Get Down to Business and Find Out How Inkjet Has Impacted Jumbo Rolls and More
There’s always talk about the decline of print, mill consolidations and increasing paper costs. There have been some ups and downs over the years, but there is some good news emerging for jumbo rolls: The trend of paperless statements seems to have stalled.
“There are people who may agree or may not agree with this, but we’ve heard that at least in the world of statement processing that the conversion to paperless has leveled off,” Allen Simon, vice president of business development at Wise, Alpharetta, Ga., said. “In many cases, that’s probably gone as far as it’s going to go for a while, apparently. So, I think the requirement for print- and paper-based solutions is going to continue for several years, so distributors should be aware of that.”
We spoke to Simon, along with Rick Rossano, national sales manager for Maggio Data Forms, Hauppauge, N.Y.; and Kate Torpey, director of sales and business development at New Jersey Business Forms/InfoSeal, Englewood, N.J., to learn more jumbo roll news—including inkjet’s impact, sales advice and supplier partner must-haves.
Learn the technical side
Knowing the specs for what your customer needs is key. On an 80,000-document roll, a distributor wouldn’t want to make even the smallest error, let alone order a size not compatible with the client’s equipment. While most customers understand their equipment well enough to relay the specifications to distributors, smaller businesses might need more guidance, Rossano said. Either way, make sure to get all the details up front.
“A lot of times [distributors] are not familiar with how much diameter an end-user can use on their equipment,” he said. “We do 40" diameter rolls. We do 50" diameter rolls. There are different core sizes, so it’s a matter of getting everything straight with the end-user to avoid any issues when they finally [receive] the product and for some reason it doesn’t run on their equipment, so it’s just getting all the ducks in a row of what needs to be delivered and what they need.”
Aside from the usual specifications, be aware some companies have updated their printing technology—formerly toner-based imaging—to inkjet-based imaging.
Toner-based imaging allows end-users to print only black ink variable data, whereas newer inkjet-based imaging permits clients to print variable data and multicolor elements, such as a company logo, Simon, the former owner of Datatel Resources Corporation, said. So, instead of only blank or preprinted product options, inkjet adds another dynamic of what is preprinted for customers, forcing distributors to ask more questions if their prospective clients have made the jump to inkjet.
While this could result in less preprint per roll if more customers use inkjet to print in color too, it’s not expected to diminish the usage and sales of jumbo rolls because, at the end of the day, customers are still interested in outsourcing this task and only being responsible for variable data printing.
“The inkjet technologies are changing the product on occasion, and not necessarily replacing it,” Simon said. “And sometimes it has had no impact whatsoever because certain customers fully utilize these big, full-color inkjet machines and other customers may install these same full-color inkjet machines, but only use them in a limited manner because they’re in the processing-of-information business. They’re not necessarily in the print business.”
New Jersey Business Forms/InfoSeal actually has been receiving more orders for four-color preprinted rolls, Torpey said.
“Based on the cost benefit, printers are finding [that] receiving the four-color rolls can be more cost efficient than blank rolls and [provide an] ease of processing,” she explained.
So, distributors need to be aware of all these possibilities and make sure the customer will be satisfied with the finished product if the customer has intentions of using inkjet printing for any color elements of their documents.
“If I get a statement, I can look at it immediately and determine if it was processed inkjet or not,” Simon said. “There’s a difference. ... For example, we run work for [a national] bank, and I can tell you that we still do a lot of preprinted work for [the bank] especially for their high-end clients’ statements and so forth. They have not converted those to inkjet. Or, sometimes there are customers that go to inkjet, but they’re still requiring a preprinted form that could be nothing but a screened area front and back, and it still could end up being a four-color preprinted job. How the document is designed in inkjet technology could change the document and how it is printed, but those changes don’t necessarily result in a lack of a need for a preprinted document.”
Torpey agreed that preprinted rolls are still extremely valuable, especially with additional components.
“Jumbo business is a very consistent, good business,” she said. “It’s not going away, and with a lot of printers installing roll-fed inkjet, a prefinished roll can be a tremendous value to them. A prefinished roll can include additional perfs, a pressure seal cohesive [and] windows. Value-added jumbo rolls are what a lot of print shops are looking for now, and the business is actually evolving with more and more inkjet roll-fed printers, so don’t overlook the jumbo rolls.”
Find the right buyers
Individual companies may still be potential clients, though service bureaus were the overwhelming No. 1 answer in terms of who is purchasing jumbo rolls. While financial companies and utilities used to be prominently in the mix as well—processing bills, statements or direct mail internally at these types of businesses has waned, as many now outsource the work to service bureaus, Simon said.
“So, the service bureaus are taking on the business from these large financial companies and large utilities, and providing their statement services or their direct mail printing and so forth,” he said. “It’s almost like the subset of vertical markets are the end-users—the financial companies, the utilities and the like—but the actual companies that are performing the work are these service bureaus who are out there. They’re investing in the up-to-date imaging technologies, and they’re taking on the entire imaging and mailing function for these larger companies. So, the service bureau market is really where the business is at.”
Keep in mind this product isn’t for every client. Rossano seconded the decline in financial end-users, but added that direct mail is also a big portion of jumbo roll sales, with political campaigns and sweepstakes sprinkled in.
“Calling on companies who market, send out direct mail—I think that’s probably something where [distributors] would have a better success rate at this point,” he said.
And don’t let the perceived complexity of the product be a deterrent either. Jumbo rolls offer repeat business and good margins, Torpey said.
“Don’t be scared of jumbo rolls,” she said. “And if it’s something that [distributors] don’t have a knowledge base on, that’s what we, as a manufacturer, are there for. We can help them with any questions they may have, but don’t be scared of the product.”
There is always the potential that landing a jumbo roll client could lead to more business or a current customer could lead to a big, repeating jumbo roll order, Torpey added.
“Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” she asked. “Once you’ve put your foot in the door with anything, it opens up the opportunity to have further conversations. So, don’t ignore any business a customer has.”
Seek a supplier partnership (and know what to avoid)
Finding a good supplier partner is an important part of the sales equation. At Maggio Data Forms, Rossano said the company guarantees deliveries, which is important since your customers are relying on you to hit their deadlines.
“If we give a ship date, it’s going to ship on time,” he said. “We never ship late. That’s the key because a lot of this business is time-sensitive.”
The family-owned company, which is proud of its 40-plus years in the print industry, also promises quality. While Rossano acknowledged it’s hard to gauge what pitfalls a new vendor may have, he advised finding a supplier who provides quality products.
“[The owners are] hands-on as far as what happens and [with] all facets of the production process from estimating all the way to shipping,” Rossano said, “so everything we do is the best we can do. We really try to satisfy our customers.”
And quality isn’t an easy task when it comes to jumbo rolls. Not all companies will have the same skill set, and distributors shouldn’t assume a supplier who does one printed product well can do them all well.
“There’s an awful lot that goes into running product correctly,” Simon said. “Running a roll may seem to be a simple thing, but to run a quality roll, to package it correctly, to make sure the quality is consistent from roll to roll to roll, you really need to have strong UV press capabilities, strong quality procedures [and] packaging standards that are reliable.”
Steps like ensuring paper consistency, measuring the tension of the rolls repeatedly and maintaining climate control are all huge undertakings that good jumbo roll manufacturers—like Wise, who celebrated 50 years in business last fall—don’t skip. For example, humidity could cause curl and static, which would not bode well for customers.
“I can tell you our plants are all humidity- and temperature-controlled,” Simon said. “I can tell you that’s very, very important, especially this time of year when heaters get put on and the moisture levels and the humidity levels can vary greatly. It’s very important to provide consistency in humidity from the paper mill to the production facility to the actual print room in the service bureau where these rolls are processed, so I think that’s something that’s extremely important.”
Rossano also aims to be honest with his customers. Even though jumbo rolls are a product that Maggio Data Forms does well, there may be other projects that are not its forte.
“We have a good niche with the many products we offer,” he said. “But I will always inform a distributor if a project is not a good fit for us. They seem to appreciate the honesty.”