Avoid Middle Child Syndrome
Remember that show, Malcolm in the Middle, where the lead character sort of ran interference between his older and younger siblings? Malcolm’s predicament was a lot like that of distributors who work with manufacturers to serve end-users. On the show, Malcolm’s angst could be instantly communicated—and dispelled—by simply glaring directly into the camera. In reality, the drama needs to play out before the happy ending.
Particularly with a worsening economy, stress and frustration can lead to dysfunction within the supply chain. What’s ironic is that an industry whose very soul is rooted in printed information often fails to communicate to resolve its issues. Two trade printers, however, are relying on honest, open communication to make the most of challenging times and strengthen relationships with distributors.
Ross Avedissian, president of ColorFX, a sheet-fed shop in Burbank, Calif., noticed an unsettling trend intensifying over the past year. Requests for job quotes were sharply increasing, while the number of actual orders being placed was significantly declining. “Where there used to be a 40 percent response, it is now like 20 percent,” he reported.
“Distributors will e-mail a request for a quote, and when they get the price, some will just take out our heading and e-mail the quote on to other printers to see if they can beat it,” he shared. “From there, it goes to the next and the next and finally, it comes to a printer without a job at the moment whose press is down. [That printer] is going to offer any price just to get the job. This is just a symptom of the real problem, which is the economy. People are trying to make as much as possible out of one job because they don’t know when the next job is coming in. There is no profit anymore. Some printers are doing jobs just based on paper costs.”