Learn about the Education Market
Schools can be a loyal and lucrative niche for distributors
By Janet R. Gross
Unlike other customers of distributors, schools and universities generally donÍt go out of business and mergers are a rarity. Because of the turmoil in other industries, continuing and lifelong education is practically a necessitymaking education a growthmarket for the savvy distributor.
ñItÍs a good vertical market,î noted Kris Bilyeu, CFC, vice president of sales at Tabco Business Forms in Terre Haute, Ind. The $6 million distributorship deals with dozens of individual schools and at least eight universities and community colleges, providing everything from stock paper, letterhead, report cards and transcripts to promotional items, commercial printing and team uniforms.
ñThatÍs one of the nice things about the education market; itÍs very diverse,î Bilyeu said. David Dupack, president of Gemini Forms & Systems in Rochester Hills, Mich., agreed. ñThere are some school districts we do everything forScantron forms, envelopes, computer paper, checks, four-color printing,î said Dupack, whose firm deals with 30 to 35 school districts in suburban Detroit.
Reflecting the general trend, schools are migrating away from continuous forms and toward laser for traditional forms such as transcripts, grade reports and class schedules. H. Dean Horn, president and CEO of Rath Resources & Automation in Bellefontaine, Ohio, said one university he deals with ran a telethon with pledge cards and other forms. The school converted three forms from continuous to preprinted laser. ñI donÍt know if itÍs always cost-effective for them, but itÍs the wave of the future and you have to roll with the customers,î Horn said.
Security and scanning features are also commonly requested. ñMost districts have scanners for grading and attendance sheets,î Dupack said. In addition, banks encourage their customers to include ñall the bells and whistles they canî on checks, he added.
For many schools, districts or school corporations, stationery and forms are an annual order, usually placed in late spring through early summer for fall delivery.