Without a doubt, the last few years have proved to be difficult for businesses in all parts of the globe and even though we're only a few months into 2011, unsettled world conditions—Middle East unrest, rising cost of raw materials, natural disasters—continue to make running a business anything but usual.
"Rapid and significant raw materials inflation can potentially have radical impact on the industry's financial ecosystem bringing realities we do not yet believe the marketplace fully understands," said Don R. Uzzi, president, Coloredge. "Ours is a raw materials-intensive business and there is little to nothing anyone can do to curb this inflation."
The Top Shops, however, proved that while it might not be easy, it is possible to grow revenue and expand in difficult and uncertain times. "While we have 'survived" this past year and managed to stay ahead, to say it has been difficult is like saying Charlie Sheen has some minor issues," said Kevin O'Hea, owner, Academy Reprographics. "We did manage to grow our business and shake some revenue to the bottom line, but it wasn’t easy."
The economy—and the roller coaster wide it seems to be on—continues to plague businesses worldwide and puts added pressure on PSPs. "The biggest business challenge we face is understanding the fluctuating economy and how it influences our clients," said Bob Bekesha, vice president of sales & marketing, DGI-Invisuals LLC. "In today’s economy the end consumer’s behavior is unpredictable so our challenge is we must be ready to meet the needs of our clients when they call upon us for their branding requirements."
But even though it's been difficult some, like Berry & Homer's Joe Thompson, saw growth in 2010 and are optimistic in the opportunities it can bring his company in 2011. "We’ve seen a significant increase in business over the past year and if it continues we will need to reinvest in more capital equipment."
Overall, the numbers for this group look good and were very positive. It was good to finally see a rebound of revenue numbers for most firms this year and the overall number bears it out. As a group, shops gained on average about 7.82 percent in 2010—a pretty nice number given the economic situation—and owners were positive that 2011 would see growth again.
The age of our companies averaged out a little over 28 years (28.04 years), with our oldest founded in 1898, 113 years ago and a a new entry this year: Philadelphia, PA-based Berry & Homer. Filmet Color Laboratories, Inc. from Cheswick, PA, is the only other firm on the list to top out at more than a century old—boasting 101 years. We have five shops which can boast more than 50 years in business: The Composing Room (77), F.W.Haxel Co. (76), Sharpe Images (60), Thomas Reprographics, Inc. (55), and Coloredge formerly known as Crush Creative (52).
Two of the shops tied for youngest, established in 2010: Digital Graphics Express based in Concord, NC and The Great Display Company, LLC, based in Bloomington, IL.
While most shops had only a handful of locations—ranging from one to four—Thomas Reprographics based in Richardson, TX boasts 31, one less than last year. And even in this tough economy, the Top 40 Shops have plans to open up new locations in 2011.
The Top Shops offer a range of capabilities and services, both color and black-and-white graphics as needed. The numbers stay pretty consistent with the report from last year. As an average, 53.55 percent of the top shops' output is wide-format (36-96 inches in width) down a hair from 54.96 percent in 2009. Grand-format (96-inches plus) grabs the next largest share with 26.82 percent, up from 25.64 percent the previous year. Medium-format (24-35 inches) runs closely behind with 14.95 percent down from 15.20 percent. The remaining 7.32 percent is in small-format (14-inches and smaller documents) up from 7.1 percent.