Contrary to the goings on at the The Office's Dunder Mifflin, where staff spent more time planning how to sabotage co-workers than ever helping customers, paper merchants play a critical role in the distribution of paper throughout the graphic communications industry. While many of the largest...
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Contrary to the goings on at the The Office's Dunder Mifflin, where staff spent more time planning how to sabotage co-workers than ever helping customers, paper merchants play a critical role in the distribution of paper throughout the graphic communications industry.
While many of the largest printers enjoy a direct line to mills, for medium and small-sized firms paper merchants are often the lifeline to ensuring that paper is on the shop floor when needed.
In today’s graphic communications environment, where print runs can stretch the gamut from one on up, output on a wide variety of devices and presses, both digital and analog, having that partner relationship with a paper merchant can make all difference when ensuring your print job is ready for your customer.
More than just a middleman, paper merchants recommend brands based on performance, availability, and cost. They are, at the core, consultants, ready to offer both recommendations and technical information to help their printer partner get the best paper for the job.
Fully stocked sample departments, says Jason Levey, general manager, Paper Mart Inc., allow us “to help a printer match the correct paper with the printing application to satisfy the customer’s specific needs.”
With diverse choices from both substrates and equipment available from one single source, there are fewer steps involved for printers to develop new offerings and expand their business models, explains Dennis Killion, xpedx’s director of marketing, graphics.
With merchants suffering from many of the same market forces as their customers—volatile economy, encroachment of alternative media, stiff competition, demands for quick response to customers’ needs, and consolidation—many are bringing in additional services, branching out into offering ink and toner, packaging, and janitorial services to remain profitable, secure new customers, and maintain their loyalty base, reports InfoTrends in its Paper Merchant Survey 2011. The NPTA Alliance partnered with InfoTrends to produce the report.
For example, xpedx looks to use its “extensive industry knowledge to help printers develop strategies to grow sales and enter new markets, as we have with our Wide Format Solutions Summits this year,” says Killion. “Because xpedx provides expertise on the entire workflow, from start to finish, printers can expect one-stop-shop service from us when they are focused on more than just a single aspect of their business.”
Paper Mart offers qualified customers the services of its on-site envelope printing department, which produces in excess of 3 million impressions per day. Additional services include folding, scoring, perforating, drilling, cutting and customized packaging.
Advancing technology has given printers greater access to information and products available from distributors. All xpedx customers have access to its ecommerce platform, which offers real-time inventory availability and pricing, reorder templates, robust catalogs, and environmental purchase reports. Print providers who use EFI PrintSmith, Pace or Monarch are able to directly integrate with xpedx through its Website, streamlining estimating and purchasing.
Focus on Paper
However, not all paper merchants have gone that route. Case Paper continues to focus on prime paper, shoring up its relationships with printers with a range of converting equipment in-house that allows it to custom covert paper in different sizes for its customers.
Its newest sheeter, the Maxson MDH, is designed to sheet up to four webs of lightweight grades of paper or heavier board grades. Its compact design lets Case run both short and long production orders, while accommodating the needs of digital, folio, and large format sheet markets and delivering press ready skids to customers.
A new custom-built Catbridge two-drum surface slitter winder –the company’s third slitter--is precision engineered at 86 inches wide and able to perform up to twenty cuts, going as narrow as two inches.