The Anatomy of a List
With the presidential election just weeks away, many Americans feel dissatisfied with the economic state of their nation. For those in the business community, the outlook remains uncertain, and continuous slow growth only adds to the unease. And as Andrew D. Paparozzi, chief economist and senior vice president of Idealliance, Alexandria, Va., pointed out in our March State of the Industry report, when there’s uncertainty, fear isn’t far behind. “There is extraordinary uncertainty about where the industry, economy and things, in general, are headed,” he shared. “Uncertainty, whether economic or political, tends to dampen economic activity by encouraging companies to delay investment and hiring, and consumers to delay spending until the outlook clears.”
So, how did this belief translate over to our corner of the corporate world? Unfortunately, revenue for the reseller segment fell short of last year’s peak of $2.74 billion, finishing at $2.57 billion. However, this showing still puts suppliers over 2014’s $2.21 billion, 2013’s $2.36 billion and 2012’s $2.21 billion, which is no small task. It is important to note that financial information for a few 2015 notables, including Consolidated Label, The Regal Press and Britten Studios, was not made available prior to press time.
Ennis Inc. managed to hold on to the No. 1 spot, earning $569.0 million in annual sales—not quite as high as 2015’s $580.0 million. The Midlothian, Texas-based supplier’s fiscal year ended on Feb. 28. Since then, the company acquired Major Business Systems, Hillsborough, N.C., and shed its Alstyle Apparel division, the latter of which accounts for a majority of Ennis Inc.’s promotional product sales, so it will be interesting to see how 2017 shapes up for the heavy hitter.
4over Inc., Glendale, Calif.; OneTouchPoint, Hartland, Wis.; and Western States Envelope & Label, Butler, Wis., held on to spots two, three and four, respectively—and all enjoyed a boost in revenue. Of note, in July, 4over Inc. acquired another top supplier, ASAP Printing Corporation, Salt Lake City, and in June, Western States Envelope & Label’s longtime CEO and president Mark Lemberger retired (turn to page 48 and get to know new CEO and President Tom Rewolinski).
Magnets 4 media, Washington, Mo., tacked on $14.8 million to its 2015 figures, resulting in an impressive $109.0 million in sales—enough to take over fifth place. Taylor Promotional Products, consisting of ADG Promotional Products, Taymark, Navitor, Carlson Craft and Label Works, opted not to submit as a group this time around. ADG Promotional Products participated, though, and did so well that the company finished in the top 10.
Individual product sectors were a mixed bag. Printed Forms reported $491.4 million (2015: $486.8 million), reclaiming its place at the top, at the expense of Labels & Tags. Promotional Products landed at $430.0 million (2015: $391.9 million); Envelopes/Folders/Stationery jumped to $241.4 million (2015: $239.1 million); and Web Solutions inched its way up to $15.0 million (2015: $14.9 million).
The “Other” category also took a step in the right direction, generating $212.6 million, compared to 2015’s $123.2 million. Common responses for this sector, included:
- Digital print
- Wide format
- Rubber stamps
- Hand assembly
- Print management
- Folding carton packaging
- Fulfillment and distribution
- Integrated cards and labels
- Data processing and mailing
- Books, directories and manuals
- Barcode hardware, service and supplies
Some of these entries may skew the “Other” category; the decision to consider integrated labels, for example, as miscellaneous is left to the supplier’s discretion.
The four remaining categories weren’t as successful. As we previously suggested, Labels & Tags fell to $424.7 million (2015: $511.9 million). Commercial Print dropped to $271.5 million (2015: $340.9 million); Direct Mail declined to $87.3 million (2015: $99.9 million); and Plastic Products/Cards only accounted for $54.7 million (2015: $96.1 million).
The Top 50 Promotional Products Suppliers chart returned this year, as well (see page 34). Published in July 2016 from our sister publication, Promo Marketing (PM), the list is based on 2015 revenue. According to PM’s calculations, the majority of respondents enjoyed even better numbers this go around.
By the time you read this, the election cycle will be close to over, but with a new leader comes a different type of uncertainty. Both candidates differ profoundly in their views for what’s best for the economy, so how things play out is anyone’s guess. What is certain, however, is printers have an historic opportunity to get involved in their clients’ work, stay involved longer and fulfill a broader range of communications needs. Those who take a proactive approach are proof that good behavior is rewarded.
We congratulate each and every company that made either list and wish them the best of luck in 2017. Check back in November to see how the distributors used their time.
(Editor’s note: Factors to consider when interpreting sales figures are ongoing industry consolidations and responses reporting idiosyncrasies.)
Related story: 2016 Top 50 Suppliers List
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.