Chasing the Big Growth Opportunities
Growth and profitability. At the end of the day, those are the two key metrics every printer is after. Look around at the other attendees walking the show floor — not one is here because they believe their operation is perfect just the way it is, or because they are content with their current revenue streams, or because they aren’t interested in diversifying into new areas.
Every attendee — and a fair number of the vendors — is here because they are searching for new ways to grow their business: new directions, new opportunities, new possibilities that might not, at first glance, seem to fit with their current operation, but that will allow them to capture new clients and new business well into the future.
The challenge, however, is figuring out what those growth opportunities actually are.
In truth, the answer to that question isn’t universal, and every individual shop will need to find its own path to future growth and success. What is wildly successful for one commercial printer might be a failure for another. A technology that opens doors for one package printer might sit languishing in the corner of another. But that said, there are a few broad categories every shop should at least give passing consideration to as you walk the show floor and consider your own next steps.
One area Dan Maurer, vice president of Digital Product Management at Heidelberg (Booth 10143) believes will be a growth area in the coming months is the number of digital presses that can compete with offset on the size front, which in turn will open up interesting opportunities for shops to experiment with mixing traditional and cutting-edge technologies among their customers, and even within jobs.
“[One of the biggest growth biggest growth areas I’m anticipating in the next 12 to 18 months is] half size digital (B2+) and full size digital (B1) in both commercial and folding carton as more products become available, and the technologies mature and become cost competitive. Also, direct-to-object, which is really an infantile market now, will grow rapidly with new technologies.”
Another broad potential avenue for growth is in prototyping, says Joe Varone, president of GMG Americas (Booth 10561). He notes, “Part of that may be due to fact that the thermal imaging technology [in use today] is at end of life, is expensive to replace, is expensive to maintain, and the consumables are expensive. We’re seeing a surge in prototyping with [digital platforms], and we’re seeing huge margins in prototype production. And sometimes it’s not even just a single piece — the technology has gotten so good and efficient, we’re seeing actual test marketing runs of 1,000 or 2,000 pieces.”
For commercial or packaging printers, these technologies offer an intriguing way to capture more business from the brands and customers they are already producing work for — perhaps even producing the full, final runs once the design has been approved. It is a chance to get into projects earlier, forge deeper and more profitable relationships with customers, and even make it harder for customers to take their business elsewhere. For many shops, this is a fairly low-risk opportunity with the potential for high rewards.
At a show like PRINTING United, especially, where the most cutting edge technologies are on display, this is also a good opportunity for those commercial and packaging printers looking to add any type of security printing to the service mix to explore the options. While cutting-edge technology that provides unique security options is only valuable until it becomes mainstream, that just means shops with a higher tolerance for risk — and a willingness to push the boundaries on creativity — could potentially see huge growth building a business around always staying on the leading edge of possibility.
And these are just a few of the paths to growth open to printers of all shapes and sizes, from all parts of the country, and from all corners of the marketplace. PRINTING United is a show filled with opportunity — don’t be afraid to seize it.