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Lewis-Clark State College Student Wins the 2017 PGSF College Poster Design Competition

Posted Wednesday, October 4, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

alt textA student from Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston, Idaho has won the 2017 Print and Graphics Scholarship (PGSF) College Poster design competition. The poster titled “Start Your Journey” was submitted by Rachel Myers. It will be distributed to all colleges and high schools in the United States that have printing and graphic communication programs for the 2017–2018 academic year. This student-designed poster is used to promote the availability of scholarships for students pursuing a career in the graphic communication industry.

The Poster design competition was entered by many classes and individual students that used the competition entry as a real working assignment. “Education is critical to the success of promoting gainful employment for students in the graphic communications industry. Graphic communications is a “hidden” industry and are often overlooked as a viable career path in higher education. It is our job to educate students as to the endless opportunities available to them in this ever changing field.” Said Diane Driskill, Graphic Communications Professor at Lewis-Clark State College.

Ms. Driskill added, “Due to the high cost of college education, financial assistance is essential, not only to the student but also toward promoting careers in the graphic communications industry. It is wonderful to work with PGSF to accomplish both missions! Industry support is vital to the success of our educational programs and input from industry is valuable in adjusting our curriculum to make sure we are teaching our students the appropriate skills and technology they want and need for a student to succeed in gaining employment.”

“All of the student submissions to the Foundation were of a truly professional caliber, making it a challenging choice for our team of judges,” said John Berthelsen, Vice-president of Development at PGSF. “There were a number of great looking posters and it was a difficult choice. Rachel’s entry used a graphic style that stands out while presenting our PGSF brand and conveying the message about the availability of scholarship funds with a call to fellow students to take action.

More than two hundred college students attending 80 schools are receiving financial assistance through PGSF. However, many more deserving scholarship applicants are turned down due to lack of funds. For copies of the poster, information regarding tax-advantaged contributions, establishing a scholarship through PGSF, or scholarship applications, contact Bernie Eckert, PGSF program administrator, at 412-259- 1740 or You can also visit:

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What to Look For If Your Profits Are Low

Posted Wednesday, September 27, 2017 by Tai McNaughton - Economist, Printing Industries of America.

alt textFrequently we are asked for our top reasons for low profits at printing firms. Just as is true of your physical health, some vital signs in the health of your business can be too high or too low. The following is a list of indicators that may need to be examined in order to see greater profitability:

Your Prices Are Too Low

Over the years, we have repeatedly pointed out how price increases trump both cost decreases and sales increases in boosting profits. Too many printing companies focus on costs and continue pricing as they have in the past. PIA studies show that raising prices by just one percent raises profits by a higher percentage than decreasing materials cost by one percent, reducing payroll cost by one percent, reducing administrative and selling costs by one percent, or increasing sales by one percent.

Your Plant Utilization Is Too Low

Low plant utilization means that plant overhead is spread over fewer jobs, leading to low or no productivity.

Your Value Added Is Too Low

A basic maxim of the printing industry is that profit is derived from sales of a company’s internal manu-facturing process; so, printers need to minimize their outside purchases. Printers make a profit from the work done inside their plants, not outside.

Your Sales Per Employee Are Too Low

The gap in sales per employee for a profit leader compared to a profit challenger is over $35,300 for printers with less than $3 million in annual sales. On average, each additional $3,600 in sales per employee increases profit on sales by one percent.

Your Sales Per Production Employee Are Too Low

The gap between profit leaders and profit challeng-ers for this metric is over $20,700 for small printers. On average, each additional $2,100 in sales per production employee adds one percent in profit as a percentage of sales.

Your People Costs Are Too High

For all printers participating in this year’s Dynamic Ratios, profit challengers paid an average of 40.2 percent of sales for people costs (wages, salaries, benefits and payroll taxes). In contrast, profit leaders expended an average of just 35 percent, for a difference of 5.2 percent. For smaller printers (less than $3 million in annual sales) the gap is even greater — 5.6 percent of sales.

Your Paper and Consumable Costs Are Too High

Paper cost as a percentage of sales is a benchmark that can indicate both efficiency and inefficiency. However, in most cases, relatively high paper cost indicates inefficiency or high waste and spoilage.

Your Production Costs Are Too HighFor a typical print job, variable costs comprise around 60 percent. Total factory cost of product as a percentage of sales is inversely related to value added but not in a one-to-one relationship.

Your Sales Costs Are Too HighA typical printer spends around eight percent of sales on selling expenses such as salesperson salaries, benefits, payroll taxes and commissions. Profit leaders usually beat this rate by one percent or so. Typically, a leading cause of high selling expenses is the sales commission structure itself; so, if this metric is high take a look at this first.

Your Administrative Costs Are Too High

For a typical printer this metric is usually around eight percent or so of sales. Usually, a profit leader can shave a half percent or so off of this amount.

Now that you have diagnosed where your problems lie, understanding how to implement change procedures in your firm is a whole different story. PIA’s Center for Print Economics and Management offers a Financial Performance Assessment that gives you a detailed action plan to follow based upon the health of your financials.

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Barran Liebman: Rescission of DACA and the Impact on Employers

Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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From PPI partner Barran Liebman LLC offering 15 min consultation on all things HR.So many other resources for members only from PIA

The Trump Administration announced that it is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program put in place under President Obama in 2012. DACA allows people who arrived in the United States as undocumented immigrant children to avoid deportation and to obtain two-year renewable work authorizations. The current date set for rescission of DACA is March 5, 2018. The six-month window is intended to give Congress time to pass legislation on the issue, and legal challenges to the rescission are already in the works.

Should the current plan move forward, the immediate impact for many employers is the potential for labor shortages. Current statistics indicate that nearly 700,000 of the 800,000 total DACA recipients are currently legally employed. If their work permits expire and those recipients face deportation, employers will be scrambling to find and train replacement workers, with certain industries and states hit particularly hard.

The mass deportation of DACA recipients may have a serious impact on the general economy as well, with some estimates of the cost to employers exceeding $6 billion. These expenses take a variety of forms, including decreased productivity, the cost of recruiting and training new hires, administrative costs, as well as potential legal fees should the employer voluntarily elect to defend the employee or employees (which some larger companies have already promised to do). There is also the impact of lost tax revenue, since DACA recipients currently pay federal, state, and local taxes as part of the program.

The most likely approach that the Trump Administration might take would be to stop approving new DACA applicants, and to stop renewing current recipients’ work permits. All work permits issued to DACA holders would continue to be valid until the expiration date on the permit. The current deadline to file a DACA application for renewal is October 5, 2017, and the initial/renewal DACA applications that were filed as of September 5, 2017, will continue to be adjudicated in the normal course. DACA holders should continue to save evidence of their continuous U.S. presence, including school transcripts, household bills, rent or mortgage receipts, medical records, taxes, and paystubs.

Employers face legal liability if they continue to employ workers after the expiration of their work permits, but also face the risk of discrimination claims if they improperly dismiss workers. DACA prohibits employers from discriminating against foreign-born applicants purely because they have temporary authorization. Therefore, if DACA is rescinded as planned, employers will be the ones that will have to implement the policy through carefully reviewing the status of their employees’ current work permit authorizations and pending expiration dates, and terminating DACA recipients once their work authorization expires (unless they are otherwise authorized to work in the U.S.).

In the meantime, employers should track the progress of the rescission process and keep an eye on important timelines.

For specific questions about how the DACA rescission impacts your workplace, contact Tyler Volm at (503) 276-2111 or

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10 Things Printers Can Teach Designers

Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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By: Marina Joyce

Designers are visual people and the best way to teach a visual person is to show them. Graphic designers are also curious people who generally like to see how things work. We all walk around with our cameras all day, lauding their efficiency for email, Slack, twitter and more. But it is the instant transmission of images and videos that make showing as easy-as-pie.

Here are 10 ways you can use your smartphone to reach out to your designer clients, add value to your company website and make life easier for yourself. (Sales managers, appoint one person to collect this kind of knowledge and disseminate to the whole sales team.

Coated Versus Uncoated: Sit down with a designer and have two paper swatchbooks in front of you and explain coated paper versus uncoated paper. You will have saved yourself countless hours of “it looks like postcard paper” descriptions, and the like.

Bleeds: Take a video of your guillotine cutter in action, preferably a job with a bleed. Zoom in on the crop marks, text it to your designer client. (Put it on your website too!)Grain. Look in your sample room for something with a nice black solid. Pull two samples.

Grain: Fold one sample with the grain Fold the other sample against the grain. Put them side-by-side folds-up and photograph with your phone. Open the image and crop to relevant image area and mark as a favorite in your phone for quick retrieval.

Waste=Cost: Show your client an illustration of paper waste for various page sizes. Here are some examples you can use: (Put it on your website too!)

Quantity matters: Walk into your pressroom and film a sheetfed press at the delivery end while it is running for 30 seconds. Confirm run speed with the pressman. Text video to client explaining that’s how long it takes for (insert quantity here) brochures/posters, etc. to run through the press and why they should opt for digital printing on this short run. (At 15,000 iph 30 seconds is 125 sheets, 8-up that’s 1,000 pieces!)

Printing is green: Calculate how many pounds of trim, corrugated and electronics you recycle each year (if your trim is picked up and weighed by a recycler they have this info). Next time your vendor picks up a container run out to the parking lot and take a pic. Put the photo on your website with an infographic of the tonnage you recycle annually. Explain that the trim and corrugated goes into future recycled paper products.

Ink can change color: Show your client this photo. Explain that the ink formulas with a high percentage of opaque white (basically all pastels) will shift within a year (swatch on left was two years old, on right six months, when photographed). Share that pastel colors are great for a short-lived item like an invitation and not so great for an identity system.

Paper makes a difference: Next time you’ve got an attractive job with photos that’s going to run on white paper, order some extra sheets of ivory, canary and grey uncoated paper. Add those colored sheets to the job and photograph the same detail area of all four colors. Make a montage (easy with the Layout app for iphone). Send this montage to a client who is wondering about running a job on colored stock and put it on your website too.

How to read a swatchbook: Oh boy, if I had a penny for every time a customer found the “perfect paper” in a swatch book and placed an order specifying that sheet only to find out there wasn’t enough, or it wasn’t stocking or that the chosen color had been discontinued … this is a great topic to discuss at a quick lunch with a new customer. Text her an image showing how to look up the date of a swatchbook. Then bring her some lunch and a few swatchbooks and show her how to “read” it.

Art takes time: Text your idea of a rudimentary schedule to your client as a pdf graphic that they can print out and pin to their idea wall. Next time they are working with a client to develop a timeline, they won’t guess and it saves both them and you a call/email.

I know that some will think that answering questions and fielding problems bring value to a client, and they do. But do they bring value to a business owner?

If staff is reacting/interacting at the 100-ft. level, how are they going to interact at the 30,000-ft. level with intention?

Focus on the little things with intention and planning and then the 30,000-ft. questions aren’t as scary. What are your clients’ plans for next year? Are you discussing budgets internally? Are they planning on launching any new products or services within the next six months? These conversations are really easy when “what do I need a bleed for” is taken care of.

Joyce has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of her book, “Designing For Print.” The book provides proven advice for designers on how to cost, schedule and build projects for success in digital, offset, letterpress or flexo printing.

Source: Printing Impressions

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MIS Study 2017 Released - Free Resource to Members!

Posted Thursday, September 7, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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PPI national partner Printing Industries of America just published the latest Survey of Management Information Software, marking the 12th consecutive year we have produced this free, useful guide for members.

The survey results are compiled from questionnaires sent to MIS software vendors, documenting the functionality, cost, and other pertinent information for the vast majority of software packages. This year’s publication contains details on 45 software solutions and provides readers the ability to quickly locate software with specific features.

Member only access to this valuable resource:

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