Association Insights: Strategic Growth Opportunities Abundant in Today's Industry

Over the last few years, the graphic communications industry has been experiencing a period of significant transformational change—change that shows no signs of slowing.

This change has not just been about adding and integrating new technologies, understanding evolving customer demands, responding to difficult economic realities, or facing powerful new competitors from both inside and outside the industry. It has been all of the above and more.

Many companies have adapted to these circumstances on their own, others have sought partners to help them do so, and still others have exited the industry. As a result, between 1998 and 2011, approximately one quarter of all printing businesses in the US ceased to operate independently or entirely; resulting in the loss of nearly 10,000 individual companies, including many printers that had been commercial pillars in their communities.

Path to Strength and Success

There is another side to this story, however, as this atmosphere of change and transformation has also created an unprecedented opportunity for companies that have been able to grow, diversify, or expand their client base through mergers with or acquisitions of formerly independent industry businesses. For these growing companies, strategic transactions have been a path to strength, stability, and success in a tumultuous industry—and economic—environment.

“More than 30 percent of nearly 400 companies surveyed during recent NAPL State of the Industry research included growth through M&A in their plans to make 2012 better than 2011,” says NAPL senior vice president and chief economist Andrew Paparozzi. 

To enable more companies to learn about today’s historic growth and diversification opportunities through strategic transactions, the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) and the Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association (MFSA) have joined to create the industry’s first M&A Conference: Growth & Transition Strategies for the Privately Held Business, Sept. 24-25, 2012, at the Crystal City Marriott in Arlington, VA. 

“The conference is exclusively for owners and principals of privately held industry businesses, but it is not limited to those ready to buy or sell,” explains MFSA president and CEO Ken Garner. “It is intended, instead, as an educational experience for any business owner who wants a better understanding of growth opportunities, seeks to explore the possibilities of strategic transactions in today’s market, or needs to learn more about what the M&A process actually entails.”

The NAPL/MFSA M&A Conference is the only industry event solely dedicated to the subject of mergers and acquisitions and how they relate to success planning and growth strategies. Attendees will hear from a variety of experts, including attorneys, tax and estate planning experts, lenders, private equity investors, and industry peers who have participated in M&A activities and can offer their frontline knowledge of what paths to follow and which pitfalls to avoid.

What the Trends Mean

The conference will open with an M&A Trends Report general session featuring Paparozzi, who will discuss the findings of a new NAPL study on M&A activity in the industry conducted this summer. This will be followed by a panel of four NAPL and MFSA members who have been active M&A participants discussing what industry trends mean for your business. General sessions on day two include a Private Equity panel discussion and a wide-ranging question-and-answer-based program, “Planning for the Future: How to Assess Your Options & What’s Next.”

Conference breakouts will cover topics such as “How to Deal with M&A in Family Businesses,” “Maximizing the Value of Your Business,” “Financing an M&A Deal,” “How to Determine if Growth Through Acquisition is Right for You,” “Post-Merger Integration,” and “Tax & Estate Planning.”

In conjunction with the M&A Conference, NAPL will be publishing a new book this summer, “Strategic Growth: The NAPL Guide to Profitable Mergers & Acquisitions”. It will feature the insight and experience of contributing editors Bob Rosen, president, R.H. Rosen & Associates and author of “Mergers & Acquisitions: A Printer’s Guidebook”; and John Hyde, NAPL senior vice president and principal advisor on scores of industry M&A transactions as head of the NAPL Mergers & Acquisitions Advisory Team.

For many companies, the idea of entering into—or even exploring—a transaction as complex and uncertain as merging with or acquiring another business may not only seem a daunting objective, but appear far too much to tackle while still trying to keep their current business up and running. In the long run, however, missing out on today’s historic business opportunities may be a source of significant regret.

Whether a business owner is trying to decide whether to find a strategic partner, “tuck in” another company’s customer base, or exit the industry altogether, it is imperative to understand what the real options and opportunities are. The M&A conference will help attendees gain that understanding and learn much more about what a merger, acquisition, or business sale can—and cannot—achieve.       

Joseph P. Truncale, Ph. D. is President and CEO of NAPL. For more information on the NAPL/MFSA M&A Conference, call 800-642-6275 or go to Learn more about NAPL at