Competition Reigns in Commercial Print
This stable market niche held strong in 2002 amid tough competition and price wars.
Here's a telling story of two men in a camp who are approached by a man-eating bear. One of the men starts to lace up his sneakers and the other man asks him, "Do you really think those sneakers are going to help you outrun the bear?" And the man answers, "I don't need to outrun the bear, I just need to outrun you."
Greg Muzzillo, founder and CEO of Proforma, Cleveland, recounted that story when explaining his company's belief that competition is a much greater concern for them than the market.
Whether commercial printing is driven by competition, sparked by the increased need for independent distributors or being exposed to new markets because it is becoming more digitized, one thing remains certain. It has continued to be a profitable sector of the business forms industry and distributors don't see that changing anytime soon.
In fact, Brian Wiedenmann, general manager of Monroe, Wash., Merrill Corporation reported that commercial printing contributed 50 percent of total sales in 2002, or $28 million. He stated that Merrill's largest sellers were signage, point of purchase products and components for human resource applications. All in all, he added, commercial printing "remains a central offering and core source of income" for Merrill.
The Shamrock Companies, Westlake, Ohio, cited packaging, point-of-purchase materials, bro-chures, posters, catalogs, and other collateral materials as large revenue producers for 2002, with commercial printing accounting for 40 percent of Shamrock's business—$20 million in revenue. Said CEO Bob Troop, "Most of the orders were for point-of-purchase materials and packaging."
Commercial printing represented the No. 1 category for growth rate of sales for Global DocuGraphix, Chicago. Recognized by President and CEO, Graham McClean as the fastest growing segment of Global's total sales, commercial printing has become the product that he said many independents have latched onto as a result of declining forms sales.