What Do the Latest Printer Mergers Mean to You?
As a print buyer, I am usually dismayed with every acquisition or merger, as it usually means one less source (and competitor) in the print-buying process. The demise of competition may affect prices, but usually the blending of two companies creates a stronger company … hopefully keeping the better aspects of each company.
So many mergers and acquisitions have happened over the last 20 years. I have worked with these 25 different publication printers during that time: Holiday Press, American Signature, Foote & Davies, W.A. Krueger, Greenfield Printing, Combined Communications Services, World Color Press Inc., Northeast Graphics, United Litho Inc., Alden Press, William Byrd Press, Ringier America, Liberty Press, Hart Press, Banta Publication Group, Heartland Press, Dartmouth Printing Co., Perry Judd’s Holdings Inc., Perry Printing Co., Lancaster Press, Mack Printing Co., Pendell Printing, Penton Press, Cadmus Communications Corp. and Arcata Graphics.
I still work with them, however, they are now simply known as RR Donnelley, Quebecor World, Cenveo and The Sheridan Group.
Mergers and acquisitions have always been happening; Quad/Graphics Inc. bought W.R. Bean & Son’s Thomaston; Transcontinental Inc. bought RBW Graphics; Brown Printing Co. bought Graftek Press, Inc. Some have even shut down: Wisconsin Color Press, S. Rosenthal & Co., PennWell Printing Co. and Quebecor World’s Effingham, Ill., Nashville, Tenn., and Brookfield, Wisc., plants.
SO WHAT HAS BEEN THE RESULT OF THESE CHANGES?
Conventional wisdom would have us believe that with less competition, we, as print buyers, will have fewer options and higher prices. However, history has shown that exactly the opposite has happened. We currently have better print quality, more finishing options, faster turnaround, better communications, and quicker information due to integrated workflow systems and data sharing.
Oh yeah, prices are lower, too.
All of these positive industry advancements wouldn’t have been as quick in coming, or possible at all, were it not for consolidation. As companies merged, they kept (or at least tried to keep) the best parts of each organization. They offered more plants with more capabilities. They developed and invested in integrated technologies. Their efficiencies increased, their costs went down, and print buyers have benefited from it.