Menus for a ritzy, French bistro. Brochures for a getaway to a ski resort. A business card reminding you to remember Joe the Salesman the next time you want to buy. It’s all commercial printing. But what’s a commercial printer to do when the restaurant shuts its doors, the hotel falters under a heap of debt and Joe gets the axe.
The U.S. commercial printing industry depends largely on the advertising and product needs of business customers and, in turn, their customers. Since the advertising and marketing business—like most businesses in the nation—is suffocating under the stronghold of the faltering U.S. economy, so is the commercial printing industry.
Sales for this particular sector, including all available services, fell 3.4 percent during the six months ending in October—the steepest decline over any six months since the first half of 2003, according to the January-released Printing Business Conditions, which is part of the National Association of Printing Leadership’s State of the Industry Series.
Like many companies, Garon Gembe, president of Greencastle, Pennsylvania-based commercial printer Graphics Universal, said his company has felt the pinch of the recession.
“We were rolling along well for the first three quarters of 2008,” Gembe said. “It was steady until the last quarter of 2008—everything dropped off.”
Gembe noted this economy does not rival economic downturns of the past.
“One unique thing about the current time is that everybody is affected,” he commented. “That’s unique compared to other slow times. Across the board—every area—manufacturing, financial markets, education and healthcare markets. Other years you would see manufacturing down but the financial market strong, so you would still have the one area to fall back on.”
Some companies are softening the financial blow by offering deals to customers, others cut workers’ hours and some get the sale by providing the best service possible.