IRgA Index Offers a Snapshot of Industry Health

If you’re like many people in the repro industry, you probably read the AIA Billings Index pretty closely. That venerable measure reveals what’s going on upstream to repro businesses – if architects report an increase in billing, it’s likely that more business will flow to repro.

With the AIA Billings Index in mind, about a year ago I got the idea to start something similar for IRgA that would more directly measure the business. I discussed this with the board at our meeting last summer, ironed out some kinks, and got the ball is rolling. We surveyed members last month about their business in the first quarter of 2014, and 47 responded.

I set up the index using the same formula as the AIA Billings Index. The measure equals the percentage of shops reporting an increase plus half the percentage of shops reporting flat business.

For the first survey, the measure for business to the AEC community was 77, and business to non-AEC clients was 85. This indicates strong growth, since both numbers are well above 50. However, what will be much more valuable is comparable data, and that will come as future surveys are conducted.

The biggest surprise in the survey was a marked growth in color CAD printing. Color CAD has been kind of brewing in the background of repro – everyone thinks it’s a good idea, but few clients have been willing to pay for it. Now it appears that it’s coming of age. I’m researching that issue and will write about it in the future, but if you have any feelings on the topic, please share them with me.

Naturally, we gathered more survey data than just the basics. We also have geographic breakdowns and breakdowns by type of business. However, we’re only releasing that data to companies that completed the survey (and sponsoring companies). I hope that doesn’t seem mean – we’re doing it to more strongly encourage participation in the survey. The more people who complete each quarterly survey, the more valuable the results will be. So if you didn’t complete this survey, please keep your eyes open for the next one, which we’ll distribute in August.