Although the NPES recent announcement of U.S. Printing Equipment shipments (www.piworld.com, November 2012) indicates a continued retraction in machinery purchases, this does not do justice to what we, at Howard Graphic Equipment Ltd., are noticing.
Since the recent banking crisis of 2008, it has not really been all about the general economy sucking work from Printers, but rather the continued growth of on-screen communications reducing and, in some cases, eliminating products we produce. Data distribution, in all forms, can be a losing proposition for our industry as many traditional Printing companies have found out first hand.
However, the renaissance period looks set to begin as major consolidations are taking place. This is a good thing as currently the amount of out of date machinery exceeds capacity. In the year 2012, we have certainly seen an uptick in sales from across the U.S. with sales of late model highly specified sheetfed presses. The NPES numbers don’t reflect this resurgence. Certainly, it remains that Printers (for the most part) still hesitate to commit to new machines. Perhaps, this is in anticipation of the watershed Digital age but, at least, for the present, with very high initial costs and low productivity, the digital offerings are limited to only a few choice applications.
Mergers & Acquisitions First and Foremost for 2013
For the year 2013, we look for further realignment of the Printing industry with many Printers still eager to amalgamate or be purchased by more aggressive firms that have changed their structures and are aggressively looking for more sales. The Web-to-Print business is thriving for a simple reason - sales. There are many firms that have reached a fork in the road. They ponder whether investing in high tech machinery is the answer or merging with another who has it. The new breed of owner is investing and, more than ever, interested in expanding this year.
Expect 2013 to be a welcome continuation of last year, with stronger margins and
positive cash-flows for those that see Print as an allied industry not an exclusive one.