New Task Force to Aid State Printing Industry / Business Improving

Article excerpt

The commercial printing industry in Oklahoma has followed the state's economy through the ups and downs of the oil industry. As a result, it recently has received the attention of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

The department has formed a "Publishing and Printing Targeted Industries Task Force" in order to determine what needs to be done to get the industry back on track.

Included in that task force is A. James Oldebeken, the local representative of Printing Industries of America Inc., the 10,000-member national trade association based in Alexandria, Va.

Oldebeken, based in Tulsa, was in Oklahoma City this week along with the association's chief economist, Robert Davis, in order to give the task force their ideas on what the future holds for the industry in Oklahoma.

That industry has the sixth largest payroll in Oklahoma ($170 million, according to 1982 figures) and is the sixth largest employer in the state as well, said Davis.

There is light at the end of the economic tunnel, both men said, and it doesn't appear to be a train. However, both added that it will be a while before Oklahoma's printing industry regains some of the losses incurred when the oil boom went bust in 1982.

Oldebeken said the task force will look at ways for the industry to identify new markets and perhaps expand existing ones in addition to teaching the industry how to "identify possible linking and networking capabilities with Oklahoma suppliers."

"Printing follows what happens locally," said Davis, as the industry "follows the health of the local economies." As such, it is necessary for Oklahoma printers to diversify their markets, going out-of-state to pick up business and to focus on specialty printing.

Specialty printing could include printing such things as legislative bills, corporate annual reports, and other financial forms.

The Journal Record Publishing Co., for example, prints bills and other forms for the Oklahoma Legislature and prints numerous other financial forms for other corporations which makes up a large part of the company's business.

Going to a specialized printing operation or going out-of-state has the advantage, the two men said, of untying a printer from the local economy. However, obvious drawbacks include increased shipping costs and other costs normally associated with dealing with customers in other states, i. …