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Print Industry Be Aware: OSHA updates its National Emphasis Program on Amputations

Posted Wednesday, October 21, 2015 by Gary Jones, Assistant Vice President, EHS Affairs Printing Industries of America.

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OSHA has updated its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on amputations and it is not good news for the printing industry. Due to the continued experience of amputations occurring in the printing industry, the list of covered printing types has been expanded from just commercial printing operations the previous version of the NEP. The covered printing operations now include the following segments of the printing industry:

  • Corrugated and Solid Fiber Box Manufacturing
  • Folding Paperboard Box Manufacturing
  • Other Paperboard Container Manufacturing
  • Paper Bag and Coated and Treated Paper Manufacturing
  • Commercial Printing (except Screen and Books)
  • Commercial Screen Printing
  • Books Printing
  • Plastics Bag and Pouch Manufacturing
  • Plastics Packaging Film and Sheet (including Laminated) Manufacturing

The significance of the NEP is that it provides OSHA with a legal basis to inspect any identified industry segment without warning or prior notice. Since the NEP has been released we are aware of several printing operations that have been inspected and cited for violations of machine guarding and lockout/tagout requirements. OSHA has been proposing the maximum penalty of $7,000 for each identified violation and has been itemizing all violations causing the proposed penalties to be in the mid to upper five figures.

All printing companies are urged to perform a critical review of their machine guarding and lockout/tagout programs to ensure they are current and compliant, including employee training and management oversight. If you need assistance with evaluation your programs, please contact the Printing Industries of America EHS Affairs team at or (800) 910-4283.


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Posted Monday, October 19, 2015 by Joe Rickard via

One of the most powerful selling tools is a customer reference. Customers like nothing better than networking and identifying successful solutions being offered to similar organizations. Putting a customer reference on a website, or providing references to existing prospects, is a smart thing to do. Obtaining customer references to prospect and identify new opportunities should be a part of any sales plan.

It is time well spent developing customer references

Most printing companies are facing changing market conditions. Differentiation is difficult and price pressures are intense. Gaining opportunities to separate from the competition to build trust and credibility with their customers is a key to success. We define a good customer reference as an advocate who has a set of products and/or services that has solved a specific problem or generated a significant opportunity in a specific market.

We are finding many print providers may have forgotten this proven marketing method to develop new sales opportunities. Research has shown that customer references help companies attract new customers and shorten sales cycles.

The best salesperson is a satisfied customer

Why would a prospect buy a high cost and high risk solution from a company that can’t produce a genuine customer reference? Sharing with potential prospects how a specific print-based offering has solved a problem that generated great results is a powerful selling tool. Not only will customers gain confidence in a particular solution, but salespeople will also build their own credibility and confidence with their prospects.

Customer references should be part of a company’s marketing strategy

Almost all salespeople agree that using customer references increases their chances of closing more business. The problem is that individual salespeople often guard their references. Then when there is a need for a reference everyone is scrambling. This usually does not end well.

What makes a great reference?

The value of a great reference can be substantial. For instance, a great reference would be an insurance client who is soliciting customers through direct mail. The problem is that they are getting a very low response rate. The print provider helps develop a direct mail piece that includes personalized content. The result is that the client gained a much higher response rate and subsequently gained 12% in sales revenue.

To capitalize on references, we recommend companies approach references in an organized way.

Set a guideline and target

You should look for clients that have had a business issue or opportunity which was solved by using a print solution that resulted in a great ROI. The sales team should have a specific type of client they are targeting for a reference. This should include the size of an account, type and size of offering, the market, the problems solved or opportunities created. It is best to have a specific format for them to follow.

Ask them for a reference

Most satisfied customers are happy to provide a great reference. Sometimes customers will not have the time to provide a written reference. A good practice in these situations is to draft one for the customer and then get their approval. Occasionally larger clients do not want their successes publicized outside the company due to fear of competitors getting a good idea. We find getting a good reference is part of good selling. Great salespeople get great references.

Document each reference in a consistent format

We recommend a simple but well-branded three part approach: what was the problem or opportunity faced by the customer, what was the solution provided by the print provider and what were the results generated for the customer. Having some information about the client such as industry, type of services, location, size will make the reference that much more powerful.

Market your references

How a reference is presented and displayed makes a difference. The reference should be branded, designed and part of an overall marketing strategy. It should be created to potentially be used in case studies, websites, printed collaterals, social media, PR and sales presentations.

Integrate them into the sales process

Once the customer references are obtained and completed, then it is time to ensure that they are used within the sales process at the appropriate time. Don’t wait until a customer asks for a reference. Use these to develop new markets and prospects. They attract attention and interest of clients.

For some, it requires closing the first deal and gaining a reference that can open the door to a new market segment. For others, they already have great customers that just need to be asked. Printing is a relationship business built on trust. Customer references have traditionally been an integral part of the selling process.

Using satisfied customers is essential to managing new opportunities and overcoming competition. Print providers selling large and complex programs, products and services are missing a big opportunity if they don’t use references from satisfied customers.

Joe Rickard is the founder of Intellective Solutions. Intellective Solutions ( works with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales, marketing and operational effectiveness. He can be reached at 845 753 6156. Follow him on Twitter @joerickardIS. This article was published in Quick Printing Magazine and

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Oregon’s Minimum Wage Will Not Increase

Posted Monday, September 21, 2015 by Jules VanSant.

Source: State of Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), Press Release, September 16, 2015

Despite rising housing, child care and other household costs, the state minimum wage will remain the same at $9.25 per hour in 2016, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announced on September 16.

Each year, Commissioner Avakian calculates the minimum wage by measuring the increase to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a federal figure published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics to track prices for a fixed “market basket” of urban goods. The figure helps track inflation across the country, but does not fully capture local cost increases, such as skyrocketing rents in the Portland or Eugene metro areas.

About 100,000 workers—six percent of the state’s workforce—currently earn the minimum wage. For full-time workers, Oregon’s wage floor translates to less than $20,000 a year.“It’s time to take action on wages,” said Labor Commissioner Avakian. “The reality is that Oregon’s wage floor is not keeping pace with the rising cost of rent, child care and other expenses. We should raise our state’s minimum wage so that people working full-time can afford to provide for their families.”

A common misconception about employees earning a minimum wage is that they are mostly teenagers. However, according to the Economic Policy Institute, roughly 80-percent of all minimum wage workers living in states with an indexed minimum wage are at least 20 years old. Women are also disproportionally affected: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 62 percent of all minimum wage earners nationwide are women.

“A strong wage floor is an important foundation for family economic security,” said Avakian. “By passing a higher minimum wage, Oregon can help families struggling to make ends meet while boosting the purchasing power of hundreds of thousands of Oregonians around the state.”

As Labor Commissioner, Avakian both sets the state’s minimum wage and oversees its enforcement.

In 2013, Commissioner Avakian testified before the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in support of Senator Tom Harken’s efforts to boost the federal minimum wage. In 2014, Avakian was the first statewide official to call for a minimum wage increase.

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What Constitutes a Good Web to Print Solution?

Posted Friday, September 11, 2015 by Ellen Hurwitch.

alt text Often I am told that web to print is too difficult to implement, or that there are too many web to print solutions on the market, and it’s too confusing to figure out which one is the best fit for my needs. Hopefully, this article will provide some guidance on choosing a viable web2print solution.

There are a few thoughts to keep in mind when looking for a solution: ease of use, customer facing tools, support (very important) and price/function ratio (bang for the buck).

Ease of Use

One of the most important aspects of any web2print software is ease of use. The solution has to be easy for the printer to set up, and for the user to use. You should closely examine the design tools provided by the software to create variable, stock, and inventory items. These tools should not be overly complicated or require programming skills. Also important are the mechanisms provided for uploading and managing the lists to be used for variable data and large mailings. Keep in mind interfaces to third party list providers. These will enhance your value add and encourage more print buying from your customers.

Towards that end, automated pricing functions are also important. Pricing mechanisms should include (at a minimum) fixed and variable item pricing, all forms of taxation, shipping costs, and account for various types of currency.

Customer Facing Tools

A good web2print software should always have capabilities supporting multiple B to B and B to C storefronts. Deployments of such storefronts should be fast, easy, and straight forward with lots of GUI support. The system should not be overly technical or require programming skills.

Some solutions require knowledge of coding which is generally not a printers’ forte. Unless you currently offer web development as part of your services, you might be hard pressed to deploy some of these systems. I have heard of one company where the person in charge of web2print walked off the job because she found the system too frustrating to work with.

Keep in mind the user experience (called UX in the tech world). It is very important for the end user to feel comfortable using the software for designing products and placing orders. How often have you gone online to order something and left the site half way through the process because the experience was too difficult and time consuming? Clearly, something you want to avoid with your customers as well.


Be sure the producers of the web2print software offer at the very minimum online support. Make sure they provide Service Level Agreements (SLA’s). This is important if you find yourself in a legal bind. Most of all be VERY aware of the support costs. Some web2print solutions can run in the thousands of dollars in yearly support.

Related to this subject and just as important is hosting. Who is going to host this software? Will you be buying a server and engage your IT department in helping to install and implement? Or are you best served by looking for a cloud based solution that needs no IT oversight?

Bang for the Buck

Perhaps the most important question of all; the price to function ratio, how much does a full suite of functions cost in relation to other systems. Not all solutions do all things (although the software developers will tell you different). Most full featured systems will cost anywhere for $20K to $100K when fully configured with all the bells and whistles and with that, hefty support costs.

You may be surprised to learn that there are SaaS based solutions as low as $200 per month that are just as full-featured as the expensive solutions and have far less support cost (if any).

I’ve touched on several subjects and asked several questions but I hope that this brief article has provided some insight on evaluating the perfect web2print solution for your shop.

Ellen Hurwitch is Director of Operations for RedTie, Inc. a SaaS web to print solution provider for the print industry. For more information on RedTie software, please contact

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Fixed Price, FSC® Chain of Custody Certification Now Available To All Printers through Industry Association Collaboration

Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2015 by Jules VanSant.

alt textAvailable NOW to PPI Member Firms: The Regional Affiliate Certification Group (RACG) has announced that it now offers a program to the over $5M segment of the printing and packaging industry. Since 2010 RACG has offered a very successful program to the under $5M segment of the industry providing expanded consulting and group pricing to smaller firms. Long pursued, it has launched a program for larger firms providing assistance, consulting, and fixed pricing for FSC® Chain of Custody Certification.

The program is offered in a partnership through RACG with PIA Affiliates, American Green Consulting (AGC), the consulting firm servicing the current small printer group, and SCS Global Services, the certifying body chosen from the field. This offering features a friendly, supportive atmosphere where printers can review and discuss their needs with American Green Consulting who will provide necessary support on all elements of certification audits, FSC logo usage and other issues. Additionally, the RACG negotiated pricing provides a discounted, fixed price which includes all elements of the certification (audit – consulting – AAF fees– travel).

Already processing a few applicants, this program was announced at a meeting of affiliates of the Printing Industries of America last month and will be promoted to the membership throughout the US. Members of all affiliates now have access to a stable FSC® Certification program which allows them to service their customers in a full and seamless manner.

alt text Chris Gibbons, President of AGC comments, “We consistently receive requests for a simplified program for larger printers… stability, simplicity, and affordability are the most requested elements… this program provides the perfect answer.”

RACG president, Jim Tepper, said “We are very pleased to partner with SCS Global Services as they bring tremendous professionalism to this regulated process and have already proven to be a flexible and valuable part of this program. They have extensive experience with the printing and packaging industry and are very well positioned to deal with the unique issues of our industry in regards to certification steps and requirements”.

Enthused about this new endeavor, SCS Executive VP Robert Hrubes commented, “SCS Global Services is very pleased to partner with RACG on this important endeavor.”

The program is open to all printers who are members of PPI Association and PIA affiliates participating in RACG. Pricing, general information, and program applications are available through, on the RACG website (, or directly from Marybeth Maloney at the RACG office, (508-804-4109).

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