Download a PDF of the 2013 Top 100 List.
Download a PDF of the 2013 Top 100 Honorable Mention List.
Download a PDF the 2013 Top 100 Entry Form. (Entry for next year's list will open in January 2014.)
The slow recovery reported in the last two Top 100 surveys exploded into a fountainhead of growth and improvement in 2012. And not a moment too soon! With total annual sales of $530,914,231, this year’s Top 100 grew by an impressive 10.15 percent over last year’s group. When compared to its own performance, year over year, this group posted 7.17 percent growth. While some companies in the group are still struggling, the overall improvement is the best news the small commercial industry segment has had since the recession.
As always, companies that previously reported sales of more than $5 million, but did not update their numbers have been included at their previous sales level, and are listed as “estimated”. This avoids skewing the overall numbers. If a company fails to update its information for three years, it is removed from the study. This year, House of Printing in Burtonsville, MD, was the only company removed for failure to update. There are nine companies listed with estimated sales this year. Three of them—Hatteras Printing, Elm Press, and RESCO—will be removed next year if they do not update their information.
There are 18 new companies in this year’s Top 100, although several of them are alumni of past years that have returned to the study. The highest debut is by Team Concept Printing in Carol Stream, IL, which jumped straight into the Top 10 at #6 with sales of $10,914,000. Another indicator of the group’s improvement is the bottom line. Last year’s cut-off was $2.25 million. This year, the #100 shop reported sales of $2,558,851.
The Top 10 saw a bit of movement this year, although CPS Gumpert and ColorNet/Rockville Printing & Graphics remained at #1 and #2, respectively. Chuck Stempler’s Seattle-based AlphaGraphics franchise jumped from #6 into the #3 spot, which caused Mele Printing to slip to #4, in turn pushing Econoprint (Madison) to #5. As previously noted, Team Concept Printing debuted in the #6 spot. Hatteras Printing, AccuLink, and MailMax Direct retained their positions at #7 through #9, respectively, and George Coriaty’s Sir Speedy in Whittier, CA, edged into the top tier at #10.
The Top 10 alone produced $120,571,231 with 28 locations and 722.5 employees. (For the purpose of calculating sales per employee, part-time workers are entered as 0.5.) Their sales represent 22.71 percent of all Top 100 sales, 16.28 percent of locations, and 20 percent of all employees.
Any way you slice it, the Top 100 is looking good this year. Everything is trending upward except the number of locations, which appears to have stabilized. So the big question is, how did they do it? What elements produce sales in excess of $530 million?
Note that because of the trend toward offering website design and management, interactive marketing services, and social media management, we have added a new category. Web-based services is starting out small (1.23 percent of sales), but will undoubtedly grow as this new profit center gains momentum. Here is your breakout of the percentage of sales by job type.
Category Percentage Sales
Prepress 6.31% $33,500,688
One-Color Offset 6.14% $32,598,134
Multi-Color Offset 9.15% $48,578,652
Four-Color Process 14.07% $74,699,632
B/W Digital 11.33% $60,152,582
Color Digital 20.31% $107,828,680
Wide-Format 4.87% $25,855,523
Bindery/Finishing 9.06% $48,100,829
Mailing Services 4.77% $25,324,609
Web-based Services 1.23% $6,530,245
Brokered/Other 12.76% $67,744,656
Piece by Piece
There are a total of 172 locations represented in the Top 100 this year. That is only two fewer than last year’s list; a decline of only 1.15 percent. This is the only category that showed a decrease this year, and a two shop variance is negligible.
Average sales per shop (SPS) was $3,086,711, which marks an 11.13 percent gain on the year. In dollar value, that’s an increase of more than $500,000 per location. The top producer is Mele Printing in Covington, LA, which scored $12.2 million in a single location.
The company that posted the most significant overall sales growth is Bruce and Linda Pansky’s PIP Printing & Marketing Services franchise in Downey, CA, with a 76 percent increase in sales. The thing that is most impressive about this is that the growth was organic, rather than being due to an acquisition. Their achievement is worthy of its own story, which you can find on page 26.
Several companies grew at impressive rates, with 12 reporting growth of more than 20 percent, 29 grew by at least 10 percent, and 30 that grew by less than 10 percent. One company reported sales unchanged from 2011 and nine failed to report. Eighteen companies reported sales decreased, and 13 of those were down by less than 10 percent. Only one company saw sales drop by more than 20 percent.
Of course, the best indicator we have of any company’s real fiscal health is sales per employee (SPE). In 2012, SPE for the Top 100 catapulted by 20.36 percent to an average of $147,068 over the previous year. That accomplishment was reached even after removing the top SPE performance from the group because it would have skewed the numbers to leave it in.
Once again, Roger Leask’s Allegra Printing in Traverse City, MI, topped this category with SPE of nearly $1.45 million—that is not a typo. Although Leask is an Allegra franchisee, he does not maintain printing equipment in-house and operates his company primarily as a print broker. He apparently does that extremely well because he produced more than $3.6 million with 2.5 employees. The highest SPE by a conventional Top 100 company was the impressive $305,216 produced by Sir Speedy Whittier.
Sales per employee ranged from those high notes to $89,621. Only two companies posted SPE of less than $100,000 this year. Fourteen companies had SPE that topped $200,000. The remaining 82 had SPE of at least $100,000.
With numbers like these, one can’t help but feel optimistic. The across the board improvement of 2012 indicates that the recovery that got a toe hold in 2011 was no fluke. For those who are still struggling to find their way in the new business model, let this be an inspiration. For those who share in the uptick, let the competition begin in earnest. See you next year!