These heavy hitters at the top of the chart amassed total 2009 sales of $140,836,116; a 13.69% dip from the same group's sales in the previous year. They operate 50 locations and employ 1,065 people—far fewer than the 2,524.5 employees they reported the previous year. The Top 10's average sales per shop of $2,816,722 was a bit higher than that of the group as a whole. However, their average sales per employee was $132,240—about $6,000 less than the larger group's average SPE.
Looking for good news wherever it can be found, I am happy to be able to report that even in this dismal economic climate, 21 companies posted positive sales growth. They ranged from the exceptional 35% growth of Insty-Prints of St. Paul and 30.6% of Ellis Galimidi's Allegra Print & Imaging to the much more modest 0.7% gain reported by Gerald Printing.
Only six companies posted double digit sales growth. Another 13 saw sales grow between 1% and 10%, and two grew less than a percent. Two companies, Automation Printing Company and Darwin and Lisa Buehler's Allegra Print & Imaging, reported sales that were level with the previous year.
For the first time ever, more than half of the Top 100—77%—posted decreased sales. Those figures ranged from the almost negligible -0.48% reported by Bill and Clare Meehan's Pittsburgh, PA-based AlphaGraphics to the gut-wrenching 74.45% loss suffered by Direct Connect Solutions, owned by Ann Mitchell. Happily, in a recent conversation with Ann, she reported that things are beginning to turn around for her company and April was the best month she has had in almost two years.
Thirty-two companies posted losses of 10% or less. That includes the 11 firms with estimated sales that were adjusted downward by 8.88% each, as explained earlier. Another 25 suffered sales decreases of up to 20%, and 16 saw sales decline up to 30%. Two companies lost more than 30% of sales, and one lost sales in the 40% range.
Shelter from the Storm
The 2010 Top 100 companies operate a total of 188 locations. That is only two less (-1.05%) than last year, perhaps indicating that this is an area in which the group is finally achieving some equilibrium. It was a bit of a surprise to note that 11 companies claim to have plans to open a new location in 2010. Even more surprising was that five of those businesses were among those that dealt with tumbling sales figures in 2009.
As it has for several years now, Copy Central boasts the largest number of locations, with 19 stores. CCI/Coakley Tech, with eight locations, is the second most wide-spread company. There are six firms with five locations each, three that operate four stores, 12 that have three shops, and 13 that run two places of business. The remaining 64 are single shop operations.
Average sales per shop were down 14.66% to $2,725,785. The highest SPS was posted by #6 Western Graphics, with $10,679,264, based on estimated sales. Highest SPS by a company that actually reported sales was $7,465,000 from #15 Mele Printing. Eight companies had SPS of $6 million or more. Eleven were in the $5 million range, 10 had SPS of at least $4 million, and 26 posted at least $3 million. Another 23 were in the $2 million range and 15 posted at least $1 million. Only seven companies reported SPS of less than $1 million, with Copy Central's $497,789 at the bottom of the heap.
In 2009, the Top 100 provided employment for 3,702 people. That is down by 10.73% from last year's population of 4,147. This number continues to steadily decline as the print workflow becomes more automated and companies learn to operate more efficiently. However, this year, the recession and the resulting drop in sales we certainly contributing factors.
Balmar and CCI/Coakely Tech employed 230 and 200 people, respectively. ColorNet/Rockville and ASAP each employed 100 people. Sixteen companies maintain a staff of more than 50 people, seven have at least 40 workers, 14 have at least 30 members on their teams, and 43 have at least 20 people on staff. There are 16 companies that employ fewer than 20 people. Minuteman Press (Genua & Mulligan) has the smallest staff with 13.
The reason most of the Top 100 companies are in a position to make the list, and to stay in it year after year, is because they employ sound business practices. As the numbers were being entered into the spreadsheet, it was intriguing to observe the many instances in which the number of employees fell, but the sales per employee (SPE) rose. The average SPE for the entire group slipped by 5.41% to $138,425, but more than a few of the individual firms turned lemons into lemonade and significantly increased their own SPE.