Production Print Equipment: Dealers Share Insights into Market Opportunities

Give Paul Archer bonus points for self-awareness. The president of Automated Business Products (ABP) in Centennial, Colorado, is acutely aware of the magnitude of (and boundless opportunities for) growth within the production print space. And he’s spreading the gospel to anyone who is willing to listen.

Archer makes no bones about the fact that ABP is a low market share dealer when it comes to production print, our November State of the Industry focus. He sees a “significant blue ocean” in all the market segments. The problem is, as he sees it, most dealers have no idea what their market share is, thus cannot wrap their arms around market potential.

Paul Archer, ABP

In fact, Archer introduced all the members of the Select Dealer Group dealer peer organization to the practice of calculating market share. “Most were surprised at the outcome because the finger in the air method led dealers to believe their market share to be bigger than it was,” he observed. “Production print is a very large segment, one in which we have very low share. We think the opportunity exists to significantly grow this segment of our business.”

Richard Ostrowski, Docutrend

Richard Ostrowski, professional services manager for Docutrend of Totowa, New Jersey, sees tremendous opportunities within the dealer’s core of print service provider clients, who are drawn to specialty print on unique substrates and the more advanced finishing requirements they crave. But for the corporate reprographics department, the desire for consistent output with user-friendly controls is the main thrust.

“Many of today’s CRDs are either unmanned or using shared resources, so the devices need to be as easy as an MFP or much more capable,” Ostrowski noted.

Red-Hot Solutions

Bob Maxwell, KOMAX Business Systems

The growth trend in offerings such as web-to-print, packaging, labeling and high-speed inkjet solutions offer solid opportunities for dealers such as KOMAX Business Systems of South Charleston, West Virginia. Company President Bob Maxwell notes that having reliable remote access for customers has become a business essential.

“Packaging, labeling and high-speed inkjet solutions continue to become more accessible to a broader array of print service providers, making their ROI more alluring to our customers who have outsourced these jobs in the past,” he said.

Stephanie Keating Phillips, AIS

One of the more universal criteria being sought by end-users in a resource-challenged business environment is the ability to perform more tasks with fewer people at the helm, notes Stephanie Keating Phillips, director of solutions for Advanced Imaging Solutions of Minnetonka, Minnesota. Fewer touches and less user intervention, along with fully automated processes, are significant conversation starters.

“We continue to see the need for fast and consistent color, and in-line finishing is becoming more of a request,” she said. “Time is money and uptime is of utmost importance to these production clients. Having products that can do more all-in-one solutions is key. One example of what clients request is a production color machine that can run all their stocks, provide in-line finishing and also run envelopes at the full-rated speed. This type of device allows for more clicks on our machines, and customers love that they can do more with less.”

Fisher’s Technology of Boise, Idaho, sees significant opportunities in the industrial print market, with wide-format, label printers and inkjet printing providing the best growth opportunities. According to Eric Strand, production print specialist, the SMB space is most intriguing.

“The SMB opportunity is another growing segment for Fisher’s as the smaller production equipment continues to be more capable with handling thicker paper and not needing a dedicated operator.” Strand said.

Vertical Targets

Chip Miceli, Pulse Technology

Large-format printing falls into the wheelhouse of many key industry sectors served by Pulse Technology of Schaumburg, Illinois, including municipal planners, architects, engineers and designers. Chip Miceli, company president and CEO, points out that one of the challenges in print production color work stems from the changing workforce.

“A large number of businesses are figuring out ways to job out printing needs and avoid in-house production,” Miceli noted. “That isn’t to say that there isn’t opportunity in that space; it is just more challenging than some of the other sectors.”

Ray Bullins, production print and business solutions manager for Systel Business Equipment of Fayetteville, North Carolina, notes growing demand in the digital short-run label space, on-demand packaging and wide-format flatbeds. Like his colleagues, Bullins points out that specialty printing continues to grow in popularity.

Ray Bullins, Systel Business Equipment

“As a printer, either in commercial spaces or in-plant/CRD, it is no longer enough to simply put marks on pages and finish the document,” he said. “Providers need to think of themselves as their customers’ content managers, meaning they handle all stages of the document that is not only printable, but can be texted, emailed or printed. Documents that contain variable data, augmented reality and interactive features may lead them to a personalized webpage and even tracks the success of any document.

“Moving forward, the truly successful shops are going to be having deeper conversations with their account manager beyond the feed and speed of the equipment they are purchasing.”

Erik Cagle
About the Author
Erik Cagle is the editorial director of ENX Magazine. He is an author, writer and editor who spent 18 years covering the commercial printing industry.