Just about anyone on the street will tell you that the Internet is quickly eliminating the need for postal mail. As recently as 2007, nearly half of all printing produced in the United States was mailed, but email and online banking are two of the many factors continuing to shrink U.S. postal volumes.
But the view on the street is not shared by everyone. “Envelopes won’t go away in our lifetime,” predicted Scott Johnson, VP of sales/marketingfor Priority Envelope, one of the most successful envelope producers in the country. Based in Plymouth, MN, Johnson’s company specializes in only one product: envelopes -- lots and lots of envelopes. “We are completely dedicated to the envelope industry. Our employees can answer any question you have about printing and converting envelopes because we live and breathe envelopes every day,” he added.
Indeed, Johnson and his co-workers are passionate about their envelopes for good reason. Industry research shows that people are more receptive to direct marketing when envelopes are used. Nearly seven of every 10 consumers said they’re more likely to open first a mail piece with color text and graphics, compared to a plain white envelope without messaging, a Pitney Bowes study has revealed.
Many readers were surprised last year when Response Magazine reported that young adults (ages 18-34) in North America prefer offline marketing offers in print. Direct marketing, even though it was down by more than 10 percent last year, still accounted for over 54% of all ad expenditures. (Internet ad spending decreased by some 3% year over year.) Marketers spend nearly $150 billion annually on direct marketing, according to the latest DMA figures, because it works. Ben Cooper, executive director of The Print Council and Mail Moves America, and a former lobbyist for the Printing Industries of America, noted that major corporations such as AT&T and Dell are increasing printed mailings this year due to their effectiveness.
Hi Tech, High Touch
This demand for envelopes leads many to Priority’s front door, but it’s the firm’s dedication and passion for its customers that keeps them coming back. “Our goal at Priority Envelope is to provide the highest level of service and best quality possible,” president Ryan Wenning stated. “Our goal is to engage every customer in conversation to make sure we understand their needs, and then to provide quotes within two hours. And we treat every order with the same attention to detail, whether it’s for 250 envelopes or 500,000. That’s why so many of our customers come back time and time again.”
Celebrating its 15th business anniversary this year, Priority has experienced impressive growth with large national accounts and today offers three Midwestern facilities located in Minnesota, Iowa, and Kansas. Priority has 200,000 square feet of manufacturing space, 18 pieces of converting equipment, and 18 pieces of envelope printing equipment utilizing the latest in manufacturing technology. All three sites are FSC- and SFI-certified. The company has progressed a long way from its start with five employees and a fleet of used equipment.
As the new millennium approached, Priority was sitting at a crossroads, wrestling with how best to provide customers with the faster response times and greater flexibility they were demanding. It was then that its management team made a significant technology leap forward, entering the web arena with a W+D 627RC envelope printing and folding machine (see sidebar). The manufacturing footprint was changed forever, and the firm has never looked back, continually seeking the latest in new technologies to meet customer needs.
“There are no more old or used pieces of equipment for us,” said Wenning. “Our oldest web machine is seven years old [compared to an industry average age of 35 years], and we have a strategic willingness to invest in new technology.