Today’s numbers look considerably different, with forms sales accounting for only 26 percent of distributor business, and as a whole, forms sales accounting for just $610 million of this billion-dollar industry. Today’s product mix includes a variety of specialty niches, such as direct mail, commercial printing and promotional products—all areas once considered outside the realm and scope of the industry.
Gordon also cited changes from the 1980s era. “The last 20 years have seen the death of the pinfeed printer, as well as the growth and then maturity of the desktop laser, which has now morphed into a rebirth with the lower cost of entry for color laser printing.”
And there she is, the desktop laser printer and her gal pal, the desktop computer; together they stand mighty, tossing their hair to the wind in that ever so sassy and arrogant way. Yes, technology has forever changed the industry and has forever changed the way business is conducted worldwide.
Giving the People What They Want
While top-notch print quality is imperative, it is a given ingredient to success in today’s markets. Survival of the fittest for the new millenium now relies on speed that utilizes forefront technology and quality of service, with the emphasis on service. Gordon drove this point home when he stated, “We need to be on the same path as our distributors and learn to do more than just be a source for labels. We need to be a source for solutions by staying on top of technology.” Echoing his call, Bogner also stated that survival long into the future calls for an eagle eye on “service, service and more service, and if you can supply it yesterday for a really low cost it would be great!”
So, what is the state of the industry compared to two decades ago? Clearly, it is no longer a rigid entity. There is a call for getting back to basics on the customer service side, but in a high-speed, tech-savvy way. And, in regards to institutional dynamics and product mix, it is a vast, complex and ever-changing, amorphic blob that refuses to stay inside the box, and it is forcing the industry to face life without the luxury of four walls.
Related story: State of the Industry