Shaky times did not disturb these top distributors. Lead by CEO Tom D'Agostino, Jr. and President Rick Wesley, Norfolk, Virginia-based SFI has captured the coveted No. 1 spot in BFL&S' Top 100 Distributors ranking for the third year in a row. Proactive thinking and hands-on involvement by SFI management has been at the heart of its success, for as D'Agostino observed, "When the decisions are made by an organizations' bankers or people in ivory towers it loses it competitiveness and esprit de corps." And the rate of obsolescence of printing needs has inspired SFI to move its market share forward to provide supply
BFL&S talks to distributors about being compensated for their contributions to the value chain. Forget religion and politics. Money is the subject for stirring things up, especially when salesmanship is the source of that money. Consider the reader response to Editorial Director Bill Drennan's editorial in the April issue of BFL&S, which looked at Landy Chase's views on the questionable contributions of seasoned sales professionals. Comments ranged from relief that it was being addressed to outrage that it was even an issue. This is proof that sales is an elusive and hard-to-define craft. Not surprisingly, deciding how to compensate for the skill
A panel discusses the advantages, disadvantages and the necessity for value-added services. For many years the job of distributors in the forms industry was to package, ship and deliver forms. By forms we mean those that are basic, tangible, paper-based and traditional. Today, however, the expectation of the distributor is to provide more than forms. End-users are looking for solutions to help them streamline their forms operations. In addition, as more businesses use the Internet, they're demanding special amenities to ensure the efficiency of electronic services. In fact, BFL&S recently conducted a survey to find out what distributors are doing these days to maintain
Dodging downturns and responding to distributor needs, the following lead a $4.96 million line-up. According to Tracy Dennis, vice president of sales for Transcontinental Printing, Newtown, Pa., "our current growth areas are in value-added products, but data management and fulfillment are emerging as the way of the future." She explained that distributors are increasingly requesting these services as customers are seeking a single source for meeting all of their needs. "For example, end-users conducting large direct mail campaigns want assistance with storing, tracking and managing data, rather than simply manipulating it. This allows them to prepare better focused and more effective future mailings."
Despite setbacks, the printed products industry staged a good performance. It was another big year for the Top 100 Manufacturers as total reported revenue climbed to $4.96 billion, up $580 million from last year's $4.38 billion. The total number of employees reported by the Top 100 in-creased by 514 to 30,945 from last year's total of 30,431. The total number of locations increased to 423 from 384 last year. It has been a more productive year as sales per employee jumped to $160,123 from the $143,843 reported a year ago. Sales per location also increased to $11.7 million from last year's $11.4 million. The increase in overall revenue
Distributors contemplate the present and future state of the industry. Has this year's economy had an adverse affect on the forms business? And with endless possibilities for print popping up via ad-vanced online technology, do distributors stand a chance to stay in the forms business in the years to come? Whether or not the recent fiscal slump gives way to major changes within the in-dustry, or simply serves as an opportunity for industry professionals to refocus their efforts, remains to be seen. To gain better insight into the concerns distributors have been facing of late, how they are handling them and where they see
Survey says strong investments result in solid retention. Last April, BFL&S sent out surveys to more than 200 distributors asking for information about how salespeople in the forms industry are compensated. While the results were somewhat varied, they revealed that most companies invest significant time and energy toward keeping sales staffs satisfied, an attribute that is especially important during an era when many workers perceive the grass, and the money, to be greener on the other side. The Initial Investment It's this new work philosophy that has employers carefully profiling potential new hires, while also presenting an attractive compensation package from
The economy was going too good to last—and of course it didn't. But is this necessarily a bad thing for distributors? It depends upon how you look at it. Yes, the stock markets are down, companies are laying off employees and everyone wants to cut expenses. So you may find customers trying to do with fewer of your products, delaying orders or splitting up large orders into smaller ones over time. On the other hand, staff cuts make outsourcing more attractive to companies that no longer want to handle non-core business functions themselves. Also, any paperwork reduction projects that require an investment in Internet
Highland Computer Forms finds success in blending traditional and modern products. Twenty-one years ago, Highland Computer Forms President Phil Wilson would have been satisfied if his company reached $10 million in sales by the mid 1980s. So the $50 million in sales he achieved in 2000, along with the Manufacturer of the Year title he received from BFL&S, should surely suffice. "At the time, we thought we could make a good living if we could get sales up to $10 million, and we hoped we could do it in six or eight years," said Phil Wilson who, along with a team of dedicated
Finishing can add profitability to a product portfolio. One of the strategies that distinguishes some very profitable manufacturers and distributors of printed products is a strong focus on post-printing operations that add value through product features or print-related services. Printing industry participants have traditionally looked upon press production as the heart of their business—and press capabilities certainly continue to be very important—but market trends and overcapacity in the printing industry have reduced the ink-on-paper part of many printed products to commodity status. This includes forms, labels and commercial printing, where the ability to add value with press capabilities has gradually declined.