2012 QP Top 100: Reboot. Restart. Refresh.

Download a PDF of QP's 2012 Top 100 list here.

This year presented the perfect opportunity to realign our annual Top 100 list to reflect QP’s updated editorial focus. Our August issue will feature the first ever Printing News Top 50 large commercial printers in North America. This will provide a more appropriate venue for the large commercial printers which, until now, have broken out their quick and small commercial divisions for the Top 100. That means that this year’s list does not include behemoths such as Balmar and CCI/Coakley Tech.

The result of this move is that we are left with a far more accurate portrait of the North American quick/small commercial printing market. However, it also became necessary to adjust last year's numbers in order to compare the lists more accurately, year-over-year. To that end, I reconfigured the 2010 numbers by backing out the two largest companies in order to avoid skewing the comparisons.

The new, more focused QP Top 100 reported 2011 sales totaling $481,986,751. That was up a scant 0.17 percent over last year’s adjusted figures. However, this specific group increased sales by 8.01 percent over its own performance the previous year.

If you follow the Top 100, you already know that companies that report sales of at least $5 million do not simply drop out if they fail to report fresh numbers each year. They are estimated for two years. In the third year, if they still don’t report, they are removed from the list. This year seven companies were estimated: Hatteras Printing, AccuLink, Marange Printing, Russell Evans’ Print Tech, House of Printing, Elm Press, and RESCO. Two of those—House of Printing and Elm Press—will be removed from the list if they do not report next year. There are 28 newcomers to the list this year, with the highest ranked debut going to The Graphic Edge, located in Cumming, GA, which entered the list at #26.


Services Offered

Before we go any further, let’s explore how these 100 companies produced annual sales of more than $481 million.

Another feature of our Top 100 reboot is the introduction of the Interactive/Web-based Services category. It encompasses many of the activities that are currently referred to as marketing services: social media management, website design, and multi-media marketing campaigns and analytics. In its inaugural appearance, the category is credited with 1.39 percent of sales; almost $6.7 million. Here is the breakout:


2012 Top 100 Percent of Sales by Job Type

Category Percentage Sales

Prepress 7.34% $35,377,828

One-Color Offset 5.93% $28,581,814

Multi-Color Offset 9.43% $45,451,351

Four-Color Process 11.37% $54,801,894

B/W Digital 12.33% $59,428,966

Color Digital 20.49% $98,759,085

Wide-Format 5.79% $27,907,033

Bindery/Finishing 9.07% $43,716,198

Mailing Services 4.04% $19,472,265

Interactive/Web-based Services 1.39% $6,699,616

Brokered/Other 12.82% $61,779,163


I am considering further updates to the category list for future studies. Your opinions and suggestions are welcome, so please feel free to send them to me.


Pulse of the Industry

In 2011 the 100 companies that make up this list had 174 locations. That is down 2.25 percent on the year. In the coming year, they indicate plans to open an additional 13 locations, although one printer noted plans to close one location. The average sales per shop (SPS) for this year’s group was $2,564,554. That marks a decline of 5.13 percent from last year’s adjusted figures.

As always, the Top 100 is dominated by single-location companies. There are 64 in this year’s list. There are 20 companies that have two locations, nine that have three, and six that operate between five and six shops. Craig Fairbanks’ Copy Central tops out with 15 locations. And, at #5, Landmark Print has the highest SPS of any company; producing all of its $10,855,000 from a single location.


Power to the People

This year’s group of top rated printers employed 3,113 full time and 259 part time workers. For the purposes of figuring sales per employee (SPE), part time workers are counted as one-half. Therefore, the average SPE of $132,335 is based on a total of 3,372 employees. That fell by 7.86 precent from last year's group, even with adjusted numbers.

Looking at the general growth patterns in this year's group, we can logically conclude that if we had exact figures from this group’s performance in 2010, the differences in both the SPE and SPS percentages would be quite different.

The range of SPE in this year’s group ranges from three companies that posted less than $100,000 per employee—not a very healthy performance—to an astonishing $719,134 per employee. Obviously, that one had to be verified. Clocking in at #89, Roger Leask’s Allegra franchise in Traverse City, MI, produced sales of $2,516,969 with just four employees. How? In a word, brokering. Leask says he finds that by selling the printing jobs without taking on the overhead of producing the work in-house, he is able to keep his margins healthy. Not only did his company lead in SPE, but after taking over a business that produced annual sales of $356,000 the previous year, he also posted the highest rate of growth at 607.1 percent.

In this year’s list 15 companies experienced a decrease in sales, but more than half of those losses were less than five percent. Only three companies reported flat sales. That does not include the seven that were estimated and, therefore, reported as having zero percent growth. The rest—75 out of 100—reported sales increases.

For an economic recovery that is starting slowly, this year’s Top 100 offers a genuine ray of hope.