Monday, March 9, 2009

The PEiR Group, ReproMAX and RSA

I mentioned in an earlier post that I might, at some point, expand on what these companies are all about, and I’m going to get into that now, before I completely forget. I HAVE NOT SPELL-CHECKED OR REVIEWED MY TYPING (After typing all of this, my hands were ready to fall off!)

One initial comment: I mentioned in a previous post the importance of joining the IRGA. In the larger scheme of things, membership in the IRGA is very inexpensive, and the benefits you (and your business) get from being an IRGA member are valuable.

My second initial comment: Beyond belonging to the IRGA, there are huge benefits to be had from being a member of a “sub-group” (or should I say a “sub-association”) in the reprographics industry. I will talk about those benefits in this post.

My third initial comment: Simply for those of you who are not familiar with The PEiR Group, ReproMAX or RSA, at the end of this post I’ve copied into this post the “about us” information that appears on each’s web-site, including their web-site addresses. I urge you to visit all three sites to learn more about them.

My fourth initial comment: I’ve never been to an RSA meeting and my former companies were not RSA members. Therefore, I don’t know as much about RSA as I do about the others. Some of my industry friends’ companies do belong to RSA. Perhaps one of them will e-mail me to add to what I say about RSA or to clarify or correct what I say about RSA.

Okay, that’s it for the “initial comments”; thank you for your patience!

Comments about RSA

It is my understanding that the RSA has been around for many years; I don’t know how many, exactly, but it may well be over 40 years old by now, if not older. There used to be a group called “ASA” (they were referred to by some as the “Ammonia Sniffers Association”), but, a few years ago, ASA and RSA merged, with the RSA name continuing on. Since the diazo printing process is virtually non-existent (i.e., obsolete) in North America and since the only people probably still “sniffing ammonia” are those who use ammonia and Windex, I guess it is very appropriate that the ASA name is no longer used. Based on what I can tell by its membership, RSA member companies, which consist of reprographers and equipment and supply dealers, are, for the most part, smaller companies in our industry. (Based on the information posted on RSA’s web-site, the average RSA member-company does approximately $1.36 mil in sales per year.) About the term “smaller companies”, that’s not a knock on RSA. There’s certainly nothing wrong with keeping a company small. America was built on the backs of small businesspeople, they are the backbone of American business [and all would likely be in good shape now if were not for the greed and incredible stupidity of our country’s large investment banks (now dead and gone) and banking and financial institutions.]

Although I don’t know this as fact, I’m pretty sure that RSA operates a “buying co-op”, meaning that the individual RSA member-companies group their purchasing power to get better deals from the industry’s vendors. It is my understanding that most, if not the vast majority, of RSA member-companies are or were in the “supplies” business (that used to include drafting supplies, flat-files, drafting furniture, reprographics equipment, media and toner/developer/ink. When I first got into the reprographics industry in 1970, the company I joined was in the “drafting supplies” business. I got rid of that “department” only three months after I got into the business. I convinced my boss that selling supplies was a distraction to our core business of reprographics services. As I look back, that was one of the better decisions I made, for getting rid of our supplies business did allow us to focus on reprographics services. I’m sure that many companies in the reprographics industry have developed very successful and extensive supply businesses – companies such as Charrette,, Deiterich-Post, Ridgway’s are examples. Many years ago, before CAD and before the “digital revolution”, the supplies business was robust, but, nowadays, much of the stuff that used to be sold is obsolete. (“Hey, hand me the Skum-X, a Stab-Me and a leadholder!”) Associations.

RSA has developed an e-plan room product, they refer to it as their “National Plan Room” and I guess it was designed to compete with ARC’s PlanWell product, ReproMAX’s DFS and PDM products and with other e-plan room products out there. I would imagine that any e-plan room that achieves large number of placements (a large number of using companies) benefits all members, if not their customers. However, I’ve visited some RSA member-company web-sites, and it does not appear to me that RSA’s National Planroom product is used by all RSA members. I wonder why not, and I wonder what less than 100% acceptance by RSA’s member-companies means.

To me, the two primary benefits of belonging to a reprographics industry sub-group are the knowledge you gain from networking with others who are in the same business you are in and the purchasing power benefits of being a member of a buying co-op. RSA offers both of those.

Comments about ReproMAX

I mentioned in a previous post that both of the former reprographics companies I was with were ReproMAX members. Our first company, Rowley-Scher Reprographics, was a ReproCAD stockholder (ReproCAD is now ReproMAX) and our second company, NGI, was a ReproMAX “associate”. Nowadays, ReproMAX has “partner-members” and “associate-members”, kind of a “two class” system. That two-class system creates what I refer to as “dysfunction.” I hope ReproMAX has found a way to eliminate the two-class system since I last attended a ReproMAX meeting. I was a co-founder of ReproCAD, so I know many of ReproMAX’s original member-companies pretty well, since we had 3 or 4 meeting each year in the early formative years of ReproCAD. The idea for ReproCAD was spawned by Dick Wittrup (a great guy, he used to own Carich Reprographics in Dallas, TX. A few years before Dick passed away, he sold his company to Thomas Reprographics, finally succumbing to Bill Thomas’ persistent efforts over many years to buy Carich Reprographics. About ReproCAD’s founding – Dick and I were sitting in the back of the room at a MiniMAX meeting in Chicago, I think it was the summer of 1983, when Dick raised the idea of ReproCAD – him wanting to see MiniMAX extend its efforts into CAD systems and plotting and MiniMAX’s management not wanting to go there – so, after that meeting, we contacted several friends in the industry, including Sol Magid of NRI in NYC, Paul Koze of BPS in San Francisco, Bob Neely of Neely Blueprint in Jackson, MS, Bob Blair of Blair Graphics, Los Angeles, John Wilmsen (and yes, Rick Bosworth) of Service Blueprint in St Louis, etc. There were others, as well, for the first 15 member-companies of ReproCAD were all (and equal) shareholders. Later, we opened up the membership to “non-shareholder” member-companies. Around the fall of 1984, ReproCAD hired its first full-time President, a young man by the name of Mark Sirangelo. [(Mark left ReproCAD a year later to join Rowley-Scher as its CFO and later was elected R/S’ COO. Today, Mark is the Chairman and CEO of Space Development Corporation (Some would say that reprographics isn’t rocket-science; well, ReproCAD’s first full-time President is now in the rocket-science business, among other things.)] There were several fronts that ReproCAD “attacked” in its early days, including CAD systems (sales, support and training; all of that failed miserably), cooperative buying (that worked great) and discovery of equipment we could all use and, if we wanted to, sell (that worked “half-right”.) And, the main benefit of being a ReproCAD member was the networking that took place and the friendships that were developed. Back in those days, we had only one ReproCAD member per market-area, and, back then, few of our companies were “multi-market” companies anyway. And, because of that, we openly discussed business growth strategies, including the FM business (which, back then, was primarily a “staffed” thing.) Case in point – Carich Reprographics in Dallas and Rowley-Scher in DC did staffed FM deals with HOK offices in those cities (deals that lasted many, many years) and NRI was already doing a staffed FM for HOK in NYC. We did not fear competition from our fellow-members (at least I don’t think we did.)

Now, many years later, ReproMAX is quite a different organization and is much larger than it was back in 1988 when I first retired from the reprographics business and industry. ReproMAX still acts as a buying co-op for its member-companies. But, the main “thrust” of ReproMAX, these past few years, has been the development of ReproMAX’s e-plan room products – ReproMAX DFS and PDM, products developed by Adenium Systems – and the deal ReproMAX did with McGraw-Hill. About the deal ReproMAX did with McGraw-Hill, that deal involved scanning, planroom services and printing services. However, being an “associate” member of ReproMAX was not all that great because, while we did do some scanning of jobs that originated in our local market area (and what we got for doing that scanning work was “bupkis”, we did not do much printing to speak of [(it is my understanding that the bulk of the printing work and revenues from printing went to ReproMAX partner companies (or to A/E Graphics Complex, the R/M partner-member in Houston.)] And, about ReproMAX’s e-plan room products (DFS, PDM, whatever), ReproMAX-associate-members were not allowed to buy every product that ReproMAX-partner-members were allowed to buy. In my opinion, that created “dysfunction.” The reason for that (partners being able to buy all products, but not all associates being able to buy all products) happened, I guess, because ReproMAX changed at some point and decided to allow more than one ReproMAX member in “a market.” So, to protect their turfs, the partner-members who were in business in a markets where associate-members co-existed, maintained their competitive advantage (ReproMAX planroom/document management software-wise) over the associate-members in their market areas. The dysfunction that I spoke of? Well, what sense does it make for ReproMAX, the organization, to nationally advertise and promote ReproMAX PDM if not all ReproMAX “members” could sell or offer the services of PDM? If an organization is trying to create a nationally-branded product, but some of that organizations “member” companies do not have access to that product, that makes no sense at all, at least it does not make sense to me. (But, what do I know, anyway?) As I said earlier in this post, I hope that ReproMAX found a way to eliminate the two-class system and that all ReproMAX members, whether they are “partners” or “associates” have equal access to the same ReproMAX software products.

One disadvantage, as I see it, for ReproMAX vs. ARC is that ReproMAX, which is an amalgamation of separately owned companies, cannot truly compete with ARC on the “national” FM deal front. I’m not stating fact, simply my opinion. I do know that ReproMAX approached HDR about doing a “national” FM deal, but ARC was the only company that HDR really negotiated with. (Omaha is an interesting town; visit it someday.)

One of the big benefits of being a ReproMAX member is the fact that ReproMAX is populated by many of the reprographics industry’s larger companies (subtracting, of course, the former ReproMAX member companies that by now have been “picked-off” by ARC through ARC’s robust acquisition program.) The benefit of a smaller company joining ReproMAX is the benefit one gets from learning from the “wisdom” of owners and managers who are with the industry’s larger reprographics companies. A company that manages to grow large did not get there simply because it was lucky.

Comments about The PEiR Group

Well, last but not least, we come to the PEiR Group, which is wholly-owned by American Reprographics Company (ARC.) When I first heard about the PEiR Group, I wondered …. “why in the world would any non-ARC company become a member of a trade organization that is owned by the industry’s largest reprographics company (ARC), a company that competes with all of us?” Well, that “question” just shows you how dumb a person can be! (I’m referring to me, of course.) Today, a whole bunch of reprographers are members of The PEiR Group. Reprographers who compete head to head with ARC are PG members, and reprographers who don’t (at least yet) compete head to head with ARC are members.

Why? Because there are benefits of being a PG member; some of those benefits are similar to or the same as the benefits of being R/M and RSA members. But, there’s a big diffrence. ReproMAX does not allow every company that would like to join R/M join R/M. PG, unless it has changed since I retired, allows any company to join. Any company that wants to acquire PlanWell can acquire PlanWell, and PG members get a discount. Not every reprographer can get ReproMAX DFS/PDM. Like the other industry sub-groups, PG offers the power of a buying co-op. ARC’s purchasing power, being the reprographics industry’s largest company, is enormous, and some of that purchasing power is used to benefit PG members. ARC’s strategy, regarding PlanWell (and other ARC-developed software products), is to make them available to any and every company, a strategy that enhances ARC’s “national branding” of ARC-developed software products. I think it is obvious to all, but I’ll say it anyway, one of ARC’s goals, vis a vis selling PlanWell and other ARC-developed products to everyone who wants them, was to (is to) recoup some of the costs ARC incurred (and continues to incur) to develop and support its software products. Why else would any company that’s developed software products sell those products to competitors?

Like ReproMAX (and, I think RSA), the PEiR Group offers training and education for its reprographer-members. When I was with NGI, I had the opportunity to attend one PG executives conference, and one of the subjects the PG team covered was “best practices” for financial management. I personally didn’t learn a thing, but I did think the information was useful for some of the younger attendees and for the smaller companies that were represented at the meeting. In spite of the fact that I’ve been doing FM’s since late 1983, I attended two different PG “FM Sales Training Schools”, both of which were held in Las Vegas. While I did not learn anything new (basically, I went to those FM Sales Schools to see what ARC was teaching to my competitors!), I thought that the information shared by PG’s team leaders was valuable information for novices starting out in the FM business (and, even for those who’ve been in the FM business for a while.) Shaun Meany led both of the FM Sales Schools I attended, and Shaun, not surprisingly, did a very admirable job. For me, the highlight (of both FM Sales Schools) was Stan Jernigan. Stan, formerly a Sales Management person with Ford Graphics, San Fran, is a very gifted, talented presenter. If you’ve never heard Stan Jernigan speak about “sales”, he’s worth the price of admission. (Stan may be completely retired by now, but I’m not sure about that, because I haven’t yet found his e-mail address.)

Although I doubted ARC’s PEiR Group strategy, it looks like The PEiR Group has proven to be a winner for ARC.

Okay, that’s it for my specific comments about ReproMAX, The PEiR Group and RSA. I may later amend this post, but probably not.


RSA - Reprograhics Services Association (RSA) (

The RSA is a network of independent businesses operated by stockholders of the Reprographic Services Association(RSA), a cooperative business entity incorporated in the United States.
Presently the corporation consists of 147+ leading design support locations with over 3000 employees and net annual sales exceeding 200 million dollars.

Strict guidelines, including financial, technical and ethical standards are required and must be approved by the corporation before a dealer can be a member of the RSA team. The integrity of RSA dealers is reinforced by the RSA Corporation.

Through RSA Corporation meetings with manufacturer's R&D staff, RSA dealers are abreast of the latest technology to support the design profession. RSA dealers offer their clients solutions to problems congruent with the technologies of today and

ReproMAX (

Simply put, ReproMAX delivers digital asset management through our exclusive use of ReproMAX DFS, digital reprographics, large and small format printing and document services of the highest quality, in the most demanding business settings, to the widest range of industries and disciplines around the globe.

ReproMAX is a privately-held technology corporation, dedicated to promoting excellence in Digital Asset Management and advanced reprographic services to the many marketplaces we serve, which include:

• Architectural
 • Engineering
 • Construction
 • Legal
 • Owners / Developers
 • Graphic Artists and Design Professionals
 • Convention Services
 • Facilities Management On-site Services

ReproMAX is the largest, strongest and most aggressive international network of independent, innovative reprographic companies. Our affiliates are all market leaders with longstanding reputations for their commitment to quality and exemplary customer service. We currently serve over 350 locations around the world.

From millions of large format construction drawings, CAD plotting and architectural renderings to complex, large format color design, long term facilities management and large scale project management and cost management, ReproMAX members consistently serve their customers needs with exemplary quality, attention to detail and the highest levels of customer service.

The PEiR Group (

We are a trade association for independent reprographers and reprographic vendors. PEiR’s mission is to create a large, unified group of successful reprographers able to influence and advance the industry. We will achieve this by improving the profitability, quality, technology and professionalism of every member through educational programs, strong vendor relationships, and a close relationship with the best technology developers in our industry.

Sample Agenda (from recent Executive Conference held in Las Vegas)
• Managing for Success in a Recession
• Financial Management Best Practices
• Vital Factors (key performance indicators)
• Financial Analysis and Management Tools

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