Larger Than Life
"Customers' awareness to speed also makes your daily production more demanding in that lead times have been reduced in the whole industry. What used to take three to five days to produce is expected in one to two days on average. Also, the improved speed of these printers has caused printed graphics to be reduced to very low profit margins. What used to demand, say, $3.50 per sq. ft. years ago is sold for 89 cents per sq. ft. by some now. But this is supply and demand, technology versus inefficiency, so with good reliable staff and equipment you can meet all these demands and at the end of the day feel good about what you have produced."
With constant changes, it's amazing these printers can keep things fresh.
"There's always challenges in this industry," Meister remarked. "Always new equipment to look at, new ways of doing things. We seem to change our marketing focus every two years on a regular basis. Before we were trying to brand our company, now we are trying to brand our product."
Wide format printers agreed that the business is here to stay, but what's next?
In the future, Meister believes companies will continue to renew their brands and product presence in the marketplace with static graphics as well as electronic media.
"The need to keep those images fresh and new looking will actually accelerate and create a higher demand for things like short run, regional and even local variable data type product presentations and promotions. All of this is where this part of the industry can excel. Also, the need for more on time or on demand marketing products will increase as companies will not see as much value in putting large inventories of print into their warehouses only to see 30 percent of it tossed out unused," he said. "On the far horizon, well who knows exactly. I expect someone to make a high quality, high speed, large format digital press someday that will either be toner-based or some other ink technology that will make a lot of the current machines obsolete."