Top 100 Manufacturers
Best of Times?
The independent segment of the industry experienced its best sales year yet
By Bill Drennan and Maggie DeWitt
Changes in the composition of this year's Top 100 Manufacturers have resulted in an increase of more than $500 million in reported sales for the group as a whole, bringing the number to an all-time high of $3.16 billion. The changes include the addition of a few companies that were not listed last year and several acquisitions, which boosted individual company's sales.
Notable acquisitions, which added millions of dollars to sales figures, include Poser's purchase of Lancer Label, Vallis Forms Service's buyout of Champion Business Forms and Highland Computer Forms' acquisition of Economy Data Products.
However, the question remains whether the increased sale figures for this year's Top 100 Manufacturers is a good sign, or merely the reflection of merger and acquisition activity.
Industry consolidation can be read in different ways. It could signal the beginning of the end, as the largest of the competitors strive to remain in the market by swallowing their competition. However, it may also be a sign that the independents are beginning to claim a larger share of the marketplace. After all, despite consolidation, more than 100 manufacturers list sales of $5 million or higher.
The use of distributors, rather than a direct sales force, has always been the strength of the independent producers. It may be that distributors are becoming large enough and, more importantly, diverse enough to begin landing larger accounts that were previously the exclusive realm of the directs.
It is becoming more and more in the interest of mid- to large-size end-users to find a partner able to handle a wide range of printed product needsfrom business forms and labels to commercial printing and promotional products. It is less expensive to have a trusted partner handle these non-core business needs than to solicit bids on every item that is required.