous form was the bread-and-butter of the industry. The 1986 BFL&S State of the Industry report documented overall sales were robust, forms accounted for a whopping 100 percent of distributor sales and the continuous form led the charge with a projected $2.7 billion in annual sales. It was a time when unit sets and peg boards accounted for enough business to warrant their own charted category with $1.6 billion and $290 million in sales respectively.
Related story: State of the Industry