Creating a Competitive Edge
of the distributors comprising BFL&S’ 2005 Top 100 ranking, 47 have some type of production capabilities. Sun Coast Forms & Systems, Sarasota, Fla., and MACORP Print Group, North Wales, Pa., explained that it is a natural compliment to their distributorships—a way to work smarter and serve customers. What it is not, is an attempt to compete with manufacturers. In fact, manufacturer partners benefit by increased jobs entering the independent supply channel due to these enterprising distributors’ efforts, and their presses are not bogged down with less profitable jobs.
“My manufacturers know they’ll always get camera-ready artwork from us and we can print short-runs of samples for them, which is a big help and ensures quality,” said Dave Donnelly, president and co-owner of Sun Coast Forms & Systems with his wife, Barbara. “Believe me, when they’re in town, they take me to lunch.”
Plus, his sales staff is more effective in the field because of direct knowledge of paper, inks and various technical issues. MACORP Print Group’s CEO, David C. Magagna, agreed that any time sales reps can say they are direct manufacturers, there is a confidence that underlies their sales skills. “Sales professionals are also attracted to the new opportunities production equipment creates for the company,” he added.
The executives who spoke with BFL&S from both companies acknowledged that they personally have no experience operating a press, nor do they have the stress large manufacturers face in keeping equipment constantly running. As distributors, their priorities continue to be securing order activity that might otherwise be lost, meeting seemingly impossible delivery expectations and standing out from the competition in ways that profitably serve their particular markets.
For example, MACORP Print Group, led by David and his brother, President John P. Magagna, is in the process of rolling out a state-of-the-art digital printing initiative to support direct mail products and services. Donnelly, on the other hand, specializes in short-runs and quick turnarounds of more traditional products. “I like to be on the trailing edge of technology, where it is economically viable,” said Donnelly. “Besides, there are half a dozen printers around here who have digital equipment that I can go to.”