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OSHA & First Aid Supplies - What you need to know

Posted Monday, March 9, 2015 by Leslie Kipnis.

From PPI Partner G&K Services

Did you know that according to OSHA 1910.151 workplaces should have adequate first aid supplies stored in an area where they are readily available for emergency access? In an effort to help businesses protect their employees and meet regulatory requirements, G&K Services is now offering a first aid program to all customers in the US. All of G&K’s first aid cabinet solutions either meet or exceed OSHA regulations and contain all ten items required to meet ANSI standards. G&K’s unique first aid solutions dispense supplies one at a time, controlling excess usage and overstocking costs. Customers can expect predictable billing with a simple weekly flat rate. This program is backed by G&K Services’ customer promise and commitment to service excellence with a G&K representative regularly servicing the first aid cabinets, to make sure they remain fully stocked. Other new products include portable first aid kits, ideal for use in vehicles, blood borne pathogen kits, and a first responder eye wash station.

OSHA 1910.151 can be viewed in its entirety at OSHA.GOV.

To learn more about this cost-effective and fully managed solution visit


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How ARE You Doing?

Posted Tuesday, March 3, 2015 by Jules VanSant.

alt textIt’s a common greeting when you meet a person, but what’s your response when your banker asks the same question? And if you say, “I’m in the black” – what does that really mean? The answer is meaningless without some form of benchmarking – and that’s where the PIA Ratio Studies can help.

The Ratio Studies have been published for nearly 100 years and provide participants with data they cannot get anywhere else! The Ratios help define what a successful firm’s operating statement and balance sheet looks like. How? By publishing ratios of the top performers (Profit Leaders) in contrast with all other participating firms (within a market segment). As a company manager, this information is invaluable in helping you reach your company’s maximum potential.

Because gathering data is key to the success of this program, by sharing your company data (through the accounting firm Margolis Partners LLC), there is no cost to receive the survey results! If your chart of accounts is extremely different than the survey, for $150 (less than your CPA would charge), you can have the data entered for you — CONFIDENTIALLY! Although firms have different product mixes as well as capital equipment, this year’s survey will accommodate those differences as will the final report shared with participating companies.

So why aren’t you participating? This year’s deadline to submit your information is May 15, 2015 and while you’re prepping your taxes… just sayin’.

Need more information? Give us a call at PPI OR join me at the free webinar 3/19 and ask questions! REGISTER HERE

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Our Changing Workforce

Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2015 by Joe Polanco.

alt textIf you were to walk into the production areas of several printers anywhere in North America, you would undoubtedly observe something they all have in common. No, it’s not the equipment. Nor is it the facility design. It’s the average age of their employees. Look at the press operators. The skilled bindery technicians, and yes, even the prepress techs. Odds are you won’t see many under 30, or for that matter under 45.

How did this happen – and more importantly – what does this mean for our future? Regardless of what the “tekkies” are saying, digital print is not going to replace all of our offset presses, and inline finishing isn’t going to replace our needs to bind and finish offline.

The printing industry has always been a craft industry. One learned through a formal apprenticeship (when there were trade unions) or on‐the‐job (OJT) under the tutelage of someone more knowledgeable. Many would begin in small job shops operating single color duplicators/presses or simple bindery equipment and then make job hops for the opportunities to operate more complex equipment and hone the skills necessary to be called a Craftsman.

The apprenticeship programs, as well as many of the high school and trade programs, which fed the industry are long gone. The duplicator press, which was the genesis of their journey as a press operator, is hardly ever found in print shops. The job shop has been replaced with a broad range of print providers – all running digital equipment.

Another complication was that the industry workforce took a dramatic hit in the Big Recession, which was acerbated by the move to digital‐based communications. There was no reason to hire new people and anyone with sub‐standard skills was let go. We went through nearly 5 years of limited hiring in the pressroom and bindery. Anyone who had been laid off in 2007 or 2008 quickly determined that their future no longer existed in our industry. The result being we no longer had the “reserve” labor pool thatin prior business cycles was always available.

To confound matters, many outside of the industry, and for that matter too many inside the industry, were forecasting the death of everything print. Anyone who understood the craft of print and was employed was not too excited about leaving their present job, especially in light of a rapidly shrinking industry where closures and consolidations were occurring at historical rates. AND young people had no interest to get into a “dying” industry.

That’s how we got here.

The major challenge facing the industry over the next 10 years is not technology and marketing, but finding and training people. A recent study conducted by several Printing Industries of America Affiliates asked the question: What percentage of your skilled workforce (Production Personnel) do you estimate will retire in the next 5‐10 years? Over 50% of the respondents indicated that a significant amount (30‐50%) of their workforce would retire in that period. The same survey showed that the median age in the offset pressroom was over 45 in nearly 2/3 of the companies surveyed.

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A crucial question is where will we find people with the right skills (attitude, ability, and work habits) to replace our existing workforce? More importantly ‐‐ how will we train them? The industry predominately uses OJT to train (85% per the PIA Affiliate survey); consequently the industry’s “trainers” will very quickly be departing the industry. By the way, our industry is not the only one facing this challenge. Many firms in the manufacturing sector are seeing identical issues. The baby‐boomer who comprise a large sub‐set of skilled employees are beginning to leave and changes in technology and workflow are making them look beyond their competitors for personnel. We’re not alone.

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What’s the answer? It’s a recommitment to training.

In the past management relied on labor unions and trade schools to develop a core of trained individuals. That is no longer an option. Equipment manufacturers no longer have the depth in their organizations to provide training as they did in the past, and the trade associations don’t have resources to create print schools, which historically were supported by public dollars.

Yet, if all of these groups work together there is hope. Industry organizations can be the fulcrum that can leverage spreading the word to educational institutions that the industry still needs young people.Employers need to recommit their efforts (and $$) to create OJT programs that can quickly develop the skill sets needed in today’s world of print and technology. A variety of tools already exist to support training in the pressroom and bindery (Printing Industries of America’s Training Curriculums) and there are vehicles which measure and benchmark an individual’s skills (National Council of Print IndustryCertification). Industry manufacturers and industry associations can partner to find ways to recruit “graying” industry trainers who don’t want to retire at the golf course but find ways to give‐back to an industry many dearly love.

All it takes is a bit of creativity, a few dollars, and a commitment that print is still a viable industry.

Joe Polanco is a product of industry trade schools and developed a passion for all things print decades ago. He began his career as a press operator, earned a printing management degree, and has held various management positions within the industry. He presently serves as the president of the Printing & Imaging Association of MidAmerica, a regional trade association affiliated with Printing Industries of America.

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The Top 10 Productivity Killers

Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2015 by Jules VanSant.

alt textLet’s face it - ha! It’s true that the amount of distractions we face today are far greater than any generation prior. We’re expected to respond quickly when addressed, be at the meeting and stay focused, engage electronically as well as personally - it sometimes feels like being on a roller coaster that never ends. It’s important to honor people’s ability to manage their time, respect they will follow through and perform as expected for the position they hold, yet….

It’s NOT always that easy…sometimes it feels like a puppy must - TREAT * BALL * PLAY * WALK * RUB MY BELLY … where where where where?!?!?!?! It’s hard to get away from it all and yet perform as expected.

Us humans take tangents and get caught up in non-productive distractions when searching, chatting, or interacting LIVE (yes, it’s not all about the internet). Try searching “Selfie” on the internet… ok don’t. What people will post up?!?! OMG.

Sorry, I got distracted…

Here’s a list of the latest & greatest TOP 10 Productivity Killers to keep an eye on and make your employees aware of from a recent survey. Harris Poll, on behalf of, surveyed 2,138 hiring managers and human resource professionals in a number of industries. They found behaviors of co-workers, meetings and a number of other factors are also creating obstacles to maximizing performance.

  1. Cell phone / texting: One in four workers admitted that during the typical workday they will spend one hour on personal calls, emails and/or sending text messages.
  2. Gossip: That chattering the office may not always be about work.
  3. The internet: 20% of workers said they spend an hour or more at work searching the NET for non-work-related information.
  4. Social Media: Studies have found that Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are significant drains on employee time.
  5. Snack breaks / Smoke breaks.
  6. Noisy co-workers: these are people who have conversations that are too loud while on the phone, or who make outbursts when they get annoyed or upset.
  7. Meetings: Some firms just have too many meetings, and a lot of time is wasted if they are not succinct and to the point.
  8. E-Mail: Employees are sometimes busy sending personal e-mails to friends.
  9. Co-workers dropping by: These are those little chat sessions when a colleague stops by another’s desk for me chit chat.
  10. Putting calls on speaker phone.

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Posted Friday, February 6, 2015 by Joe Rickard.

Thoughts from the PPI ED formally known as a print buyer :)

Having been a buyer for many years, I completely agree with Joe Rickard’s assessment of indifference in seeking new suppliers. Once I found a few that fit the niches I was regularly purchasing, I would politely address sales reps calling on me from other providers, but the reality… rarely was there a compelling argument or differentiator which would truly make me think twice about moving my business.

Those who were aware of this, patient, not pushy yet able to create a connection often were the ones down the road I would entertain quotes and collaborate on future projects with. How do you handle indifference?

Cheers! Jules

from Joe Rickard’s Printing Sales Training Blog

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February 2, 2015

When selling print, a customer who lacks any interest in looking at new printing providers, print products, solutions or services can be the toughest barrier that any salesperson can face. For many salespeople, customer indifference is their greatest competitor.

The reason indifference is so frustrating to print salespeople is because it is based on customer perception about print. They view print as a commodity and are not interested in looking at any new ideas.

Common responses from customers are:

“We are happy with our current print supplier.”

“We are not using direct mail anymore.”

“We are moving to digital marketing.”

“Talk to our purchasing department.”

Customer Indifference Can Be a Salesperson’s Toughest Competitor

Selling to the indifferent customer has been the basis of sales training courses for many decades.

The buying process has changed. Current research tells us that customers are 60% of the way through their buying process before they even talk to a salesperson. This is because of readily available information on the Web and within Social Media. As a result, it is even more difficult for a printing salesperson to attract attention and present their print solution.

Reasons for Customer Indifference to Print

Here are some more reasons why customers are indifferent to print:

*· Print has been a victim of the success of digital and social media. Some customers have completely “tuned out” print. They view print as a relic of the past that is being overwhelmed by digital and social media. The result is that print will become even more commoditized in the eyes of the customer and will be pushed to the purchasing department for price management.

· Customers are not responding to traditional print sales and marketing approaches. Buyers of print are getting their information from other sources outside of printing salespeople. Print providers and salespeople have been hesitant to adjust to changing buying habits of customers.

· Print is not viewed as positively as it has been in the past. There is a relentless push by opponents of print to create the perception that print is too expensive, bad for the environment and overall not effective.*

These reasons for customer indifference do not mean all is hopeless. Below are six proactive actions that printing salespeople and print providers can use to combat indifference.

Six Ways to Confront Customer Indifference

1. Bring Value to the Conversation

Forrester Research states that only 15 percent of customers see value in conversations with salespeople. Salespeople must bring insights and ideas that address customer problems. Case studies, examples and best practices that are tailored to each customer are good ways to create interest. Focusing on the business problem or opportunity should be the foundation of any sales approach.

2. Dominate a Market Segment

We have always been a fan of vertical marketing. Knowing an industry well with its specific jargon, work processes and issues brings instant credibility to indifferent customers. There are an enormous amount of examples of industry-focused innovative and creative print solutions that have delivered outstanding return on investment.

3. Be an Expert

Customers are less interested in hearing why one printing company is better than another. Research consistently confirms customers are looking for experts in communications and printing. Being an expert in print is a given; customers also expect salespeople to know how digital and social media integrates with print.

4. Reinvent Print

If indifferent customers have entrenched opinions about print, then print providers and salespeople need to position print in a new way. We are already seeing print providers reposition cross media and data-driven print in a creative way. Don’t waste time on customers who are stubborn. Look for influencers and champions who value new ideas. There are many users and creatives who will embrace the beauty and effectiveness of print if given the chance.

5.Put Yourself in the Position of the Customer

Spending time with customers and simply listening to them is a great way to move indifferent customers. We recently observed an indifferent customer become interested because of the way a print company simplified the print process. The customer’s perception was that commercial printers were much more difficult to work with than digital and social media agencies. The printer offers virtual and rapid customer service, immediate status of jobs is provided, and samples of substrates are sent overnight to creatives and end users.

6.Focus on the Vital Few

80% of our business comes from 20% of accounts. Don’t confuse sales activity with sales effectiveness. Existing customers with problems or opportunities that can directly be addressed by print solutions are the place to start. Those customers that can improve sales or profits by an innovative direct mail campaign or a cross media product launch or implementing a web to print system are places to focus.

Addressing the indifferent print customer has never been more important. The change has occurred gradually. In most cases, indifference is not due to unhappiness with their current printing company. It is because the customers have so many alternative communication choices available to them.

Great salespeople recognize indifference when they see it. The key, as always, is to know the customer and their business. Listening, building a customized strategy and creating new insights is the best way of gaining their attention and interest.

Joe Rickard is a training leader and consultant dedicated to the graphic communications Industry. He is a printing industry expert and works with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales and operational effectiveness. Joe founded Intellective Solutions LLC ( to serve the printing market. Intellective Solutions Inc. provides consulting and training material and services. He can be reached at 845 753 6156. Follow him on Twitter @joerickardIS. This article was published December 1, 2014 in Quick Printing Magazine and

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