Friday, January 6, 2017

Comments on APDSP Survey of Reprographers AND Comments on Pricing in the Boston Market Area

During October/November 2016, Reprographics 101 conducted a survey in the reprographics community, and two of the questions asked related to a) how the A/E/C “plan printing” business faired in 2016 vs. 2015, and b) how reprographers feel about “the future” of their business.

This morning (Jan 6, 2017) the APDSP (formerly the IRgA) published the results of a survey recently conducted by the APDSP; this survey, apparently, asked reprographers their feelings about business in 2017 vs. business in 2016.

Reprographics 101’s survey question – about “the future” of the reprographics business – wasn’t pointed at 2017; it was pointed at the future, beyond just 2017, i.e., “in years to come.”

One would hope (as I certainly do) that Trump’s statements regarding a massive government-influenced program on infrastructure spending will actually happen (and begin sooner rather than later), for, in the past when there was massive spending on infrastructure (whether it was government-financed or government-influenced), that generated good things (more prints) for reprographers.  Even if A/E/C customers are not ordering as many prints “per project” as they have been ordering in the past, any increase in the overall number of projects (and the size of projects) has to be considered a “good thing” by reprographers.

The recent APDSP survey question about expectations for business in 2017 vs. business in 2016 produced interesting responses:

I think business is going to grow substantially in 2017 – 19% (of respondents)

I expect some growth in 2017 – 64% (of respondents)

I think business will be about flat in 2017 – 9% (of respondents)

I think business will fall a bit in 2017 – 8% (of respondents)

Very worried, I think our business will take a big hit in 2017 – 0% (of respondents)

Considering the fact that none of the respondents in the APDSP survey indicated that they are “very worried about their businesses taking a big hit in 2017” is a good sign, and I think that good sign is the result of reprographers hoping that Trump’s statements (about a massive infrastructure spending program) will prove to be reality (and not just bluster.)  However, the fact that 9.62% of the respondents, responding to the Reprographics 101 survey question about the future of the A/E/C plan printing business, indicated a “dismal” outlook for the future of “A/E/C plan printing”, does not bode well for the future of the reprographics business beyond 2017, unless reprographers find ways to supplement or replace A/E/C plan printing revenues, which most reprographers expect to continue to decline, as more and more A/E/C customers continue the already-recognized trend towards printing less per project.

In the APDSP survey, only 8% of respondents feel that their 2017 revenues will be less than their 2016 revenues.

In the Reprographics 101 survey, nearly 19% of respondents said that their 2016 A/E/C plan printing revenues were less than their 2015 A/E/C plan printing revenues.

My take on the above two responses is that many reprographers are hoping that revenues in 2017 from “other services” (such as color display graphics services) and revenues generated from A/E/C plan-printing services (increased as a result of a massive increase in infrastructure spending) will make 2017 a far (or, at least a good bit) better year than 2016 was.  (Watch ARC’s financials to see if ARC experiences that.)

Blog Publisher’s comment about the reprographics business in Boston, MA.

In the APDSP article, the President of one of Boston’s oldest reprographers was quoted, saying, “every year seems like a struggle to just stay flat”. 

Personally, I have a bit of history with the Boston area reprographics market, having bought and operated a repro company there back in the mid 1980’s and since I’ve been living in Boston part-time since June 2008.  Construction activity has been quite strong the past several years, and, if the quoted person’s business is struggling to just-stay-flat (and, if that has been the case year-after-year), one reason for that is pricing in the Boston market.  Compared to other major markets in the U.S., pricing for plan printing services has historically been lower in Boston than in other major market areas.  Last time I looked (which was not much more than one year ago), government agencies in Boston are still paying less than $.03 per sq ft for plan-printing services.  It only takes one reprographer in a market to keep prices ultra-low.  I’ve previously posted articles on Reprographics 101 about price (“low” price-range) differences, market to market, in which I’ve said that there’s always going to be a range of “low” prices, but whether that range is $.08 to $.10 or $.03 to $.05 is determined by the mind-set of reprographics business owners.  When I entered the reprographics business in Boston in the mid-1980’s, it did not take long to figure out that “low” pricing in Boston was quite a bit lower than “low” pricing in the Washington, D.C. area.  Reprographers who do business in a “low-price” market have no one to blame for that other than themselves.  Over a very recent four-year period, when I saw lot of govt-bid-results (from all over the U.S.), Boston’s govt-bid-pricing was, comparatively speaking, ridiculously low.  Repeat, ridiculously low.

End of blog post.

Placed here for reference purposes: two of the questions from the Reprographics 101 Survey conducted Oct/Nov 2016

Better than in 2015 – 43.4% (23 respondents out of 53 total respondents)

Worse than in 2015 – 18.87% (10 respondents out of 53 total respondents)

About the same as in 2015 – 37.74% (20 respondents out of 53 total respondents)

We think A/E/C customers will be ordering fewer prints per project in the future than they have been ordering in recent past times – 51.92%

We think A/E/C customers will continue to order around the same quantity of prints-per-project in the future as they have been ordering in recent past times – 25%

More and more of our A/E/C customers are moving towards a “less paper” business model – 51.92%

We don’t believe that our A/E/C customers are moving towards a “less paper” business model – 13.46%

We think the future of the A/E/C plan printing business is good to excellent 7.69%

We think the future of the A/E/C plan printing business is “just okay” – 59.62%

We think the future of the A/E/C plan printing business is dismal – 9.62%

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