Thursday, April 29, 2010

Greg Williams has retired from NGI (NGI is an ARC-owned company)

Greg Williams, who, since Q1 2006, served as President of NGI, retired from NGI sometime during Q1 2010. This is not "new news", it is at least a couple of months old, but I'm finally taking a few minutes time to write about Greg and his retirement from NGI.

On March 1, 2006, this brief article appeared in the Jacksonville Business Journal ....
Greg Williams, a Jacksonville resident, has been named President of NGI, a Tampa-based graphic imaging solutions. Williams, who has been with the company since 1986 and had been Executive Vice President, will operate out of NGI's Jacksonville office. "Greg is the ideal person to lead NGI," said NGI Chairman and CEO Martha Korman. "He has the industry knowledge, experience and skills to take the company to the next level as a leader in the graphic imaging industry."

I had the pleasure of working with Greg during my 10+ year career at NGI. As President of NGI (and even before that, when he was the "executive vice president"), Greg was "the glue" that held together the operations of the company. Greg was one of the founding shareholders of NGI when the company was first established in 1986 and, through hard-work (and a bit of shrewd negotiating) became a very significant NGI shareholder. After NGI was sold to ARC (in December 2007), Greg stayed on (for 2+ years) to manage the transition from NGI management to ARC management. Recognizing Greg's talent, dedication and devotion to mission, ARC appointed Greg "President of ARC Florida operations" in the Spring of 2009.

I learned quite a lot from Greg over the years we were together in business, including the definition of the term "double-wide", the true meaning of the word "redneck", and how to drink a six-pack and still be able to carry on a coherent discussion (actually, I failed miserably at the latter.) Greg will be missed by everyone who worked with him; he was not only an organizer and motivator, but a person who truly cared about those who were a part of the team.

Good luck and good health to you, Greg, and remember to invite me to the grand opening of "Big Greg's Bahamas Beach Bar", when you finally get around to buying your own private island in the Bahamas.

CLARIFICATION: After reading this post, Greg felt it important to point out to me that he has NEVER owned a "double-wide."

Ode to a retiring ex-NGI associate - David Fitz

This past weekend while out to dinner, I bumped into one of my ex-NGI associates, David Fitz, CPA. David told me that he's announced his retirement from NGI. If I'm recalling this accurately, David joined NGI around 3 years after I joined NGI, and we worked together for approximately 7 years (of my 10 years with NGI.)

About David Fitz: he joined NGI as our Controller and, actually, David was the only Controller NGI ever had. We also had a CFO, Craig Hubbard, CPA (who worked part-time), and it was Craig who convinced David Fitz to join the NGI team. (I may have mentioned Craig Hubbard in one of my previous posts, but, if I did not, he's the smartest tax I've ever met.) Anyway, David Fitz, our Controller, was absolutely fantastic. He not only implemented systems to timely and accurately gather up and report our monthly, quarterly and annual numbers (and comparative statistics as well), he, along with our CFO, taught our management team how to use "the numbers" to review performance and to plan improvements. He not only led our crew of bean counters, he also served as our HR resource, directed our Billing, A/R, A/P, G/L, Collections and Tax functions, and worked closely with our CFO on any matter related to finance, cash flow or information management systems. He was a part of our 8-person management team and participated at all Board of Directors meetings. One could not find a finer, smarter, more dedicated Controller than David Fitz. We were blessed to have him as a part of our team, and he was a true team player.

To David Fitz (who, I'm sure does not read my blog, but, whatever....) - thank you for being a part of NGI's team when I was on board, and good luck and good health in retirement!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

AIA ABI Index for March 2010 (follow-up to my post of April 15th)

On April 15th, I posted an article about the AIA ABI Index, and, within that article, I mentioned a bet I made with a friend.

Well, I won my bet; the AIA ABI Index for March 2010 was 46.1, so still below 50.

For those of you who did not see the AIA Press Release about the March 2010 ABI Index, it appears below:

For immediate release:
Washington, D.C. – April 21, 2010 – On the heels of a more than two point gain in February, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) was up again in March. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the March ABI rating was 46.1, up from a reading of 44.8 the previous month. Though this score reflects a continued decline in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings), it is the highest score since August 2008. The new projects inquiry index was 58.5.

“This is certainly an encouraging sign that we could be moving closer to a recovery phase, even though we continue to hear about mixed conditions across the country,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Firms are still reporting an unusual amount of variation in the level of demand for design services, from improving to poor to virtually non-existent. This increasing volatility is often a sign that overall business conditions may begin to change in the coming months.”

Key March ABI highlights:

Regional averages: Midwest (50.5), Northeast (47.0), West (46.0), South (44.4)
Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (47.3), institutional (46.8), mixed practice (45.0), commercial / industrial (44.7)
Project inquiries index: 58.5

Monday, April 26, 2010

Estimates for ARC (NYSE: ARP) for Q1 2010

According to the estimates published on Yahoo Finance, these are the "analyst estimates" for ARC for Q1 2010:
Sales - From a low of $109.0 million to a high of $111.5 million
EPS - $.02

My estimates for ARC's Q1 2010 results are as follows:
Sales - $106.1 million
EPS - $.01

ARC is expected to report its Q1 2010 results on May 4, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Important to attend the IRGA Convention in Palm Springs, CA in May

The other day, I received in my e-mail inbox an e-mail from Mike Cully, President of the IRGA. In that e-mail, Mike urges reprographers to attending this year's IRGA Convention, which will be held in Palm Springs, CA, May 19-21, 2010.

In his e-mail, Mike puts forth a David Letterman-like list of the "top 10 excuses" reprographers are giving (or, apparently, are thinking) for not attending this year's IRGA convention. You can see that list below, and my favorite is #10.

Excuses, excuses, excuses. Even if you feel you cannot afford to attend the full convention, consider attending one day, Thursday, including the networking reception in the evening.

I've mentioned this FACT in previous posts on my blog-site, but I want to mention, again, that the "networking experience" you get an an IRGA convention is INVALUABLE. That is not an opinion, that's a fact. Had I not attended IRGA conventions over the years, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that my career(s) in the reprographics industry would not have been as successful as they were. At IRGA Conventions, I've met many, many knowledgeable, influential and connected reprographers, and networking with those I met allowed me to form friendships, partnerships and industry related ventures. Take Mike Cully's advice, go out to the IRGA in Palm Springs in May.

10. "The damn economy." Everyone is hurting. This isn't going to last forever, so we need to prepare ourselves and 
our companies for what's next. Waiting this one out is not an option. You need to try something new. Get out of the weeds for a few days and see the bigger picture.

9. "Business is down, can't afford it." Times are tight for many of us, including myself. But can you afford NOT to attend? In the grand scheme of things, if the cost of attending the IRgA is prohibitive, you've probably waited too long to address your business' most pressing needs. All of us have spent money on some crazy things that didn't work out. Meeting with other business owners and getting insight is not one of them. 

8. "Have to hold down the fort." Are you really going to have as much of an impact on your business as you could have by attending the IRgA, speaking with other reprographers and vendors and learning some new ideas/approaches to leading your business? The fort will remain standing. Trust me. Let go so you can grow.

7. "It's too far and too expensive." A good round of golf and a few cocktails in the 19th hole takes about as long as it takes to get to Palm Springs from the East Coast. Trust me, I know! Flight, hotel room and other costs make it about $2,000 per person max. This is an investment in your business. The IRgA Convention is no longer a family vacation. It's a business meeting surrounded by really nice golf courses. You might want to play a round or two during the Golf Tournament and after the meeting. 

6. "I don't need the education." Regardless of your experience, this industry is constantly changing. You will never know it all..."WHEN YOU'RE THROUGH LEARNING, YOU'RE THROUGH."

5. "I'm going to Palm Springs, but only to attend my affinity meeting." By making this decision, you will miss an important part of the information needed to know what is really happening in the industry. The affinity organizations (ReproMAX, RSA and PEiR Group) are all holding meetings after the IRgA, as is ARC. These meetings are happening to save you a trip later in the year - to "kill two birds with one stone." Those who attend only the affinity meetings are taking advantage of the IRgA bringing the industry together. This is an opportunity for our industry to become less fragmented and more cohesive – at a time when it needs it the most.

4. "It's the same old, same old. Been there, done that." Yes, we have a loyal following, but did you know that 10-15% of attendees are first-timers? Vendors are constantly introducing new products, services and ideas to help your business grow. They are partners that can help you develop efficiencies and generate additional revenue. We're shakin' it up. Education sessions will be held on the trade show floor in smaller groups, vendors will be giving prizes. This IRgA will be unlike any you have ever attended. 

3. "The IRgA is history." If the IRgA is history, then our industry is history. Of course, our niche market has become smaller but it is growing more relevant, more sophisticated and more dynamic. Change is difficult but progress is good. It is up to us, as members of this industry, to take charge of our industry and our association. Nothing is larger than the industry. We need to stand up and protect our livelihoods, not stand on the sidelines and throw stones at each other. 

2. "Nobody I've talked to is going." The leaders of our industry will be there - those whose companies will be better off because of the ideas and changes they will make to their businesses as a result. Quality is better than quantity. The right people will be attending - I promise. 

1. "My spouse won't let me." Now you have a problem! 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

GlobalGrafixNet Conference in Rome Italy (Joel's "wrap-up" comments)

I attended the GlobalGrafixNet(.com) conference in Rome April 16th and 17th [and, because the Iceland volcano ash is causing havoc with airline flights from Europe to the U.S., it looks like I’ll be “stuck” in Rome for a few more days. I guess there are worse places to get stuck, huh? I could also share with you some funny stories about how our European reprographer friends are planning to get back to their countries (trains, buses, rental cars, ferries, rafts, maybe even horses, mules and camels?), but I’ll keep those stories to myself.]

This was the 2nd GGN conference I’ve attended. The first GGN conference I attended was held in Prague, in the fall of 2008.

The master of ceremonies, for the GGN conference that just ended, was the same guy who did it for the previous GGN conference, and, as I said in an article I posted about the previous GGN conference, he (his name is Mats Lenngren) did an outstanding job; he is very organized and very interesting to listen to. (Mats is the Managing Director of GGN.) Bill Manos nobly assisted Mats in putting together an information-packed agenda.

There were a number of reprographers from many different countries in Europe at the conference that just ended. So many different native tongues. Lucky for me, the language of the conference was English!

There were a couple of “new” product introductions during the conference:

* XES introduced its brand new Xerox 6622 Wide-Format B/W high-volume, plain-paper, toner-based, multi-function system.

* HP introduced its brand new HP DesignJet T1200, which is a wide-format (44” wide), multifunction (ink-jet) system, single footprint, bound to compete head-to-head with OCE’s ColorWave 300 single footprint (also ink-jet) multifunction system.

* Although not brand new on the market, this was my first “touch-n-feel” look at HP’s (REMARKABLE) HP DesignJet L25500 large-format display graphics printer. This relatively new – and brand new Latex ink technology – wide-format printer is one fabulous printer – think about printing for indoor and outdoor applications without having to worry about lamination. One of HP’s marketing guys gave a great presentation about the media available for this printer, along with an amazing array of applications.

Vendors gave very information presentations – they did not just limit their presentations to “talking about their products”, they offered suggestions as to how to develop business and make money, and several also provided very interesting trend and statistical information.

Kevin Murphy (one of my favorite OCE guys), gave a very informative presentation covering OCE’s analysis of market trends, trends expected to affect reprographers over the next couple of years.

Scott Frame of Xerox (also a great guy), gave an equally informative presentation covering Xerox’ analysis of market trends, among other information he shared with GGN conference attendees.

GlobalGrafixNet made two important announcements:

* They announced several new member companies.

* They announced that they’ve decided to begin an initiative to use the GGN group’s combined purchasing clout with vendors to benefit GGN member companies. (Some of my blog readers may recall, from a previous post I did about GGN, that this sort of strategy, which benefits ReproMax members and benefits PEiR group members in the U.S., was missing from GGN’s strategy. Well, the announcement changed that, and that should benefit GGN members, going forward.)

Reprographers in Europe have, of course, felt the effects of the recession, but many said they think a turnaround (an upturn) will begin this year; they are hearing, seeing signs of it.

Although I am from the U.S., I feel compelled to say that attending a reprographers’ conference in Rome, Italy is a bit more interesting than attending a reprographers’ conference in Pittsburgh, PA. (that’s not a knock on Pittsburgh or a knock on the IRGA, …. I’m just sayin’….)

Finally, one of the HP presenters said that HP is going to be coming out with a wide-format DesignJet model that’s going to be a higher volume, production level model (yes, still an ink-jet based system); this, people, to compete with (OCE, KIP and Xerox) laser-toner-based systems that, to-date, are much faster than HP’s DesignJet ink-jet based printers. The guy would not give an exact date for the release of this system, since that’s a big secret. (Later on, after that guy’s presentation, I pressed two other HP guys to try and pry the secret out of them, but to no avail.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

As I’ve said on my blog several times before this, there are benefits to joining reprographics industry groups and associations. You can choose from GGN, The PEiR Group, RSA, ReproMax or the IRGA, or, maybe even a better idea, join one, two, three; the more the merrier.

I will be attending the IRGA Convention in Palm Springs, CA in May. See you there.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

AIA ABI Index - - - thoughts on future movement of this Index

According to what the AIA says about its "ABI Index", when the index is less than 50 that means that the Architecture Industry is in a declining mode, and, conversely, when the index is 50 or above that means that the Architecture Industry is in a growth mode.

The AIA ABI Index has been below 50 for quite a number of months by now. A few months ago, one of my friends and I agreed to a bet - I bet him that the ABI Index would remain below 50 for January, February and March 2010. He bet that the ABI Index would hit above 50 in Q1 2010. So far, I'm ahead. The AIA will report the index for March about 8 days from now. I don't think the ABI Index will see 50 or above for March.

I'm not much of a prognosticator, but, why not take a shot, anyway. I think the ABI Index will hit 50 or above in May 2010, and I also think that the Index will stay at 50 or greater for a long consecutive string of months. I think we are going to see the A/E Industry (in the U.S.) begin its recovery process, finally. It will take a while for that to benefit the Construction side of the business and A/E/C reprographers.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Major architectural firm closes it doors in Jacksonville, FL – a sign of the times

Major architectural firm closes it doors in Jacksonville, FL – a sign of the times; reprographers are not the only ones suffering from the depression that’s affected both the A/E/C Industry and the Reprographics Industry.

What awful news this is. Jack Diamond, the gentlemen mentioned in the article that appears below, was one of our customers when I was with NGI. Jack is, to put it very simply, an amazing person. One of the most outgoing people I’ve ever met. They refer to him as “Mr. Jacksonville,” but people who’ve had the privilege of knowing Jack could equally refer to him as Mr. Personality (as is the case with his wife as well.)

'Mr. Downtown' Jack Diamond's architectural firm closing
By David Bauerlein of the Florida Union Newspaper, Jacksonville, FL

The curtain is falling on the Jacksonville architectural firm headed by Jack Diamond, a civic leader known as "Mr. Downtown" for his support of revitalizing the city's core and designing its skyline.

Diamond, 65, said Wednesday that Rink Design Partnership Inc. faces severe financial problems. He said signing up new projects in the coming months would reverse the firm's fortunes, but fellow partners do not want to borrow more money to keep the firm going until there is a turnaround.

"This is the worst stress that I've been through in 40 years in Jacksonville and 30 years as a leader of various organizations," Diamond said.

The partnership will wind down in "an orderly and responsible manner" and use its assets to repay creditors, said Gardner Davis, an attorney for Diamond. The firm will continue working with clients to finish ongoing projects, and work with contractors to minimize disruptions, Davis said, adding that it will probably take 60 to 90 days for the wind-down period.

Davis said the recession caused "tremendous stress for every aspect of the construction industry. All the firms are reconfiguring and reengineering to prosper in a very changed business environment."

Diamond is senior principal of Rink Design Partnership. The other principals are Glenn Dasher, Craig Davisson and Tom Hurst, according to the firm's Web site. Hurst declined comment. Other principals could not be reached for comment. Diamond said Rink Design employed about 60 people at its peak. But layoffs have eliminated most of those jobs. The office was locked and deserted Wednesday except for a few executives. A recorded telephone message greeted callers.

Diamond has been chairman of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce, the University of North Florida Foundation, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, the YMCA of Northeast Florida and Visit Jacksonville. He was a founder of JaxPride, a nonprofit that promotes beautification of the city. He helped found the Non Group, an informal organization that worked behind the scenes. When that group disbanded in February, he became one of 50 members of its successor organization, the Jacksonville Civic Council, formed to advocate solutions for long-term issues facing the city.

According to his official biography, he was responsible for the design of several downtown buildings - the Prudential Insurance Co. office complex, the SunTrust Tower, tthe federal courthouse, and the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. He also has worked on renovations to Trinity Church in New York City and construction of the Alachua County Courthouse.

Ed Austin, when he was Jacksonville's mayor, called him Mr. Downtown in the early 1990s when Diamond helped shape River City Renaissance, a $230 million package that contained several downtown projects. More recently, Diamond served on a task force that recommended moving the convention center from its LaVilla location to a downtown location.

Diamond said Rink Design Partnership ran into cash-flow problems. "We owe a lot of people a lot of money," he said. He declined to provide a figure for the amount owed, saying attorneys and accountants will be making that assessment. Even paying the lease for office space at Riverplace Tower became a problem as the firm fell several months behind on those payments, he said. The coming demise of Rink Design Partnership has been accompanied by disagreements about what course the firm should take. Diamond said some partners favored declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy to liquidate the firm, which caused worried clients to call with concerns that the firm was going bankrupt. Davis said bankruptcy isn't an option. "There is no need for or benefit from bankruptcy," he said.

Diamond said he was able to get a line of credit that would have provided money for the firm to continue for a few more months while seeking more projects. He said he is seeing signs of economic recovery in the construction industry and intends to remain an architect with a firm in his own name.

Monday, April 5, 2010

IRGA Convention - The future of the Reprographics Industry - I stand corrected


One of my blog readers, Casey Simpson, who is on the Board of Directors of the IRGA and who is Chairwoman of the IRGA Education Committee and Convention, submitted a comment on one of my recent posts about the lack of a "real debate" about the future of the reprographics industry. Since Casey's comment was one that I did not want my blog-visitors to miss - for Casey's point is very important (it corrects a "mis-assumption" on my part) - I decided to turn her comment into a regular post......

Casey Simpson said...

Joel, as a Board Member of the IRgA, the Chair(wo)man of the IRgA Education Committee and Convention, I wanted to respond to your post. First, thanks for promoting IRgA Convention Attendance! We are working hard to make this a valuable and memorable show. Thanks, also, for highlighting some of the scheduled sessions - there are quite a few more that we are very excited to bring to our Membership.

But specifically, I want to address this statement:
'I was hoping to find at least one “breakout session” that would be kind of a real debate about “the future of the reprographics business and industry.'

I am VERY excited to tell you and your readers that we are taking your idea of a 'debate' to a whole new level! We will employ a meeting technique called Open Space Technology. It is a forum for discussion to tackle exactly the topic you are asking for.

Here is the description of the session, from the IRgA website ( Feel free to contact me anytime to discuss this concept.

IRgA Presents "Open Space Technology"
The Future of Reprographics: Where it is going and how can we change with it?

1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

At this year’s convention and for the first time, IRgA will host the innovative meeting concept known as "Open Space Technology" (OST). This simple yet productive session will focus on the topic: The Future of Reprographics: Where is it going and how can we change with it?

This session is your opportunity to gather and discuss, from your unique viewpoint, how you view the industry as it emerges from its current paradigm shift of being a print provider to a technology service provider.

The rest of the description can be found at the bottom of this page on the IRgA website:
I'd love to discuss this with you more!
Thanks Joel - as always, I enjoy your blog.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Distribute-then-print" - A/E/C reprographics "print-partner" services in Eastern/Central Europe

If you are in the A/E/C reprographics business in the U.S., the U.K., or in Western Europe and are serving A/E/C customers in your countries who are working on projects in these Eastern/Central European countries - Russia, Poland, The Czech Republic or Hungary - then I want to make sure that you know that Copy General in Europe - one of the largest A/E/C reprographics enterprises in Eastern/Central Europe, is available to serve as your print-partner for "distribute-then-print" services that you or your customers require.

Copy General in Europe operates A/E/C reprographics production centers in:
* Russia (Moscow)
* Poland (Warsaw)
* The Czech Republic (Prague, Brno, Pilzen)
* Hungary (Budapest)

For reprographers who are working with A/E/C customers who want to get prints (plans and specs, or what's also referred to as project-documentation) delivered to recipients located in Russia, if you print outside Russia and then ship the prints to Russia, you will be faced with customs inspections delays, sometimes days, sometimes more than two weeks and, if and when that happens, that will not put you in a good light with your customers. If you send digital files to Copy General in Moscow, CG can produce, finish and deliver/distribute print orders for you, avoiding Russian customs inspection delays.

Your contact for Copy General in Europe is Patrick Snodgrass, Regional Sales Director; his e-mail address is (And, yes, Patrick speaks English; he is a U.S. guy working in Europe.)

At this year's IRGA Convention - the reprographics business and industry - "Future" - "Survival" - "Post Recession"

The IRGA annual convention will be held in Palm Springs, CA, May 19-21, 2010.

I will be attending this year’s convention. I hope to see some of you there.

I’ve been told by friends that attendance at this year’s convention will be down, compared to previous years. I had remarked, in a post I did about the 2009 convention (the one in Pittsburgh), that attendance at that convention was light, compared to previous years. Even though business is down, I encourage you to attend the convention, even if doing so is only so that you can network with others in the industry; this to talk about strategies for now and the future.

When I looked at the list of “presentations” and “educational breakout sessions” for this year’s convention (which you can find at, I was hoping to find at least one “breakout session” that would be kind of a real debate about “the future of the reprographics business and industry.” Even though there are a few presentations/sessions that look like they are going to talk about “future” and “survival” and “post recession”, I am sad to say that, apparently, NOT ONE OF THEM is really going to provoke the real debate that owners of reprographics businesses should be having … that debate being: the future of the reprographics business and industry from a sales and profitability perspective – especially considering future revenues from “prints-on-paper”, which, for most reprographers, represents 85% or more of their revenues.

Just a guess, but I would imagine that that particular topic is one topic that everyone dreads, and the one that no one really wants to debate or discuss. (Why not just bury our heads in the sand; whatever is going to happen, will happen, no matter what we do, so why bother to debate or discuss it? Or, As Alfred E. Newman might have put it, “What, Me Worry?”)

Here are the presentations/break-out sessions planned for the IRGA:

Paperless and Virtual – Future of the AEC Industry and Reprographics,
Bob Middlebrooks, Industry Programs Manager, Autodesk
Adapting to change and becoming an extension of a firm's every practice, with a strong portfolio of support options, is the key to future survival. Understanding the impact of these virtual technologies, the demographics of the market, the future needs of the design professional, and the future of a collaborative AEC industry will help you position yourself for those opportunities.

Joel’s comment: Well, even if one understands the “portfolio of support options” they should offer in the future, is that really going to be the “key” to their future survival? The “key” to future survival can be expressed much more simply: How, in the future, can I, and will I be able to, generate revenues that exceed my total costs?

Survival of the Reprographics Industry... Evolution
Shaun Meany, The PEiR Group
In this session Meany will discuss five effective strategies for positioning your reprographics business for success in the new economy. Owners and managers of reprographics companies are aware of many of the trends that are forcing the evolution of the reprographics industry but many do not know how to take advantage of these trends for maximizing sales, market share and profitability.

Joel’s comment: Well, Shaun is one of my favorite speakers. But, Shaun, survival will depend not just on taking advantages of trends and maximizing sales, market share and profitability, but on “the total sales” a company will need to generate in order to generate the total amount of profits the business owner will need to earn a decent living (and, someday, be able to afford to retire.) We cannot spend percentages, we can only spend dollars. If, in 2007, I had 180 employees and was doing $23 million in sales (and earning very decent profits), then even if, in 2011, I have twice the “profitability (percentage-wise)” that I had in 2007 - but my total profit dollars, for 2011, are well under what they were in 2007 – how is that survival? In other words, even if I adopt the five effective strategies Shaun is going to talk about, how am I going to survive if my prints-on-paper revenues decline by 50 or 60%? (unless, of course, I’m willing to seriously down-size my printing capabilities, my production facilities and my manpower, which is what the “real debate” should be about.)

The Amazing Race: What the Data Says about the Post-Recession Economy
Anirban Basu, Sage Policy Group, Inc.
The focus of this presentation will be the respective outlooks for the global and U.S. economies and implications for the reprographic industry. Particular attention will be given to the business performance, labor markets and risks to the economy.

Joel’s comment: I hope this speaker understands that reprographers are not just suffering, sales and profit-wise, because of the huge downturn in the design/development/construction industry, but are also suffering from two trends – “distribute-then-print” and “printing to CD’s and DVD’s instead of printing to paper” – that are serious and expected to accelerate in the future. If all this speaker is going to talk about is “when” the design/development/construction industry is going to come back to life, well, we all know that that rebound will happen, eventually. But, just because we see that rebound, does not guarantee that our industry’s revenues will pop-back-up commensurately (as was always the case when past recessions ended.)

- - - - - - -

Joel’s last comment for this post: If you are going to be attending this year’s IRGA and want to get into a debate/discussion with others to debate the real question that should be debated this year – “what is the future of the reprographics business and industry and what will I need to do with my business in order to survive in the future and make enough money to warrant being in the business in the future?, well, then, I would encourage you to gather up people at the networking reception on Thursday night, then retire to someone’s hotel room or suite to get into this debate/discussion. I’d be happy to host such a get-together.

Printing businesses are struggling and suffering; that should not be a surprise to any of us!

This post is a bit “off-topic,” but that’s only because the information that appears below came from a web-site primarily focused on the “printing” industry, as opposed to the “reprographics” industry. We in the reprographics industry do know that there are similarities between businesses in the printing industry and businesses in the reprographics industry, and, since the information I read in a couple of posts on “” were particularly thought provoking, I decided to talk about them in this post on my blog-site.

First, someone did a post about “do you know your Z score?” I’ve never before heard that term, but, after reading about what that is (what the Z score is), I found it very interesting, and I would suggest that reprographer-owners compute Z-scores for their companies, simply to see what the outcome is. This is the post that talks about the Z-score:

Do You Know Your Z Score? You Should!

By David Dodd on March 25th, 2010
It’s no secret that the past 12 to 24 months have been especially difficult for many printing companies. Dr. Joe Webb is estimating that the printing industry lost 2,844 firms in 2009. Bankruptcies, foreclosure auctions, and other closures have been well documented by WhatTheyThink as well as by other trade publications.
Having a clear picture of your company’s financial health is always important, but it becomes essential when business conditions are difficult and the margin for error is reduced. And while no single tool or formula provides a complete picture of financial health, one popular measure is known as the Z Score.

The full post and the formula used for computing a company’s Z-score can be found at this Internet address:

Secondly, there was another post – actually, an interview – on the site that talked about the shut-down (the closing) of a printing company. In this “interview” article, the owner of the company that was shut-down responds to questions, basically, about “what happened?” This particular printing company was 33 years old (the owner who shut down the company, owned it for the last 22 of those years.) Sad article, but revealing and interesting (and provokes “food for thought” for any struggling printing OR reprographics business owner.) Here’s that post:

Jim Duffy talks about closing Alonzo Printing
By Gail Nickel-Kailing on March 16th, 2010
In mid-January, Alonzo Printing closed its doors after more than a year of struggling financially. Jim Duffy, owner of Alonzo Printing for 22 years, shared his thoughts on the closure and had some advice for others in the same situation.
WTT: Alonzo Printing was not just a flagship green printing company, but seemed to be a successful web, sheetfed, and digital printing company. And yet, in January 2010, after 33 years in business, you shut the company down. How did it all unravel?

The full post and can be found at this Internet address:
and, I encourage readers to go to that post and read all of the “replies” to that post, because many of the replies are quite interesting and thought-provoking. One of the replies was this one:

By Kate Dunn on Mar 17, 2010 | Reply
No one should have been “caught off guard” by this situation. As communication channels have expanded and been adopted by the population it should have been a “no brainer” that print volumes were going to go down. Other channels offer better ways to communicate some messages and to get those messages to some people. The recession only sped up the process. The fundamental problem here is that the business model for most printers was and is based on volume. The more you run, the cheaper it gets. There simply isn’t enough volume to go around and the industry is self-correcting. If you don’t have the volume to bring your costs down but the market will only bear a certain price – you lose money on the things that you sell. It doesn’t take long to run out of cash especially when you owe on a lot of iron. Just putting in digital equipment doesn’t fix the problem especially if you are still selling digital or purls or store fronts on price. As long as the sales people in this industry can’t figure out how to solve a strategic problem and create value for their clients, this is going to continue unless of course you can find enough volume to make the old model work which is a really big if.

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Now, I’m going to make one last comment. If you are an owner of a reprographics company and your business is struggling (and is likely to continue to struggle, to the point where you might just end up on the brink…), you might want to consider the idea of approaching one or more of your competitors to discuss “merging” your businesses together. That is not only a valid business strategy when times are good, but is also a valid business strategy when times are bad. Two can live cheaper than one. However, any merger (or otherwise consolidation of two or more former competing businesses) requires that the owners swallow their egos.

Construction Spending in the U.S. Decreases to Seven-Year Low

This article appeared in Business Week, this morning ….

Construction Spending in the U.S. Decreases to Seven-Year Low
April 01, 2010, 10:08 AM EDT
By Courtney Schlisserman

April 1 (Bloomberg) -- Construction spending in the U.S. fell in February to the lowest level in more than seven years, signaling this part of the economy remains in a recession.

The 1.3 percent decrease to $846.2 billion, the lowest since November 2002, followed a revised 1.4 percent drop in January that was more than twice as large as previously estimated, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington.

Housing will be slow to rebound as foreclosures climb and Americans are uncertain about job prospects. At the same time, commercial and government building are also slumping, restrained by a lack of credit and swelling budget deficits.

“It’s one of the headwinds that we’re facing,” Michael Moran, chief economist at Daiwa Securities America Inc. in New York, said before the report. “There’s plenty of excess capacity in business world, plenty of vacant buildings and state and local governments are facing tight budgets so their spending is weak as well. In residential construction, we started to do better last spring and summer but we seem to have stalled.”

Construction spending decreased 13 percent in the 12 months ended in February.

Private residential construction spending fell 2.1 percent in February from a month earlier, taking it to the lowest level since September, today’s report showed.

Private non-residential construction decreased 0.4 percent from January, reflecting declines in commercial, office and lodging projects. Public spending dropped 1.7 percent from a month earlier, as state and local governments trimmed outlays by 1.8 percent. Federal construction fell 0.3 percent.

Economic Growth. The U.S. economy grew at a 5.6 percent pace in the final quarter of 2009, the Commerce Department reported last week. Commercial construction fell at an 18 percent pace, while homebuilding expanded at a 3.8 percent rate, the figures showed.

A renewed slump in residential construction may hurt growth this quarter as sales of new homes fell to the lowest on record in February. Also, housing starts declined last month.

Housing may get some support next quarter from the government’s extension and expansion of an $8,000 tax credit for home buyers. The program requires that contracts be signed by the end of April and closed by June 30.

Lennar Corp., the third-biggest U.S. homebuilder by revenue, said March 24 that cuts in administrative costs and reduced buyer incentives helped narrow its quarterly loss. “We are extremely well-positioned to navigate the rocky bottom and ultimate recovery that lies ahead,” Chief Executive Officer Stuart Miller said on a conference call with investors.

--With assistance from Hui-Yong Yu in Seattle. Editor: Carlos Torres
To contact the reporter on this story: Courtney Schlisserman in Washington at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at