Demand Grows for a Demanding Product
From prospecting to production, commercial printing takes a lot of hard work—but the results are beautifully profitable.
At Apex Color, Jacksonville, Fla., commercial printing accounted for 30 percent of the work and $3.5 million in revenue last year. President Richard Ghelerter expects these figures to increase and has invested heavily in new equipment, including a five-color 20x26 press, as well as major upgrades in the pre-press department to facilitate that growth.
Similarly, Andrea Pesci-Jones, executive vice president for Canton, Michigan-based Stylecraft, reported that in 2003, 25 percent of the company's orders were for commercial printing, generating $3 million in sales. Stylecraft expects that the growth of commercial printing will continue to increase, particularly in the mid-run range (50,000 to 100,000 pieces). "Small runs can now be handled by digital presses, while larger runs are typically produced by specialized rotary plants," Pesci-Jones said.
In anticipation of growing market trends, Stylecraft decided to make its commercial printing division more of a stand-alone operation, adding a five-color press and developing PDF proof and digital color proof capabilities. "We specialize in high-end color presentation folders and die-cut pieces," continued Pesci-Jones, "and with the support of our bindery division, we were able to move into perfect bound and saddle-stitched multi-page booklets." She added that orders are also increasing for high-end color-printed, wraparound coated cover stock on book-formatted unit sets, rather than the conventional tag stock printed with black ink.
Certainly, this all bodes well for distributors, but as Ghelerter pointed out, selling commercial printing involves more than making the decision to do so.
Transitioning into Color
"Most of the buyers distributors call on purchase consumables, such as forms, and these are not always the same people responsible for buying commercial printing materials," Ghelerter observed. "Distributors must get to the right people for commercial printing and get that relationship going."