On Aug. 1, Standard Register rocked the industry with some startling news. The company had acquired Dayton, Ohio-based WorkflowOne in a transaction valued at $218 million. Media outlets promoted the acquisition created "one of the largest printing and print management companies in North America." While confusion and guardedness would be natural responses, leave it to our distributors to write an alternate headline: Distributors Take Back Industry.
After two years of stagnant numbers, this year's Top 50 Distributors list put forth encouraging totals. To provide a bit of perspective, the final tally in total annual revenue from all participants shot up to $2.76 billion compared to $2.31 billion in 2012 and $2.30 billion in 2011. Once again, this figure does not include WorkflowOne sales. Because of the company's unique position in the market and its inability to disclose how much of its sales can be categorized as "distributor revenue" versus "manufacturing revenue," Print+Promo was unable to accept its submission. Still, it is important to note that this year's top three generators enjoyed a financial boost. For instance, InnerWorkings Inc. reported $798.0 million in sales compared to last year's $633.8 million. Meanwhile, Proforma's numbers jumped to $430.3 million from $394.8 million in 2012. Finally, American Solutions for Business climbed to $190.3 million from its previous $182.6 million.
Individual product sectors, for the most part, followed this trend. Promotional products maintained its No. 1 spot, though it had a substantially higher finish at $317.9 million (2012: $284.5 million); direct mail accounted for $86.4 million (2012: $72.6 million); plastic products/cards inched to $22.9 million (2012: $18.0 million); and envelopes/folders/stationery consisted of $67.0 million (2012: $55.0 million). The Web solutions category (e.g., PURLS, QR codes and software) kept in line with the top suppliers, only producing $24.8 million. However, this is a slight bump up from last year's $24.0 million, and an even bigger departure from 2011's $14.3 million.