The Printing Industry

Article excerpt

Meeting change in technology with capital investment

he printing industry is America's biggest small manufacturing business. More than 52,000 printers operate throughout the 50 states, creating one of the most geographically dispersed manufacturing sectors in the country. Virtually every state, county and city has sizable printing industries.

But the average printing company is small; most employ fewer than 20 people. Because of that fact, the industry's prominence perhaps doesn't reflect its overall economic clout. Printing employed more than a million people last year and shipped goods worth more than $132 billion.

The industry is made up of large, medium and small firms ranging in annual sales from thousands to billions of dollars. Most printing companies are small businesses that generate significant jobs in their local communities. The average printing company posted $2.4 million in sales last year, a period that recorded 8 percent growth over the previous year.

Six broad sectors make up most of the printing services industry provides: commercial printing; forms, labels and tags printing; greeting cards printing; speciality printing; packaging printing; and trade services.

The printing industry is also capital intensive. It generates equipment purchases totaling more than $2 billion each year, present ing community bankers with significant lending opportunities.

Hard hit by the 1990-91 recession, the printing industry's performance has made a steady recovery since then After trending downward in the 1980s, the average printing company's profit before taxes on sales hit a low mark of less than 2 percent in 1991. …