Wide-format Impressions 100 Reveals Largest Printers, Industry Trends
Welcome to the 2nd annual compilation of the Wide-format Impressions 100, a list of the largest printing companies in the United States and Canada producing wide-format signs and graphics, as ranked by sales volume. This annual ranking truly serves as an indicator on how convergence and diversification are continuing to impact the visual communications industry.
Convergence = Increased Competition
We’ve been talking about convergence for more than a year now — the movement of business into adjacent market segments outside of a company’s core competencies — and it’s interesting to see just how much of an impact this has had in the wide-format space.
For many businesses looking for growth opportunities, wide-format signs and graphics have been one of the easier reaches for commercial and packaging printers. In some instances, these firms were already working with brands for direct mail or specialty packages, so expanding their range of services to include OOH campaigns and in-store signage is not that far a reach. Adding garment decoration or functional printing, though, requires different skill sets and, in many cases, could also include different customers.
The data supports that observation.
According to the 2019 Q1 SGIA Benchmarking Surveys, 66.7% of commercial printers are operating in at least one segment in addition to commercial printing, and 30.9% operate in at least two. The graphic and sign segment, served by 65.4%, has been the top target. In comparison, 21.0% have entered functional printing, and 14.8% garment decoration. Among all commercial printers surveyed, the graphics and signs segment averages 14.6% of revenue, functional printing 3.4%, and garment decoration 2.8%, showing that penetration, particularly of the last two segments, is generally still very limited. (See how some PSPs have successfully grown their businesses into adjacent markets and see how they are leading the way — and the industry — during this period of convergence.)
For wide-format printers, however, this has been a challenge as new companies enter the market and compete for jobs that were historically solely provided by sign and graphics companies. The Top 100 list of wide-format print providers includes companies providing everything from screen printing and commercial printing services, to direct mail, packaging, and wide- and grand-format inkjet printing.
Even though there is more competition in the market, most of the companies from the 2019 Q1 SGIA Benchmarking Surveys (67.5%) experienced positive sales growth during the current year. The business indicators look good for the current year, and the expectations are even higher for 2020, especially for employment, prices, and profitability. Fifty-six percent of companies are also confident about the industry — compared to 36% who have a positive view of the national economy.
How are wide-format printers staying so positive? What are they doing to ensure they continue to grow with this increased competition? Companies mentioned various strategies they are using, including production revisions and improvements (e.g., lean production); sales focused on current customers’ needs, and building awareness about the companies’ capabilities and how to match them together; and also, workforce developments to build and retain the valuable skilled labor.
Click here to download the complete 2019 Wide-format Impressions 100 list, including the Top 20 rankings of the largest wide-format providers by sales percentage, and the top franchise leaders serving this market space.
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.