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FLEXO Magazine : April 2009
PLANTS & PROCESSES An audit helps prioritize roll needs and identifi es defi cien- cies in cleaning, storage and handling practices. Penny Wise or Pound Foolish? Avoiding Detours on the Road to Success By David Lanska fl exographers face daunting challenges: increased costs (for raw materials, energy, insurance and other benefi ts), competition (from other printers, countries and print processes), regulations, lack of available credit, employee turnover, and language and cultural issues stemming from the changing ethnic makeup of the workforce. That is to say nothing of customer expectations. With the goal I of selling more consumer goods, print buyers drive for greater graphic impact, more vibrant color with broader tonal ranges, and innovative special eff ects. They require product security features and demand repeatable color across the entire continuum of the brand presentation from advertising to labels to cartons to point- of-purchase displays. With targeted promotions and regional product variations, they specify shorter runs and faster deliveries. They want it all, but at lower prices. Is it any wonder that printers are struggling? But aren’t all printers facing the same challenges? If so, why do some companies thrive, while others struggle to survive? What are they doing diff erently? What separates the successful compa- nies from their less successful counterparts? Profi tability is a sign of a well-run company regardless of the economic conditions, but staying profi table is much more chal- lenging when competitive pressures force prices lower at the 44 FLEXO APRIL 2009 t is no secret that the economy is struggling. Times are tough and every newscast is peppered with stories of lay- off s, foreclosures, and bankruptcies. In this environment, same time costs are rising. Profi tability is the goal, but how you achieve that goal makes all the diff erence between success and hanging a going out of business sign. DON’T CUT YOURSELF OUT Companies can increase profi ts by cutting costs, increasing pric- es or improving effi ciencies. Cutting costs always seems to be the fi rst choice even if it may not be the best. Companies scale back on marketing, R&D, purchases, quality initiatives and training. When that is not adequate, they cut staff . This certainly makes for a short- term improvement on the bottom line, but at what expense? R&D is vital to the development of new products, services and innovations that open new markets and expand sales in exist- ing ones. The opportunity curve is getting shorter as companies quickly fi nd ways to catch up to their competitors. Unfortunately, you can’t stand still to get ahead. You have to keep moving for- ward. I bet no one can name the world’s top buggy whip manu- facturer, even if they have a corner on the market. The industry pretty much moved on without them. Although it seems quick and painless to drop out on advertis- ing, trade shows, promotions and other marketing activities, these are the engine that drives sales. They build awareness, inform and help draw in customers, tap into customers’ needs and show how your products can satisfy those needs. Cutting out all purchases except those that are “absolutely nec- essary” sounds like a good idea. The trick is in defi ning what is www. f le xography. org