Keep Hangin’ On
There's no escaping the constant debate about the lifespan of continuous forms. At one time, this product dominated print industry sales. However, there has been a noticeable decline in demand over the years. Companies are swayed by the charms of technology and as more advancements in this area are made, the number of businesses migrating to an electronic format will continue to grow.
But technology isn't the only obstacle. Steven Osterloh, director of marketing for Midlothian, Texas-based Ennis, believes the availability and abundance of laser printers have led to a decline of continuous forms. End-users are under the misconception that the cost to operate a laser forms program is lower than the continuous forms product line.
"End-users have been converting from continuous forms to laser forms for years. This trend will continue, but we have completed cost analysis for distributors to help them educate their customers. In some cases, the numbers clearly state the end-user will save money with a laser product. In other cases, the numbers clearly state the customer will end up spending a significant amount more after conversion," Osterloh said. "Since we produce both continuous and laser forms, we are somewhat neutral when it comes to the customers' choice. We do want to make sure that they have all of the information necessary. If an end-user converts to laser, and then the cost to 'complete' those laser forms ends up costing them more, we've failed at our jobs within the supply chain (supplier-manufacturer-distributor)."
Doug Marecek, director, sales and marketing for South Elgin, Illinois-based Integrated Print & Graphics (IPG) agreed with Osterloh's sentiments. But he also is convinced the country's economic troubles have contributed to the decline.
"Continuous forms are on the decline and have been for several years. I have not noticed a larger drop compared to last year. However, I think the decline in business is a direct result of the current economic climate. Businesses have not had the volume needs that drive the use of continuous forms as well as the continued introduction of laser printers," Marecek commented.