2019 Top 50 Suppliers: Key takeaways, fun facts and more
It’s been an interesting year for our country, with information changing as quickly as a tweet disappears from a timeline. American businesses have been monitoring heightened trade tensions and recession risk. For printers, that list extends to paper supply shortages, raw material inflation and a lack of skilled personnel—the latter of which garnered more bad press when the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics stopped tracking jobs related to commercial print, screen printing and support activities for printing.
In spite of these challenges, industry forecasts remained positive. In regard to total commercial printing industry sales, Andrew D. Paparozzi, chief economist for Specialty Graphic Imaging Association, Fairfax, Va., predicted growth of 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent in 2019. Dr. Ronnie H. Davis, senior vice president and chief economist for Printing Industries of America’s Center for Print Economics and Management and Government Affairs and Advocacy, Warrendale, Pa., proposed similar figures at 2 percent growth—a “very healthy pace” from a historical perspective.
It’s true that there is no better predictor of 2019 trends than the direction of the overall economy, but even when business and manufacturing optimism are lacking, opportunities remain for clever, creative and persistent entrepreneurs and managers. That being said, Print+Promo has some good news of our own to share as we present our 2019 Top 50 Suppliers: Overall revenue for Top 50 submissions was $2.45 billion, a 5.1 percent increase over 2018’s $2.33 billion.
Of the 43 suppliers returning from last year’s Top 50:
- 29 had revenue increases.
- 12 had revenue decreases.
- 2 finished evenly.
Those who have been following our lists will find similarities among our top five, though there is one exception. It was a close call, but Western States Envelope & Label Co. knocked TST IMPRESO out of fifth place by nearly $67,000. Keith S. Walters-led Ennis Inc. held onto the No. 1 spot, earning $400.8 million—up by 8.3 percent thanks to the purchases of Allen-Bailey Tag & Label in May 2018 and Wright Business Graphics in August 2018. The Midlothian, Texas-based champion welcomed three companies to its roster when it acquired family-owned suppliers Flesh Co, Integrated Print & Graphics and Ace Forms. However, their individual revenues were not a part of Ennis Inc.’s final tally.
The 2019 list was missing some notable entries, starting with General Data Company, a trade printer that most recently placed 8th on our 2018 list with $75 million in annual sales. Other missing suppliers were Nieman Printing (2018: No. 20); Label Works (2018: No. 23); and The Allen Company (2018: No. 27). While their absence was felt (collectively, those companies earned $146.4 million), it created room for seven new companies, including a first-time submitter who made the top 10. Also of note, the newcomers’ combined total was $174.7 million, so we gained $28.3 million even with the loss of those just mentioned. Say “hello” to Zoo Printing (No. 8); Envelope Mart USA (No. 20); Gabriel Group (No. 23); HCF Inc. (No. 32); Luminer Converting Group (No. 37); Thompson Print & Mailing Solutions (No. 42); and QT2 (No. 46).
In the meantime, here are a few extra stats we saw in our analysis:
- Four out of the five top companies enjoyed revenue increases. Ennis Inc.’s previously mentioned 8.3 percent rise in sales was the biggest increase.
- In all, 17 U.S. states were headquarters to at least one supplier in the Top 50. Illinois led the way with eight suppliers calling it home, while California and Ohio each had six. Seven other states appeared at least two times on the list, leaving seven states with a single supplier.
- This year’s Top 50 suppliers employed nearly 12,000 people. Ennis Inc. employed 2,569, while 4over LLC and OneTouchPoint employed 1,300 and 691, respectively. Of the Top 50, the supplier with the smallest staff was ASAP Printing at 40 employees. Twenty-seven of the Top 50 suppliers had a staff size in the triple digits or greater.