Without a doubt, the economy is foremost on everyone's minds these days and nearly all of our top shops said it would be the biggest challenge for them going forward. But even though things look grim, many of our top shops have a positive outlook for the future and are planning on investing in their companies and their businesses this year.
Flatbed printers were on the minds of many—some as new installs, others for additional capacity. Dye-sublimation, fabric printing, vehicle graphics and custom interiors were also hot topics. Shop owners are also looking at specific products—online document management systems, MIS sytems, ecologically-sound printing options, Web-to-print and eCommerce applications—to help them grow and streamline their businesses.
"Everyone will be faced with the same challenge this year, which is to sustain growth during a difficult economic period," said Barry Polan, vice president, National Sales, Crush Creative. "We plan on using this period of time as an opportunity to further differentiate Crush Creative from the competition. We plan on doing this by adding new technology and making further investment into our infrastructure. We believe that this period in time is a growth opportunity for companies such as Crush that are strong financially and technologically."
"Our biggest challenge will to take the major investment we have put into our equipment, facility, and personal and to grow our print volume," said Randy A. Crow, president, Source One Digital. "We have the production flow and system in place to ramp up our goal of increasing our print capacity to all new level. We plan continue to grow our client base in all channels of direct, wholesale, and sports industry and define our production flow and process on a 24 hour, seven day a week schedule."
"The biggest challenge to our businesses will be to find innovative ways to maintain market share and profitability. We will look into services we previously didn't offer and equipment or personnel that can help us achieve it. We've been through recessions before and will again, but that causes us to learn to work smarter and once again gain control over our business. Those that realize this early on can make adjustments and survive during the rough times without reducing prices, and turn a profit on same or less sales," said Mike Tardy, president, Dimension Silk Screen.
"We need to remain committed to our business model and core competencies to fend off the pricing pressures from the competition and the potential commoditizing/cheapening of our products and services," said Paul Lillienthal, owner, Pictura. "Management will be challenged with the volatility of our business and the industry in the short-term, while maintaining a long-term perspective and executing our business plan. We need to maintain an opportunistic approach and focus on our distinct competitive advantages. Our commitment to “sustainability” will be more important than ever and be a vital component to the long-term growth and success of Pictura Graphics."
Reinvention Key for Some
Some of these shops are viewing this as an opportunity to expand their business, by offering new products and services, reinventing the way they do business. "It will be necessary for almost all companies to consider major changes in their business paradigms. If anyone denies this, they are either ensconced in a cottage industry that is not suffering the effects, or they are in denial," said Spencer Jacobson, executive vice president, ImageKing. "The biggest challenge will be how to deal with these major changes on a cultural, profit, and business continuance level. 'There will be blood'."
"We have made a concerted effort over the last year to evolve our company into a leaner, more responsive organization," said Kevin C. Vesely, president, Vista Color Imaging, Inc. "We've expanded our perspective on what kind of provider we are, and now pursue projects that were once considered outside our comfort zone."