Steer Into the Slide, Again

I published a blog called Steer Into the Slide on the 18th of this month. Then I sent this discussion statement to all the printing and related businesses I belong to on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/) “Printers can’t get out of this recession by running from it. Just like an automobile on a slippery surface we have to steer INTO the slide and convince other businesses to do the same.” I’ve had many terrific responses come in and I thought I’d share some of them.

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Rick Werner has sent you a message.

Date: 2/26/2009

HI Bill,We all have ink in our veins, check out our next generation ECO friendly Decal. www.slickerz.com and this is only the beginning…Stay tuned.

On 02/26/09 3:13 PM, Bill Ruesch wrote:
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Hello Rick,
Thank you for your clear insight. Of course we will lose some of our comrades, probably quite a few. The industry will change and in many ways will no longer be recognizable as the printing business of the past. In many ways I hate to see it happen because all of my adult life has been spent in and around the printing business. But on the other hand, I no longer miss rubbing out plates with that stinky developing fluid, either. I like the current fad term, “It’s all good.” Ultimately it is all good, I think.


On 02/23/09 10:43 AM, Rick Werner wrote:
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Maybe we need to re-visit Scratch and Sniff printing? Because it is the only media that we have not figured out how to digitize to the masses. But seriously how many printers have adapted to the output of all media, video, web, print, VDP, etc? In some small towns there is a need for a printer, but when you live in a major metro area with over 2600 printers who all can provide printing that a print buyer considers good, then what do you do? The fact that we are here discussing this topic on a social networking site speaks volumes about where everything is going. Marketing companies are talking about viral video, Social Networking, PURL’s, Pod Casting, RSS, Digital VDM, not print other than packaging and speciality printing. Simply put, our output capabilities are greater than the need.
SO, some will go hungry, some will evolve, and some will just be. Because this is not you daddy’s printing industry any more.

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Hi Cory,

This is exactly my point. If we cannibalize ourselves and one another there won’t be much to build on when things ease up.

On 02/23/09 8:17 AM, Cory Hubbell wrote:
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Right now in Dallas, Texas Im seeing a high number of underbids/no profit bids in the VDP industry. Companies are so starved for work that they are bidding jobs at a 1 to 2 cent per piece profit. This is horrible for the industry but at the same time, its what people are having to do to keep their shops running. Its hard to get people to play nice when everyone is trying to get a piece of the very small pie.
It is a very frustrating situation.

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Hi Dave,

I’ve been trying to climb into my way-back machine (excuse me Rocky & Bullwinkle) and see when the slide really began. As best as I can tell, the industry started slipping just before 9/11. I remember a dip and then a little recovery, but it seems to me it has been gradually downhill since then. What do you think?

On 02/23/09 8:17 AM, Dave Strong wrote:
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Great discussion topic. It seems like the graphic arts industry gets hit about 6 months into a recession and comes out about 6 months after a recession. What to do? Retain existing customers with improved quality, delivery, price and service. Aggressively seek new work, but don’t expect much. Reduce costs almost beyond reason and ask your suppliers to help. Position yourself against the competition for the up turn – it will eventually come.

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Hi Scott,

Now that’s what I’m talking about. You are right. The successful companies will adapt and get stronger. You are probably one who will adapt. Good luck to you.

On 02/23/09 2:47 PM, Scott Wattenbarger (760-931-4749) wrote:
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There are three types of companies in this mood that is our economy. First those that quit or become so conservative they chop themselves to pieces. Second, those that make little or no change and wait for things to return. Lastly, there is the group that ask themselves “how can I make money in this economy?”. The last will eat the other two.

The best way to do this is to capture the top talent in the market that is willing to, or has already jumped ship from the quitters and waiters. “Top Grade” while there is an inventory of talent. Replace your bottom 20% with proven top performers with some new book.

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Hi Craig,

Thank you for your response. Obviously following the same well-trodden paths will no longer take us where we need to go. I hate to see what is going to happen to those who don’t embrace the new realities. I’m trying to take it in myself. Here I am rapidly approaching 60 and I have to go back to school (figuratively) to learn printing in the new century.

Anything you can tell me that will help me do a better job for my customers, and help some of our soon to be fallen brothers in the Graphic Arts Industry would be welcome.

On 02/25/09 7:16 AM, Craig Caserto wrote:
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Hi Bill and all –

I agree that burying your head in the sand doesn’t do anyone any good. Inaction is not what this country is all about. I firmly believe that the rising tide of optimism followed by action lifts all boats. OK, enough metaphors. To piggyback on your comment of steering into the slide, I will say that printers need to implement new technologies that will help to add new revenue streams in addition to their traditional ink and paper offerings. I see printers becoming marketing services partners with their clients, and W2P is one of those important technologies that printers can utilize to their advantage. Clients overspend on marketing design and re-purposing with their ad agencies or design firms, but with W2P and VDP at the printer level clients can save a ton of money and speed time-to-market dramatically. Problem is printers are reluctant to make the change due to various factors, mainly fear of training on new technology and the perceived cost of its implementation. W2P and VDP developers like my company, GLUON, really do make it easy because we realize these issues. This isn’t meant to be an advertisement for GLUON, but seriously, anyone reading this should feel free to contact me and at least start a discussion about how we can work together to use this technology to drive new revenue. Together, we can not just steer into the slide, but recover and journey farther down the road than we could ever imagine. Best to all – Craig S. Caserto

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