We all know that change is the only constant, and if we were to analyze which elements of life are most frequently affected, the business world would likely top the list. In our particular section of that realm, we frequently hear that print is dead, a foolish statement if ever there was one because, well, here we are presenting content to our audience.
Even if we remove magazines from the equation, print is thriving, with its various applications depending on many dedicated individuals, tools and resources to excel. Take, for example, the findings from Print+Promo’s 2018 Top 50 Suppliers data, which showed that our honorees pulled in $2.33 billion through their product sectors. Jumbo rolls resonate as one such boon to the print world, and their reputation as industry mainstays prompted Print+Promo to connect with Allen Simon, the former owner of Datatel Resources Corporation, Butler, Pa.; and Steve Patton, vice president of operations for HCF Inc., Hillsboro, Ohio.
As single-part, continuous printed or blank, perforated or punched forms, jumbo rolls, although perhaps not the most aesthetically exciting product, exist as one of the most reliable and sought-after goods because of their numerous applications, including direct mail campaign items, credit card statements, invoices, membership applications, promotional letters, self-mailers and shipping documents. “Thanks to innovation, jumbo rolls are not going anywhere yet,” Simon, whose Pennsylvania-based business was recently acquired by Wise, an Alpharetta, Georgia-based manufacturer, said. “The product is still very relevant, and if you put in the initial effort to the selling process and rely on great partnerships to do so, the business will repeat pretty seamlessly.”
Because of Wise’s recent emphasis on the long-run market and labels—with its purchase of his company in October 2017 as a prime example of that allegiance—Simon noted that his parent company has shown an admirable commitment to jumbo rolls as a key component of succeeding in the higher volume print arena. That partnership has intensified his estimation of jumbo rolls as “a worthwhile marketplace to go after,” but one does not need to go through or have experienced a merger or acquisition to appreciate the advantages of the 50-inch diameter commodities.
“There have been some considerable consolidations, but that shouldn’t frighten people,” Simon surmised. “Users are now looking at the distributor market more than ever, and they’re looking for new distributors who are aligned with good manufacturers. Therefore, if you know the ins and outs of customers’ needs and are engaged in knowing all about the technology behind jumbo rolls and the types of projects that they can address, you could develop a lucrative partnership.”
While Datatel finds itself wielding its knowledge to assist distributors with large projects, Patton and his peers tend to be a go-to helper for smaller niche users. Priding itself on using premium-quality papers to print its jumbo rolls, HCF promises output that will include clearer images, finer screens and sharper colors.
“The print market continues to change, and that, despite what some people might think, is good news,” Patton said. “Print is still so adaptable, and jumbo rolls have proven [to be] up for whatever task people throw at them. If I’ve learned anything in my years in the industry, it’s that there’s always going to be a need for quality goods and dedicated people who can handle requests proficiently and, in the case of jumbo rolls, prodigiously.”
BIG TASKS AHEAD
Though Simon and Patton do not expect jumbo roll demand to wane, they did explain the responsibility that rests upon end-users. Prospective buyers must have serious talks concerning who will assist their endeavors and what degree of quality the pool of candidates can offer. In the ever-evolving print world, those discussions call for awareness of trends and considerable discernment of which manufacturers, suppliers and distributors have kept themselves abreast of those changes.
“I can’t stress enough how diligent that people have to be in looking for and securing someone who has continued access to raw materials in a very, very tight market,” Simon said. “The paper industry is extremely tight, and that’s easy to feel, but occasionally tempting to overlook.”
In that case, haste will certainly make waste, especially since mills are filling up, as the Datatel figure pointed out. He also referred to the January decision by Georgia-Pacific to shutter its communication papers machines, related converting assets and elements of its Port Hudson, Louisiana-based facility, a move that will lead to the loss of almost 700 jobs. That announcement, Simon lamented, will result in 8 percent of the uncoated paper market coming out of the industry, a total that reinforces his assessment that no matter the print task, the next six months will be “very vital” to observe.
“If you want to specialize in jumbo rolls, you’ll see that it’s a combination of quality people and materials that will make you stand out,” Simon said. “Even when you have them, though, you have to continue to stay up on industry-related changes to make sure things go smoothly.”
“I think being nimble is what sets us apart and can be what helps others, too,” Patton added. “There are so many considerations to ponder when jumbo rolls are your topic, such as the folds, the sheets, the perforations, the insertions and more. No matter which part of the process you are talking about, it all comes down to quality.”
Because of that summation and the applicability that laser printer-dependent jumbo rolls have across vertical markets, such as distribution, financial, insurance, manufacturing, retail, telecommunications and utility bills, one has to figure that Patton, Simon, their contemporaries and eventual successors should and will consider the sizable products a core part of their business services, despite the degree of gusto with which consumers and businesses move to online amenities to convey information. In the present, those very businessmen do feel fortunate to see that jumbo rolls remain a huge piece of companies’ identities and welcome the opportunity to see their reputation enhanced.
“The benefits of believing in jumbo rolls are still great because even though people have started to change their thinking about how they wish to receive information, they still see print as a way to make those details digestible and understandable,” Simon said. “Jumbo roll producers are sustaining themselves thanks to innovations in presses, packaging, wrapping, special skids and more.”
That figurative journey is one that Patton looks forward to witnessing, too, as its unfolding will provide further refutation to the idea that print is a goner or, at best, on its last legs.
“It’s far, far, far from dead,” the HCF representative said. “I think we should feel pretty lucky to see what awaits it, in fact, because I just can’t see people ever giving up on it. If you look at only the materials that jumbo rolls are responsible for producing, I think you have to predict that they’ll remain steady—not just this year, but next year and beyond, too. If you’re careful with your equipment, and by that I mean knowing what is going to produce the best outcome for your customer, every decent print piece is going to lead to another.”
“People who work with jumbo rolls are often tasked with intricate responsibilities,” Simon opined. “Therefore, upholding quality procedures will be a major duty for people who want to remain in the jumbo rolls world and those who are thinking of entering it because it’s not a realm where you can just wander in and think you’re going to be a standout right away. It’s never worked that way, and the print market’s changes are going to continue to remind us of that.”