How the Bigger Get Better
Part one of a two-part series exploring how some of the largest prepress companies achieve major-league technology initiatives.
by Terri McConnell, Prepress Editor
Here we are again. At the point in the grand American economic cycle where it seems that big companies just keep getting bigger, while small companies battle for survival among the giants. As consumers languishing on the other end of perpetual hold, we might wonder just what's so great about the race towards consolidation. Frustrated with the complicated, sometimes dehumanizing experience of doing business with a corporate Goliath, it's easy to believe that mega-companies are endless, faceless entities where nothing ever changes except a few letters in front of the Inc.
Within our own industry, however, it is often the biggest firms that bring about the most significant changes. Endowed with financial and human resources beyond the reach of companies with less revenue, the $200-million-plus prepress corporations are transcending technological boundaries and re-engineering the way the packaging world goes to print.
Expansion into the end user arena
Chicago-based Schawk, Inc., is a case in point. Last year, over 70 percent of the company's $207 million in sales was from the packaging industry. Nearly 90 percent of those revenues were generated not through printing companies, but directly from end users—the consumer product companies.
Explains President and CEO David Schawk, "Since we first started to present technology solutions to the CPCs over 25 years ago, we've seen the end user/trade shop/printer business model change dramatically. While at one time trade shops and printers were adversarial about their relationships with the CPCs, today's technology allows us to provide unique services to the end user that get him what he wants, and benefit the printers and converters at the same time."
Those services include an expansion from traditional image carrier production into a suite of new Web-based products designed to help CPCs and pharmaceutical companies manage their products' brand identity. "It might not show up on the company's balance sheet, but a product logo is a huge asset," says Schawk. "The value we provide is in preserving brand equity by protecting the integrity of a brand's logo and key image elements, no matter where across the world they may be printed."