Strength in Numbers
Corporate culture in 2007 can be summed up with a few signature words and phrases: downsizing, outsourcing and maximizing while minimizing. Of course, the printing industry has been experiencing these changes firsthand for years. To retain a competitive edge as companies across the board are swapped and sold, distributor networks are angling for successful approaches on an increasingly uneven playing field, aiming to maximize client satisfaction, quality control, and most importantly, profits. At the same time, corporations seek to efficiently expand market presence with branding, marketing and promotional campaigns in creative, standout ways—translating into new and challenging printing jobs and an increasing demand for high-quality work at low costs. As a result, distributors must continue to uncover creative ways to weather the industry storm, and break with the past by developing new professional alliances.
Two distributorships have done just that. InnerWorkings, headquartered in Chicago and founded in 2001, has armed its ranks with a network of more than 4,500 print providers to obtain and manage printed products for corporate clients. The company went public in 2006. Bowling Green, Kentucky-based Best Business Systems (BBS), in operation since 1984, announced the new BBSProNet in 2007. BBSProNet is a network designed to aid distributors in landing major accounts.
Their client bases and business models may vary, but both companies boast a roster of seasoned industry veterans at their helms. President, CEO and owner of Best Business Systems and BBSProNet Paul Keith, started IBSA with nine other partners in 2002. Eric Belcher, COO of InnerWorkings since 2006, was previously the company’s executive vice president of operations after serving as CFO at Man Roland.
As a result of its extensive and varied supplier contacts, InnerWorkings offers management services in areas such as book, promotional and hospitality products, as well as printing, tracking, warehousing and distribution services. In late November, InnerWorkings acquired Corporate Edge, a New York City-based distributor of promotional products.