2020 Wide-format Impressions 125 Reveals Largest Large-Format Printing Companies, Industry Trends
While this is only our 3rd annual ranking of the largest wide-format printing companies in the U.S. and Canada, as ranked by annual sales, a lot has changed — and it really proves to be a snapshot of the industry as a whole. Now the Wide-format Impressions 125 — and not the 50 or 100 as it was in previous years — for 2020 showcases market convergence as more and more companies have entered the large-format printing industry looking for new opportunities, growth, and profit.
The 2020 Wide-format Impressions 125 reflects many of the largest industry trends — convergence being on the top of the list. Many of the firms on this list are following a more traditional path — commercial printers shifting their business to address the needs of the sign and graphics market. You can see the evidence of that by scanning through the list. Just in the top 20 printers alone, you are sure to recognize names such as Transcontinental (#5), Lithographix (#8), DATA Communications Management (#13), Postal Center International (#15), Sandy Alexander (#16), Cenveo Enterprises (#17), Baesman Group (#19), and Mittera Group (#20). All of these primarily commercial print companies saw the opportunity wide-format signs and graphics offered to them — along with (in many cases) a smaller capital equipment purchase price (compared to commercial print equipment), and nearly limitless opportunities.
But companies like IMAGINE (#1) with 70% of their sales dedicated to wide-format signs and graphics, have also been investing in new business opportunities. Back in 2019, IMAGINE added the EFI Nozomi C18000 single-pass inkjet press. The company continues to invest in industry-leading technology innovations in its quest to create impactful brand experiences. For IMAGINE, the Nozomi C18000 is expected to create efficiencies in rigid-board display production by transitioning to direct-to-board digital printing and away from litho-laminate mounting of analog offset-printed sheets.
Duggal Visual Solutions (#9), known for its high-end wide-format graphics, also saw opportunities in the high-quality commercial printing market. In early 2019, Duggal was the first company in the Northeast U.S. and one of the first in the world to upgrade its HP Indigo 12000 digital press with the new HD Imaging System, effectively doubling the addressable resolution of the press. This enabled Duggal to bring art gallery-quality prints to high-volume commercial production, including point-of-sale graphics, brochures, books, catalogs, and display applications.
M&A Addresses Market Needs
The wide-format printing industry is now “middle-aged,” according to Mark Hahn, managing director and founder of Graphic Arts Advisors, as he detailed in his article, “2020 M&A Activity - Wide-Format Comes of Age.” While he reflects on the M&A transactions over the past year, we can see the slow lead up over the last several years.
One of the big news items in M&A during 2019 was TC Transcontinental’s acquisition of Holland & Crosby Limited. This transaction is aligned with TC Transcontinental’s strategy of enhancing its offering in the promising vertical of in-store marketing product printing, which has been continuously growing for several years now.
According to François Olivier, president and CEO of TC Transcontinental, this acquisition would give TC Transcontinental access into the in-store décor and permanent display vertical. “Holland & Crosby Limited will enable us to serve new customers, but also offer our current customers a new array of innovative and sought-after products in the in-store marketing product printing vertical, an expanding market in which TC Transcontinental has been experiencing strong growth for many years.”
Drummond (#27), a long-standing commercial printer, was not shy when the company decided to invest into new technologies and business opportunities. The company has been investing in strong companies, folding them into their suite of businesses for nearly a decade. In 2012, the company purchased Graphic Communications Corporation (GCC), expanding into large-format and gaining a geographical footprint outside of Florida. In 2015, the company purchased the print division of RGI, enhancing its digital marketing services offering. In January 2018, Drummond acquired Sunbelt Printing, augmenting its commercial print and fulfillment capabilities. In April 2018, Drummond acquired ProGraphics and unified its Atlanta area operations. And in August 2019, Drummond acquired PSP Retail, a solution-centric provider of in-store graphics and signage with operations in Decatur, Ga.
Technology Accelerates Expansion and Efficiencies
Technology that facilitates automation has also proved to be a game-changer for some companies, allowing them to increase efficiency. Miller Zell (#4) introduced the Esko Kongsberg Robotic Manufacturing Cell to its printing technology arsenal in 2019. This automatic pallet-to-pallet finishing solution increased efficiency in the Atlanta-based facility by roughly 40%. At the time, Miller Zell was the only shop in the world operating this technology, which works in tandem with their digital finishing systems. Job bottlenecks led Miller Zell to implement the Esko Robotic Cell to reduce hands-on time and increase capacity. This automation robot operates two cutters, allowing the team to save significant time during the production process, and gain more flexibility and options for material substrates. Jobs that previously took more than an hour and 15 minutes can now be accomplished in roughly 30 minutes. The solution has been central in creating navigational indoor signage for several national clients, including Walmart, CVS, and Citizens Bank.
While the current situation isn’t ideal, the printing industry is resilient, and wide-format printers are positioning themselves to ride the expected upturn in 2021 — and beyond.
Top 10 Printing Companies that Made the 2020 Wide-format Impressions 125 List
Rank | Company Name | Headquarters | Annual Wide-Format Sales
- IMAGINE | Minneapolis, MN | $293.3M
- Showdown Displays | Brooklyn Center, MN | $142.4M
- Vomela Specialty | St. Paul, MN | $129.6M
- Miller Zell | Atlanta | $70.99M
- Transcontinental Inc. | Montreal | $45.72M
- Image Options | Foothill Ranch, CA | $45.54M
- Vision Integrated Graphics Group | Bolingbrook, IL | $41.80M
- Lithographix Inc. | Hawthorne, CA | $40M
- Duggal Visual Solutions | Brooklyn, NY | $39.4M
- Olympus Group | Milwaukee, WI | $31.3M
Denise Gustavson is the Editorial Director and Special Projects Editor for the Printing & Packaging Group, which includes Printing Impressions, packagePRINTING, In-plant Graphics and Wide-Format Impressions magazines, among other brands. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Wide-Format Impressions.