Q: Tell us about e-LYNXX, the segment of the market it serves, and who you consider to be your core users.
A: e-LYNXX Corporation serves printers and print buyers through two of our three separate lines of business:
Our Government Print Management division works with commercial print, direct mail, and print marketing suppliers of all sizes, nationwide to help them win single print jobs and multi-year programs from the United States Government Printing Office (GPO). Most of the top GPO printers are Government Print Management clients. GPO print specialists at e-LYNXX assist clients with GPO certification; obtaining, categorizing, and disseminating all available GPO bid solicitations, amendments, results and histories; and analysis using Government Print Management’s proprietary database of GPO jobs, the largest in the industry.
Our American Print Management (APM) division works with print buyers to help them reduce costs by 25-50 percent for procured print (direct mail, marketing, publications, labels, packaging, commercial print, and a host of other print categories). This is accomplished by applying e-LYNXX Corporation’s patented AVS Technology, APM best procurement practices, and APM’s proprietary SaaS communications and workflow system. Each print supplier in a buyer’s database is chosen by the buyer and thoroughly vetted to ensure that quality work will be delivered on time, regardless of pricing. The competitive bidding environment that is established encourages low pricing because all printers invited to bid, through the automated vendor selection (AVS) process, know that others also are lowering prices to fill production gaps. The printer benefits by being offered work by a trusted print buyer that it otherwise would not receive, and regardless of bidding, low, high, or not the printer remains in the buyer’s database for future work consideration.
Q: What is your background and how did you get involved with e-LYNXX?
A: My formal career in the printing industry began after I graduated from Dickinson College in 1967 and when I took over my family’s print business in Chambersburg, PA, my hometown. It grew to become the largest supplier of print to the GPO, and from there I moved away from production to consulting. That led me to forming a GPO bid services company that has grown to what is today e-LYNXX Corporation—one of the leading procurement innovators and print management firms in the U.S. and Canada.
I have been honored to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration regarding government print and procurement policy. I also have worked directly with numerous congressional and senatorial members and staff, and have advised Congress on the development, operations, and future of government printing and procurement.
All of this drew me deeper and deeper into an industry that has been floundering for decades. It also has led me to develop innovations that benefit both the print buyer and the supplier, and for that I am grateful to have been inducted in 2009 into the Printing Industries of America Ben Franklin Honor Society and named by editors at Supply & Demand Chain Executive in 2010 and 2011 as one of the most influential leaders in the supply and procurement profession in North America.
These recognitions stem from my belief that the print industry needs to modernize and operate more efficiently; not just for itself, but for print buyers who seek ways to reduce expenses without sacrificing quality or on-time delivery.
Q: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement in this market?
By far, the achievement that has had the greatest impact is my invention of AVS Technology. AVS stands for automated vendor selection, and the technology has been awarded several patents and is being licensed nationwide. While it is licensed mostly by print buyers now, it can be applied to the purchase of any custom good or service that requires specifications when ordered.
I also am proud of my leadership over the years in helping printers win work from the GPO and in support of GPO itself.
Q: If you could change anything, either about your career, your company, or the market as a whole, what would it be and why?
A: The change that I’d like to see is adherence by federal agencies to Title 44 of the U.S. Code, which states that GPO shall be the centralized printer and procurer of printing for the federal government, including the Executive Office of the President, Congress, the Supreme Court, executive departments, and independent agencies. Too many agencies have been allowed to establish their own print plants in defiance of this directive. This is costing private sector printers work and jobs.
Q: What do you consider to be the greatest challenge for the industry right now?
A: Printers need to embrace new technology and stop being complacent, such as with antiquated supply chain management and other procurement systems. Printers also must be willing to reduce prices in order to fill gaps in their production schedules. Discount pricing covers fixed costs. Our clients do that all the time to win profitable GPO work. Of course, all printers are concerned about printed text losing ground to online communications.
Q: What do you consider to be the greatest asset for the industry right now?
A: Our resiliency. Printers have always found a way to get the job done, but during these tough economic times printers have to be innovative and more accepting of new technology and procurement methods.
Q: What are the biggest changes to the way we communicate with one another in the past few years?
A: Our dependency on electronic communications is the most obvious and prevailing. This is revolutionizing our industry in a way that can be seen as detrimental. However, there is no going back, and we must adapt.
Q: How would you recommend this industry take advantage of that?
A: Our communication tools today are more powerful than ever, and we must use them, as an industry, to get our messages out to government and other thought leaders. We also must use technology to improve offerings and services for the print buyer.
We have firsthand experience with innovation. We know its benefits because we have developed procurement technology and best practices that are gaining work for printers and reducing costs for print buyers.
Q: Looking ahead, what major innovations or technologies do you believe will shape the future of the industry? Why?
A: Of course, I am partial to the innovations that have been developed at e-LYNXX, but I think they are indicative of what buyers are demanding—competitive pricing that results in quality work being delivered on time. Electronic communications have expanded the competitive marketplace for printer buyers and printers alike. Today, almost any printer can produce work for any print buyer anywhere in the country as long as they are capable of meeting the specified quality and delivery requirements. Pricing strategy is more important than ever.
Q: What one piece of advice would you like to give to printers and others involved in this industry?
A: Keep in mind that the print supplier marketplace for the print buyers continues to shrink and that to stay competitive printers must adapt. This means embracing concepts such as contribution pricing. That is when printers lower prices to fill production gaps. Printers that are successful in winning GPO work do this all the time and, in doing so, significantly improve their overall profitability.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with Quick Printing readers?
A: Once a printer starts winning GPO work consistently, it can expect to increase its profitability from an industry average of two percent, before GPO work, to 14 percent or more afterwards. Those percentages are based on a printer working with an experienced GPO bid service firm, identifying opening production capacity, and discounting prices to fill non-productive, non-revenue generating schedule openings.
Winning GPO work consistently is key because, unless GPO is developed as a secondary market, production utilization cannot be increased from a print industry average of 70 percent (and dwindling) to full utilization of 90-95 percent by filling what would otherwise be down time.