Living Among Giants
Just last year, Print+Promo's State of the Industry report addressed a big overhaul in marketplace realities. Suppliers and distributors alike finally tossed out traditional ink-on-paper models in favor of a service-based approach, creating a path for historic opportunities. Those opportunities, it turns out, came in the form of historic acquisitions.
On Aug. 1, Standard Register rocked the industry with some startling news. The company had acquired Dayton, Ohio-based WorkflowOne in a transaction valued at $218 million. According to the Dayton Business Journal, the acquisition had been touted as creating "one of the largest printing and print management companies in North America."
Not to be outdone by the competition, in late October, Chicago-based RR Donnelley & Sons Company signed a definitive agreement to acquire Consolidated Graphics. A release noted that under the terms of the transaction, Consolidated Graphics shareholders would receive a combination of $34.44 in cash and a fixed exchange ratio of 1.651 RR Donnelley shares for each outstanding share of Consolidated Graphics they owned, or $62 per share based on RR Donnelley's closing share price on Oct. 23. The end result was a transaction valued at approximately $620 million, plus the assumption of Consolidated Graphics' net debt.
The little guys can't seem to catch a break. Now that the recessionary dust has settled, small to mid-size companies are mapping out survival plans for a game ruled by giants. While survivors cut through the corporate chaos, many are left to wonder if the print industry is standing on shaky ground. The answer depends on whom you ask.
Dr. Ronnie H. Davis and his team at the Printing Industries of America (PIA), Sewickley, Pa., remain cautiously optimistic. "I think the biggest misconception about printing is that it is in decline, that sales are shrinking and the industry has a distressing future. This misconception may be more prevalent among outsiders than those in the industry, but even within the industry there are some that hold this negative view," said Davis, PIA's senior vice president and chief economist at the Center for Print Economics and Market Research.