Home' ProPrint : ProPrint February 2017 Contents UPDATE
12 ProPrint February 2017
How are you planning on
getting out of printing?
hether you are planning
on doing it asap, or you
have a nother twenty
years of working life to
get through, we all need
a plan. In fact we are often told we
should have had a plan before we
started on day one of owning our own
It used to be simpler – printing
equipment held value and there was a
continuing stream of people in the
trade coming up who aspired to buy a
printing business. People from outside
the trade were attracted by good
margins and the essential nature of
print to other businesses.
No need to tell you how things have
changed. So how do you get out now?
Let’s assume your kids aren’t
interested – they want to do something
else, or do not see much future in print.
You could try and sell outright but
that is a tough route. I have written
before about my own adventures in
trying to buy another printer, and
things have not become any better.
There are a couple of good business
brokers around who specialise in
printers, and they seem to be pushing
some decent sales through but I would
imagine they are picky about the
companies they represent.
You could try and merge into another
firm using an earn-out scheme. I
personally think this is a way out many
more printers should be considering,
but it is risky, and again only available
to you if your business has something
to offer the other company.
way out is going to be to pull the
shutters down, send the kit to India and
pay any leases out of our savings.
Hardly a great way to end an other wise
successful working life.
But maybe PIAA can help. At the
moment if you are looking for help with
your exit, you are probably relying on
your accountant, a broker or
consultant. Few of them would be
totally on board with the idiosyncrasies
of a printing business and the advice, at
least as I have found it, probably is not
But here is a potential solution - I
think PIAA should be putting together
an Industry Exit Scheme.
I am not proposing they try and
become a business clearing house –
they did briefly start down this track
once but it quickly became apparent it
was a bad idea.
No – I am suggesting they sit down
with the federal government and the
big industry suppliers/financiers and
put together a package that print
business could take advantage of to
help them get out with some dignity.
Maybe get a few tax breaks specific
to a capital intensive but declining
industry like ours, or help negotiate an
industry-wide lease pay out scheme
with the finance companies and copier
companies that would let owners pay
the leases out over a reasonable amount
of time with better ta x concessions.
Maybe even set up transparent
standard agreements that help exiting
owners transfer leases and other
obligations to other companies easily
and without penalty.
There are going to be a lot of
businesses over the next few years
forced to go through this process, and a
clear and cheap set of protocols set up
Look around the industry. What do you
see? Offset presses. Digital printers.
Wide format inkjet printers. Offset
litho was discovered in 1900, but did not
gain trac tion until the 1950s. Digital colour
printing was introduced in 1993. Wide
format inkjet came in 1995. Walk into any
plant, chances are they may have all three.
It took a while for all three printing
technologies to find their place in print
production. All three were challenged by a
status quo. Offset was once described as
only for quick and dirty printing. Ironically,
they said the same for digital colour. The
president of Xerox was quoted in the Wall
Street Journal saying almost the same
about inkjet printing (2004). Now Xerox is
becoming a force in inkjet.
Yet, all three processes make money for
printers. What will be the nex t big thing?
The technology is already here. We just
have to find markets for it.
Flatbed UV inkjet can print on any
substrate—plastics, wood, glass, board,
metal, ceramics, textiles, carpeting, and
more. Commercial printers print on paper.
Where is the market for printing on all
those other substrates? This brings us to
the market for functional or industrial
Printers print books, periodical,
promotional, informational, and utility
materials. Where is there a market for
printing on textiles? How about the
covering for your chair or sofa? Or printing
on glass to give you a Tiffany stained glass
look? How about personalised wallpaper?
Or artwork that matches a colour scheme?
Or personalised artwork on your carpet?
Emerging high margin market
by PIAA that they could follow would
be invaluable. And if PIAA can get
some financial concessions from
government or the suppliers on our
behalf, all the better.
These kind of schemes have been run
before – usually for industries that
involve some kind of government
licensing like fishing or taxis. These
industries can go into sharp decline
because of massive disruption from
new technology (think Uber/Ta xi) or
government action (like a state
government shutting fishing grounds)
and you may think it does not apply
But it does – we are being wiped out
by online challenges most of us cannot
fight - and the decline is being
exacerbated by government actions,
starting with the end of the compulsory
printing of annual reports, all the way
to Turnbull’s current war on paper. Our
problems are just being ignored
because they have occurred over a
longer period of time than other
industries, and because our industry
bodies have not really done anything
PIAA has set itself a sharp focus on
lobbying and they have some capable
people running their shop. One thing
they seem to be missing though is an
agenda beyond taking on Australia Post
(which is certainly a good idea). This is
something they can do that will help
those of us who want to get out safely,
and will make sure that the suppliers
and printers who remain have a more
stable and financially secure market to
Baden Kirgan is managing director
of Jeff ries Printing Services
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