Crunching Numbers, Taking Names
If anything can be learned from 2013, it's this: Our industry is full of surprises. From key acquisitions to a cash-strapped Postal Service, the recent string of controversies has done little to instill confidence in clients. But as our March State of the Industry issue pointed out, change creates historic opportunity for the prepared. In other words, the industry is what we make it.
So, how did suppliers respond to the challenges at hand? Did the protracted recovery from post-recession fallout finally start to speed up? This year's Top 50 Suppliers list offered encouraging results.
Overall, the industry performed well. While some suppliers took a hit, the majority broke even or enjoyed increases in revenue. For instance, top-generator Ennis Inc. reported $533.5 million in sales compared to last year's $517.0 million. Meanwhile, 4over Inc.'s numbers jumped to $115.0 million from $95.1 million in 2012. Such improvements were reflected in total annual revenue from all participants, including companies beyond the top 50. To provide some perspective, the final tally was $2.36 billion, a boost from last year's $2.27 billion, though short of 2011's $2.53 billion total.
Individual product sectors, for the most part, followed this trend. Labels & tags took second place, overall, with $442.2 million (2012: $422.4 million); commercial print accounted for $319.4 million (2012: $267.4 million); promotional products climbed to $284.0 million (2012: $265.2 million); direct mail inched to $125.4 million (2012: $123.3 million); and envelopes/folders/stationery landed at $182.8 million (2012: $182.6 million).
The "other" category also took a step in the right direction, proving industry players are finding new ways to complement traditional product lines. Sales came in at $87.4 million (2012: $68.8 million). Common responses for this sector were:
- Flexible packaging
- Screen-printed apparel
- Wide format
- Bindery finishing
- Installation services
- Digital printing
- Promotional print
- Integrated forms and labels
- Plastic bags
Note, some of these entries may skew the "other" category; the decision to consider screen-printed apparel, for example, as miscellaneous instead of promotional products is left to the supplier's discretion.