Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Washington Reprographics Changes Name to Printscape

Washington Reprographics is changing its name to Printscape.

John Dziak, owner and CEO of Printscape, said the new identity reflects the company's growing scope of capabilities. Founded in Washington, PA, in 1977, as a local reprographic services and supply company, the company now known as Printscape serves the architectural, engineering and construction industries, as well as universities, retailers, pharmaceutical and public service companies throughout the United States.

"The new Printscape identity reflects our ability to be a total imaging, packaging and graphics solutions provider for organizations across the country," explained Dziak. "It is designed to tell our existing customers and future prospects that we're moving aggressively to diversify our services so we can meet the expanding needs of their businesses."

In addition to its popular digital, on-line construction document management system and print-on-demand finishing services, Printscape has produced high-end monumental graphics for the new Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, in-store signage for TREK bike stores nationwide and other high-visibility projects.

Printscape is headquartered in Robinson Township, PA, and operates stores in downtown Pittsburgh, Monroeville, PA, Canonsburg (Southpointe), PA, and Morgantown, WV. The company also serves dozens of national customers through a sophisticated and fully integrated web site that delivers cost-effective services customized to their specific needs.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Associated General Contractors - AGC- released new national plan detailing measures to stimulate demand for construction

AGC (Associated General Contractors) released a new national plan on March 15, 2011, detailing measures to stimulate demand for construction.

Titled, “Building a Stronger Future: A New Blueprint for Economic Growth,” AGC says that “the plan is necessary to reverse construction employment declines that have taken place in 317 out of 337 metro areas since January 2007, according to new data.” AGC goes on to say, “the industry continues to shed jobs because demand for construction remains weak. While $884 billion was invested in construction in 2009, that amount shrank $100 billion in 2010 to a ten year low. That decline in construction activity has largely been driven by a collapse in private sector demand.”

That $100 billion decline in construction investment, 2009 vs. 2010, represented an 11.3% decline, year over year.

On March 10, 2011, we did a post about ARC’s “U.S.” Sales, 2010 vs. 2009. In one of the paragraphs in that post we said this …..

“ARC’s U.S. Sales, 2010 vs. 2009, declined 14.55% - compared to Service Point Solutions’ U.S. Sales decline of 14.44%. In other words, the U.S. Sales of both companies were off nearly the same percentage.”

When you consider that ARC’s U.S. Sales decline was an “overall” decline, meaning that, in spite of possible increases in ARC’s U.S. Sales due to ARC’s Riot Color initiatives in 2010, ARC’s “overall” Sales declined by 14.55%, it “looks like” ARC’s revenues from the A/E/C sector declined more than the 3.25% difference between the construction-investment decline and ARC’s “overall” U.S. Sales decline. In other words, if we subtracted out “color” sales from ARC’s revenues, year over year, 2009 vs. 2010, and then compared just ARC’s A/E/C Sales, year over year, 2009 vs. 2010, is it possible that ARCs A/E/C Sales decline was even worse than the 14.55% “overall” decline? Could that be attributable to A/E/C customers printing less hard-copy prints per project? Since ARC does not break out it’s A/E/C Sales, we really don’t, and won’t, know the answer to that question.

Okay, back to the original reason for today’s post.

On March 15, 2011, AGC released a new national plan detailing measures to stimulate demand for construction.

Here are “links” to the different items presented by AGC:

Full press release.

Conference Call Remarks.

Building a Stronger Future: A New Blueprint for Economic Growth.

The Plan’s Fact Sheet.

Metro construction employment changes since January 2007.

Metro construction employment changes since January 2010.

Listen to the media conference call.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Article about MemJet

Very recent, interesting article – in the “Irish Times” - about MemJet. Article quotes “CEO” on Memjet’s strategy. Article mentions the billionaire (i.e., the “money”) behind Memjet.

The title of the article:

“Radical printer's road to market is a marathon, not a sprint”

Click on this link to access the full article:

RFP Competition for Internet-based Planroom and Construction Document Printing Services - Illinois Tollway Authority

Recent competition for reprographers to provide “Internet-based planroom services and printing services for construction documents for the Illinois Tollway Authority …..

From the “introductory” section of the RFP document:

The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (“Tollway”) is requesting Offers (bids / proposals) from responsible Vendors to meet the State’s needs. Below is a brief description of our needs with detailed requirements in subsequent sections of this solicitation. If you are interested and able to meet these requirements, please submit an Offer.

Brief Description: The Tollway is seeking a Vendor to provide on-call printing services of construction contract documents, as well as a website with the capacity to host Web-Based Plan Room Services for advertising, distributing, and archiving contract and utility permit documents, in addition to timely issuance of addenda (within 24-hours) to the Tollway's perspective bidders for projects included in the Tollway's Congestion Relief Program (CRP) and its annual Non-CRP projects.

The Vendor is to host a web-site to advertise bids on the world-wide-web to encourage competitive bid solicitations from contractors within and beyond Illinois’ borders. Contractors will have the ability to view and order construction contract documents as advertised by the Tollway. Additional capabilities include issuing and confirming receipt of addenda as authorized by the Tollway, archiving construction contract documents, utilities and permits, distributing the Tollway's Standards and Specifications, and providing on-call printing services. The web-site also provides transparency by allowing the contractors and Tollway personnel the ability to track plan holders for each contract.

To see the “Request for Proposals” document, clink on this link:

To see the “Bid Results” document, click on this link:

Joel’s comments:

Apparently, only two reprographics companies submitted proposals.

Given the state of the economy in the reprographics industry, I was very surprised to find out that only two reprographics companies submitted proposals. Perhaps that was an issue driven by location? I was “kind of expecting to see” ARC and ABC Imaging (who both have Chicago area operations) involved in this competition. Maybe this competition required vendors to be “small” or “disadvantaged” or “minority-owned” or “women owned” businesses? I don’t think that was the case, and, frankly, I have no interest in reading through the entire RFP document. I did notice that “price” was only 37.5% of the total evaluation factor. That was very surprising.

OCE Publishes White Paper on PDF Printing for A/E/C Firms


Today, Portable Document Format (PDF) files are used more than ever. And the architecture/engineering/construction (AEC) market is no exception. With Adobe® Reader® software being freely available for every computer, PDF has become the ubiquitous file format for electronically distributing, viewing and printing all types of data and information. Most reprographers report that PDF files have become the most common file type being received from their customers.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Further to RW Baird's "outperform" rating on ARC stock

Completely irrelevant to the previous post we did about RW Baird’s upgrade on ARC shares to “outperform”, effective March 25, 2011, let’s take a look back in time.

On May 22, 2008, the “ratings staff” at “The” issued an upgrade on ARC shares to “outperform”. Below, you will find the “complete story” that The presented on May 26, 2008, about their upgrade action on May 22, 2008.

(After you read this, then skip below to my comments)

TSC Ratings’ upgrades, downgrades ….. by The Ratings Staff, May 26, 2008, 10:29 am EDT

Each business day, Ratings updates its ratings on the stocks it covers. The proprietary ratings model projects a stock's total return potential over a 12-month period, including both price appreciation and dividends. Buy, hold or sell ratings designate how the Ratings group expects these stocks to perform against a general benchmark of the equities market and interest rates.

While the ratings model is quantitative, it uses both subjective and objective elements. For instance, subjective elements include expected equities market returns, future interest rates, implied industry outlook and company earnings forecasts. Objective elements include volatility of past operating revenue, financial strength and company cash flows.

However, the rating does not incorporate all of the factors that can alter a stock's performance. For example, it doesn't always factor in recent corporate or industry events that could affect the stock price, nor does it include recent technology developments and competitive dynamics that may affect the company.

For those reasons, we believe a rating alone cannot tell the whole story, and that it should be part of an investor's overall research.

The following ratings changes were generated on May 22 (2008)

American Reprographics (ARC), which provides business-to-business document management services, has been upgraded to buy. For the first quarter, revenue grew 17% year over year to $187.4 million, and earnings per share climbed to 41 cents from 37 cents. For 2008, the market expects an improvement in full-year EPS to $1.55 from $1.52 in 2007.

Return on equity has improved slightly year over year. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. When compared with other companies in the commercial services and supplies industry and the overall market, return on equity exceeds that of the industry average and significantly exceeds that of the S&P 500. With a price-to-earnings ratio of 11.86, the stock trades at a discount to others in its sector. American Reprographics had been rated hold since Feb. 5.

Joel’s comment:

When The issued this particular “outperform” rating on ARC stock, ARC’s price per share was around $18.00.

Personally, I think it’s kind of dumb for analysts, who don’t know a company well and who don’t know a particular industry well, to issue “sell, buy, and hold” ratings. I mean, what do they really know? In RW Baird’s case, they (meaning, the equities research analysts at RW Baird) have taken the time to study ARC’s business and have also taken the time to study the reprographics industry (quarterly IRga Surveys), including the challenges the industry faces and the opportunities it has to grow.

That does not mean that I agree with RW Baird’s outperform rating on ARC’s shares. Personally, I have no opinion on that, since I’m not an equities research analyst. But, given the fact that RW Baird’s equities research analysts have “invested the time” to understand ARC and the reprographics industry, I would think that investors, and prospective investors, should take RW Baird’s “homework” into consideration, when considering whether to act on, or not act on, RW Baird’s recommendations.

Okay, ARC shares closed yesterday (March 24, 2011) at $9.31 per share. “Today” is “day 1” of the RW Baird “outperform” rating on ARC shares. Let’s revisit this 3 months from now, 6 months from now and 12 months from now ….. to see if the recommendation was, from an investor’s perspective, a good one, or not a good one.

R.W. Baird upgrades American Reprographics Co (ARC) to “outperform”

Per an article on, “American Reprographics Company (ARC) Upgraded by Robert W. Baird & Co. to “Outperform” (March 25, 2011)”

03/25/2011 – 3:35 am PDT

Equities research analysts at Robert W. Baird & Co. upgraded shares of American Reprographics Company (NYSE: ARC) to an “Outperform” rating in a research note released to investors today.

If you want to read more about this, visit this web-site:

Joel’s comments:

Based on the upgraded rating – to “outperform” - it “sounds like” RW Baird’s equities research analysts are “bullish” on ARC’s future performance. Not knowing the details in the “note” that RW Baird issued to investors, I can only speculate as to the reasons why RW Baird’s analysts upgrated ARC’s shares to outperform. So, from a “speculation” perspective, here we go:

1. RW Baird sees a near-term resurgence in non-residential design / development / construction activity? Anyone who follows the AIA ABI Index is aware that the Index-reading has been 50 or above 50 in five out of the last six months. Could that be one of the reasons why RW Baird upgraded ARC shares to outperform?

2. RW Baird sees ARC gaining significant traction with “Riot Color”? By now, ARC has established at least 10 ARC “Riot Color” production centers in the U.S. ARC is pursuing color business in both the non-AEC and AEC segments. Could that be one of the reasons why RW Baird upgraded ARC shares to outperform?

3. RW Baird sees ARC gaining significant traction with FM and MPS initiatives? During the past three months alone, “Reprographics 101” has posted several articles about the MPS market space and about opportunities to move into, and grow in, that space. There’s heavy competition in that space from mega-companies, such as HP, Xerox, OCE, Ricoh, Canon. In spite of that, could ARC’s MPS initiatives be one of the reasons why RW Baird upgraded ARC shares to outperform?

4. RW Baird sees ARC’s “cloud” computing initiative (ishipdocs) gaining significant traction in months to come, driven partly by ARC’s upcoming (April) release of ishipdocs 2.0? ishipdocs one a Bertl award last fall for “the Best Innovative Digital Document Fulfillment To on the Cloud.” Could that be one of the reasons why RW Baird upgraded ARC shares to outperform?

5. RW Baird sees ARC gaining momentum from PlanWell Collaborate? Released by ARC’s PlanWell team last fall, it is ARC’s answer for A/E/C firms who want a technology solution, all combined, for project management, project collaboration and document management. Could that be one of the reasons why RW Baird upgraded ARC shares to outperform?

6. RW Baird sees some light at the end of the tunnel for the abysmal situation the “residential” design / development / construction market is currently mired in? Last month, sales of “new” single family homes hit an all time modern-era low (since statistics started begin kept.). If we’ve hit bottom, I guess there’s no way to go but up. Could that be one of the reasons why RW Baird upgraded ARC shares to outperform?

7. Perhaps ARC’s previously stated intention to aggressively pursue “market share” (i.e., take business away from “independent” reprographics companies” got RW Baird’s attention? During the past three years, business in the reprographics community has been awful for most reprographers. Perhaps that means that there are a number of independent reprographers who are now, or will shortly be, ready to sell out to ARC? Could that be one of the reasons why RW Baird upgraded ARC shares to outperform?

8. Perhaps one of RW Baird’s analysts read Service Point Solutions’ statements regarding the robust recovery SPS expects to experience in 2011 and beyond?

9. Perhaps one of the analysts at RW Baird has acquired a working crystal ball?

10. Perhaps one of the analysts at RW Baird has been working with a *Ouija-board?

Okay, I listed 10 possible reasons why RW Baird’s equity research analysts might believe that ARC’s shares rate an “outperform” rating at this point, so the list I put forth qualifies for David Letterman’s “top 10 reasons why”.

In September 2010, the AIA ABI Index hit 50 or above for the first time since December 2007, and, as we pointed out in a post yesterday on this blog, has been at 50 or above since then, with the exception of one “blip”. If the Chief Economist of the AIA (Kermit Baker) is right (regarding his characterization of the index as a predictor of future construction activity) then we “should see” an increase in construction activity 9 to 12 months from September 2010 – so, sometime during the period June to August 2011. From a reprographics perspective, and considering the fact that American Reprographics Co (ARC) is the largest reprographics company in the U.S. (and the World), and for RW Baird’s outperform call to prove to be a wise one, we should, I would think, see at least some evidence, by the end of Q2 2011, that ARC’s sales and profits are rebounding and beginning to grow once again. Personally, I don’t think that ARC’s Q1 2011 results are going to show much of a rebound, if any at all. But, by Q2 2011, and, especially, by Q3 2011, 2011, there has to be evidence of a rebound. If there is, then perhaps ARC’s shares will “outperform”. If not, then there’s always the chance that ARC’s shares won’t “outperform.”

I really hate to say this, but, in the past, reprographers have always benefitted from natural disasters that cause the destruction of property. Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, mudslides, and wild-fires cause significant damage to property. Property eventually gets rebuilt. Historically, the “rebuilding” process generates revenues and profits for A/E firms, for Contractors, and, yes, for reprographers. The recent mega-earthquake and tsunami in Japan were horrific. When you see the “before and after” photos of villages and towns that were literally wiped off the face of the earth, it is absolutely heart-wrenching. Our thoughts are with the people of Japan.

*From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

*A Ouija board (pronounced "wee-gee" or "wee-ja" and possibly derived from the French and German/Dutch words for "yes", oui and ja),[1] also known as a spirit/fire key board or talking board, is a flat board marked with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0-9, the words 'yes' 'no' and 'goodbye', and other symbols and words are sometimes also added to help personalize the board. The Ouija board can supposedly be used to communicate with spirits of the dead. Although nobody knows where the idea for such a device came from, there are records of Ouija-like instruments being used in ancient China, Greece, Rome and many other countries.[2] It uses a planchette (small heart-shaped piece of wood) or movable indicator to indicate the spirit's message by spelling it out on the board during a séance. The fingers of the séance participants are placed on the planchette, which then moves about the board to spell out words or become physically manifested. It has become a trademark that is often used generically to refer to any talking board.

Following its commercial introduction by businessman Elijah Bond in the late 1890s, the Ouija board was regarded as a harmless parlor game unrelated to the occult until American Spiritualist Pearl Curran popularized its use as a divining tool during World War I.[3] Mainstream Christian religions and some occultists have associated use of the Ouija board with the threat of demonic possession and some have cautioned their followers not to use Ouija boards.[4]

While Ouija believers feel the paranormal or supernatural is responsible for Ouija's action, it may be parsimoniously explained by unconscious movements of those controlling the pointer, a psychophysiological phenomenon known as the ideomotor effect.[5][6][7] Despite being debunked by the efforts of the scientific community, Ouija remains popular among many young people.[3]

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Where's the Reprographics Industry headed? Here's where the Printing Industry is headed ...

In a recent presentation by Dr. Joe Webb at the PrintCEO Forum, Dr. Webb provided these numbers, which really caught my attention …..


1990 – 816,000

2000 – 830,000

2010 – 495,000

2020 – Projected – 295,200


1990 - 45,311

2000 - 39,035

2010 - 26,859

2020 – Projected - 18,481

Dr. Joe Webb frequently publishes on, which is a web-site devoted to the “printing” industry. Many of “Dr. Joe’s” articles are too cerebral for me, but the presentation he gave at the recent PrintCEO forum was easy to follow and was, it think, very thought-provoking.

The presentation he gave is titled:

“Turbulent Path to 2020” - Are You Ready for a Revolution?” - and is about the technological, demographic, and other factors that will shape the print market of 2020. Slides and audio can be downloaded separately, for free. (Click “slides” or “audio” to download the presentation.)


Dr. Joe Webb’s Bio….

Dr. Joe Webb is one of the graphic arts industry's best-known consultants, forecasters, and commentators. He is the director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.

A 32-year veteran of the graphic arts industries, his "Mondays with Dr. Joe" column has become a must-read feature on WhatTheyThink since 2003. His economic forecast webinars and industry presentations assist C-level executives, owners, and analysts to understand how changes in the economy, technology, and the industry, affect their strategic decisions.

He is a Ph.D. graduate of the NYU Center for Graphic Communications Management and Technology (1987) and has served on the Center's Board of Advisors. He holds an MBA in Management Information Systems from Iona College (1981), was a magna cum laude graduate in Managerial Sciences and Marketing from Manhattan College (1978), and was a member of its economics honor society. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in marketing, market research, quantitative analysis, business policy, and organizational behavior. Dr. Webb started in the industry with Agfa's Graphic Systems Division, was a marketing executive with Chemco Photoproducts, and entered consulting full time in 1987. In 1994, he founded the influential TrendWatch information service, sold to multinational publisher Reed Elsevier in 2000. His first book, “Renewing the Print Industry,” received wide recognition, and was the subject of many keynote speeches and workshops.

His latest book, "Disrupting the Future: Uncommon Wisdom for Navigating Print's Challenging Marketplace" was published in Spring 2010, and written with Richard Romano, has been described as "the manifesto for a new generation of printers."

Printer diversifies into areas related to its traditional printing business

Reprographers aren’t the only ones looking for ways to ensure that their businesses remain relevant and healthy. One of our frequent blog-visitors pointed us to an article about a printing company, and here’s what he said about the “story”….

“Thought this was a good story from today about a traditional printer that is exploiting the new QR codes and getting into marketing for clients and doing websites. Whatever it takes!”

“Spectra Print stays strong in midst of Internet era”

“Like many printing companies, Spectra Print has been slowly bleeding business since the rise of the Internet. But instead of slowly fading away, the company is reinventing and repositioning itself to not only make up the lost sales, but to expand.”

“Spectra Print has begun offering social media packages and smart printing, two services that aren't far from the traditional printing and marketing the company has specialized in.”

“Neither of the new services require much change in infrastructure, just training for existing staff members and a few new positions. But company executives believe that as one of the first companies in the region to offer these tools, it will help provide enough new business that Spectra will grow in the coming years.”

Here’s a link to the full article:|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s

Survey of A/E/C firms regarding "the future of print" (Part 2, updated post)

This is an “update” to a post I did on March 22nd. I previously published “suggested questions” that I received from 4 industry friends. This update adds “suggested questions” received from a 5th industry friend.

On March 21st, I did a post on this blog to share with reprographers that I’m going to attempt to do a “survey” of A/E/C firms to elicit their perspectives on “the future of print.”

I explained in that post the reasons why I want to do this survey. (So, I won’t repeat the reasons in today’s “update” post.)

I e-mailed several repro industry-friends to elicit their “suggestions” for questions the survey should ask. While I’ve not yet received “suggested questions” from all who I contacted, I did want to share with you the responses I’ve received, so far.

It appears to me, and I’m not saying this facetiously, that “reprographers” do have a lot of questions they’d like A/E/C firms to respond to!

Joel, here are a few from me:

1. Can you get the technology related costs reimbursed from your customers?

2. When the business picks back up again for design and construction, would use of printed plans help you better to keep up with the deadlines.

3. Would you prefer to buy technology services from your repro company or from a new software company?

4. What are your top 3 document related issues?

Joel here are a few thoughts. Not in any specific order. You got me early today so keep that in mind:

1.Knowing what reprographers have provided as services in the past (printing, copying scanning, storing and distributing documents) what services do you see reprographers providing in the future?

2. Do you feel reprographers are essential to the AEC project document workflow or has technology (internet and digital documents) diminished their value in the process?

3. Do you feel that you can trust (with confidence) outsourcing your Enterprise Content Management requirements to a local reprographics firm? For example, would you rely on your reprographer to archive all your critical project related business records on the cloud or in secure data centers as a service, becoming your company's primary archive solution provider?

4.Could you envision your reprographer offering BIM hosting services, where the reprographer offers to host the BIM model on secure servers allowing various project team members to update the model?

5.Do you see value and advantages of reprographers position themselves as being a local vs. virtual technology partners?

6.Could reprographers offer training to the AEC community, and if so, what types of training programs would you see them offering?

Joel, here are a couple thoughts:

1. Is it going to just architects? I would suggest sending it to architects, engineers, general contractors, and subcontractors. You may want to have different questions as they use the documents differently.

2. The challenge I've found with surveys is there is an inverse relationship between the number of questions you ask and the response rate. We had this debate at the IRgA, and I made the argument do you want more data points or more questions?

3. If you follow #2 there are some obvious questions you could avoid (i.e. do you see yourself printing less in the future. I think most would say yes.

4. Here are some things I'd be curious about:

- Are paper plans necessary for accuracy OR are you confident that plans can be accurately read on a computer screen?

- With the distribution of digital information are you MORE or LESS concerned about people having the most current contract documents?

- Does the use of BIM reduce or increase the number of documents TODAY? What about 12 months? 5 years?

- How confident are you with the systems in place today to manage the storage and distribution of contract documents and changes to them?

- What is your level of confidence that your reprographics firm understands your processes for managing and distributing project critical documents?

Joel, you've cut a broad slice of industry change in your pro log .... and it ain't over yet. (Many of these questions are self-serving but intended to expand the dialog and gain client perception.)

- Is the security of online FTP sites acceptable for your project documents.

- The effectiveness of online collaboration tools during the design development phase.

- The use of private chat rooms for project team members.

- How important are integrated account tools to project management.

- Is the collection and management of project documents through the construction cycle adequately handled by existing offerings ... what are the products of choice.

- Has litigation.... increased the level of importance to justify digital records archiving.

Joel, I have writers block on this one. Hmmm. I could probably come up with 100's more, but since you have time on your hands, I'll let you come up with others! Feel free to use any of my questions and reword them please!

1) What products or services would you prefer to get from your local repro office if you could and why?

2) What is the biggest challenge you face in your business today?

3) What is the single most important technological change that has happened to your business in the last 5 years?

4) Do you see a growing need for color printed plan sets? Why or why not? Would you use this service if it could be proven that by spending $1 in color printing, you could gain 2 to 4 times that amount in reduced construction errors?

5) When choosing a new software vendor, what are the most important factors to you? (i.e. features, ease of use, training, migration, cost)? As a follow up, would you find value in a local company supporting your software needs?

6) Have you heard of MPS? Would that interest you if one company would handle all of your print technology needs? Why or why not?

7) If you use an FTP site, do you have a way of tracking use of the site for liability and do you track internal costs to managing the site within your business?

8) Do you find it difficult in finding qualified repro companies in other locations/states/nations when needed for your projects?

9) Is managing the "BIM" model among project team members a concern for your company? Are there issues with sharing the model (i.e. file transfer time, storage space, lack of collaboration tools)?

10) What are the biggest technology changes you see coming to your business in the next 2-5 years?

11) If there was one thing you would like to recommend to the reprographics industry, what would it be?