Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Reprographics 101 Blog – winding down

I initially set up (and put up the first several posts on) the Reprographics 101 Blog in February 2009.  This month (Jan 2014) completes five full years of pure unadulterated dribble.  For those of you who have been frequent visitors to the Blog over the past five years, my thanks to you for visiting the Blog and, most of all, for bearing with me.

At the time the Blog first commenced, the county (I’m referring to the U.S.) was already well into what eventually proved to be the worst, deepest and longest-lasting recession since the Great Depression.  Which is why someone coined the term “Great Recession” to describe this past one.  By all accounts, the Great Recession wreaked havoc on the reprographics business and industry; my own estimate is that the industry’s revenues, nowadays, are some 35-40% less than they were before the Great Recession started.  In addition to a decline in plan & spec printing revenues caused by a vast slowdown in the A/E/C industry, revenues have also been negatively impacted by A/E/C customers adopting ways to “print less”, the latter brought on by – or, I should say, “enabled by” - further “digital developments”, the latter, itself, made possible by the computers, laptops, tablets, readers, software, and, of course, the big bully in the room, the Internet (the latter, now including “the Cloud”.)

Around 1989-1992, the reprographics industry got rocked by a recession that seriously impacted the A/E/C Industry, but, when that recession ended, reprographics industry revenues rebounded – and, eventually, rebounded to revenue numbers well above what the industry’s revenues were before that recession started.  In fact, reprographics industry revenues during the period 1992 to 2007 advanced at a startling rate and, by 2007, reached numbers that I think no one would have imagined possible.  (Yes, I’m aware that some realized a blip brought on by the dot.com bust around 2000, but many reprographers were not hurt by the minor recession the A/E/C Industry experienced because of the dot.com bust.  If anything, a slow-down in/around 2000 gave everyone in our industry time to catch a breath.)

But, the rebound that reprographers are now experiencing, now that the A/E/C Industry is growing again, is not on par with the rebound that reprographers experienced after 1992, and, yes, the difference is attributable to the “digital developments” I mentioned two paragraphs earlier.  Today and going forward, reprographers are going to have to rely less and less on plan and spec printing revenues and are going to have to focus on, push into, rely more and more on other areas of the imaging business; large-format color graphics, MPS/FM services, document management services (including scanning and archiving) and software/technology that assists the mission of firms involved in the A/E/C Industry (and other industries as well.) Just my own personal opinion, the reprographics business of and in the future will be very, very different than it was in past times.  Very challenging times ahead, but there will be opportunities for those who are up to the challenge and who face the future with their eyes wide open.

That said, I do expect that the reprographics industry will experience further consolidation.  We are seeing that in the “printing” industry, and the reprographics industry will experience the same sort of thing over the next decade.

Another reason why I founded the Blog – the IRgA, the industry’s only independent group bringing information to the reprographics community, wasn’t doing a good job of that, and, when the industry continued to plunge, that situation got worse, and worse, and worse.  By 2012, IRgA membership had plunged to an all-time low, not just because reprographers wanted to reduce expenses, but also because the IRgA wasn’t giving reprographers a good reason to belong and participate.  Long being an advocate for an independent industry association, I took on the role to rebuild IRgA membership and, in an effort to support that, I moved the Reprographics 101 Blog to the IRgA web-site during the ten-month period I was the Managing Director of the IRgA (Aug 1, 2012 thru May 31, 2013).  During the time I was IRgA Managing Director, I paid Ed Avis to author articles for the IRgA web-site and Ed was tasked to solicit sponsors for the IRgA.)  On June 1, 2013, Ed Avis took over as Managing Director of the IRgA, and, speaking quite frankly, Ed has done an outstanding (repeat, outstanding) job in his role as Managing Director; he built a brand-new web-site for the association, and his efforts to put forth interesting, relevant content have been terrific and have well exceeded what I was capable of doing.  My “hat’s off” to Ed for the direction he’s taken, and is taking, the IRgA.  And, the competency that Ed Avis displays is one of the reasons why I feel that “it’s about time” for me to wind-down the Reprographics 101 Blog.  Industry vendors who are not supporting the IRgA should be very, very embarrassed. 

Since founding the Blog in February 2009, I’ve put up more than 2,000 posts.  (Over 1,600 of those appeared on the Blog-site hosted by Google’s “Blogger” blog service, and about 400 of those appeared on the Repro 101 Blog when it was hosted on the IRgA web-site.)  So far, the posts I’ve put up have hade more than 250,000 “page-views”.  The Blog has been visited by people from around the globe (reportedly, the Blog has had visitors from more than 75 different countries.)  Admittedly, some of the posts on the Blog have been very mundane, but some of them have bordered on the controversial.  Taken altogether, I do believe that the Blog has been informative – which was my intent – and I hope, sincerely hope, that you’ve enjoyed visiting Repro 101.  I’ve never wanted to waste anyone’s time, mine or anyone else’s.

The Blog is not going to shut down completely.  But, from here on out posts will appear less frequently.  Every post that’s ever appeared on the Blog will continue to be available on or through the Blog.  (A link to the posts that were put up on the Blog when it was hosted on the IRgA web-site is explained in the right-hand column of the Blog.)  For those of you who have been bringing, and are continuing to bring, younger people into the reprographics industry, consider pointing them to Repro 101 as “homework” for their education about the industry – and, especially, for information about the industry’s challenges.

Although I knew a lot of reprographics industry people before I started Repro 101, publishing Repro 101 (and my brief tenure as Managing Director of the IRgA) enabled me to meet hundreds more.  Although few took the time to post “comments” on the Blog, many, many people took the time to contact me via e-mail and phone calls.  I value the many friendships I’ve made over the 43+ years I’ve been in and around the industry, including the friendships I’ve made because I’ve been publishing a Blog about the reprographics business and industry.

To each and every one of you who are still involved in the reprographics business, my best wishes to you for luck and success.

To those of you who are now retired from the business, I hope you are enjoying retirement.  Take the time to contribute to the IRgA web-site; there are many young people who could benefit from your wisdom. Share!

Very truly yours,

Joel Salus


  1. I do agree with you that the repro industry will never be the same and will not "recover" as it did in the past. We must adapt and change.
    But, in general, our economy is not in a normal "recovery" and this further clouds the issue.
    According the "Index of Economic Freedom" (published by the Wall St Journal and the Heritage Foundation), this nation has fallen from the top ten "free" nations.
    That's a shock when one considers we used to be the beacon of freedom in the world.
    Yeah, we can discuss business trends and technology all we want. But we also cannot ignore the underlying politics. This country needs to alter course.

    Thanks for all your blogging. It has been informative and appreciated.

  2. Hi Joel - Thank you for your kind words about my work at IRgA, but it's also "hats off" to you for the excellent information your blog has provided over these past five years. The number of stories you "broke" and the depth of analysis you provided is unmatched. I sincerely hope you continue contributing your insights, in your blog or elsewhere, for years to come.

  3. Hi Joel,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your comments on ARC's yahoo message board as jstamp, and, then, upon learning about repro 101 was a regular reader, and still am to this day. I especially enjoyed your analysis of repro industry and your prognosis, the breakdown of ARC's performance (having worked there for 4 years), informative in-depth posting about other repro firms....I wish your all the best, and, like Ed Avis said, wishing you will continue contributing your insights, whether on this blog or via IRgA - I know I will be a reader, wherever your post.