Every year QP offers the presidents and CEOs of the franchises an opportunity to speak directly to our audience in their own words. They share a view of our industry segment that few others can entertain. Their unique perspectives bring out details concerning their individual systems and the industry as a whole to which we would not otherwise have access. We would like to publicly thank each of these busy executives for taking the time and effort to share their views so openly.
Mike Marcantonio, CEO
As 2012 came to a close, we continued to observe conditions that were not that dissimilar to 2011. Industry sales remain basically flat, and the outlook for 2013 is essentially more of the same. We are getting very little help from a marginally improving economy, and everyone can see that the landscape of our industry will not return to what it was pre-recession. The better news is that we continue to see great opportunity for those changing their business model to capitalize on the new opportunities in broader-based services.
During 2012, we conducted 25 sales training sessions for more than 150 of our franchise members. This effort helped accelerate the movement to a more sales/marketing driven business model. Although production is still very important, the successful businesses in the future must be solution providers. We continue to invest heavily in sales training resources and our Marketing Resource Center. The MRC completed over 600 projects in 2012, helping our franchise members with its centralized staff of veteran strategic planners, copywriters, graphic designers, website developers, and related subject matter experts. We now have 140 centers that are Marketing Central Certified with the number growing each week. The investments we have made to support the new business model are paying dividends for our franchise members, not necessarily in large volume traditional print sales, but in higher margin and more profitable consultative sales that have increased their bottom line.
We continue to accelerate the move to more digital production. Although offset is still very important, the writing is on the wall that our centers must be state-of-the-art in the growing digital market. This past year saw substantial investment in production color devices including Indigo, iGen, and toner-based production color devices. Additionally, we saw major investments in the fast growing wide-format printing market.
Our business units are now organized into two divisions: Bob Milroy was appointed president of the Marketing/Print Division. Bob was previously CEO of Alexander Marketing, a top 50 B2B agency. He joined Allegra Network over three years ago as chief marketing officer and has led the movement of our 290-plus marketing/print centers into the marketing services/cross media space. Ray Palmer was appointed president of the Sign Division. With our Signs Now and Signs By Tomorrow brands, we now have over 340 sign franchises under Ray’s leadership. Ray is also leading the introduction of a new sign and graphic services model that was recently announced. This new brand, Image360, recognizes the changing market in this industry that will position our franchise members to capture an even greater share of this growing market. In addition to leading the divisions, Bob and Ray are investors in the company.
We recently announced the reorganization of our corporate structure into a common parent company called Alliance Franchise Brands, uniting the ownership group under this new identity. Alliance Franchise brands represent nearly 650 centers with system-wide sales approaching $380 million. We have assembled a strong management and support team that will lead our franchise members of both divisions into the future. We look at solid growth opportunities in an industry that is mature in some segments, but growing in others. We choose to focus on those segments that are growing and will thrive into the next decade.