Staying Ahead of the Efficiency Curve

A marketing-services company remains competitive and profitable by reducing job spoilage, investing in automation and technology, and planning for the future.

By Sue Doerfler

Profit margins in the printing industry are notoriously low, and companies are always looking for ways to squeeze a penny of savings here or a smidgen of efficiency there while delivering what customers want. At Prisma Corporation, a Phoenix-based marketing services company with national and international clients, finding efficiencies is the key to becoming an industry leader, streamlining its customers’ message to market and improving its bottom line — as well as that of clients.

“We’re continuously looking at our business — focusing on not only what clients are driving us to do, but our own efficiencies, inefficiencies and gaps that we’re seeing,” says Rob Nawfel, Prisma president. “Driving efficiency is the best way to increase profit margins because that’s within our control.”

“It’s amazing how technology has really changed things” in the commercial-printing industry, Nawfel says. “If you look back 30 years ago, we were still shooting everything on a camera, outputting film and having people lay the film down to create layouts. It’s a night-and-day difference to the process today, with digital presses and digital front ends.”

When the current owners bought Prisma in 2000, the company had 25 employees and recorded about US$1 million in annual sales. By committing to customers, being adaptable and embracing new technologies, the 38-year-old company has evolved to more than 220 full-time employees, Nawfel says, and 2018 sales are expected to reach $42 million.

Commercial-printing industry sales increased 1.5 percent in 2017, Idealliance, a global nonprofit think tank in the graphic-communications industry, reports in the Spring 2018 Idealliance State of the Industry Update, co-sponsored by Canon.

Idealliance forecasts a growth in commercial-printing sales of 2-3 percent over the next three years due to the strong economy. However, as its former chief economist, Andrew Paparozzi, notes on the Idealliance website, “Gains due to a favorable swing in the business cycle are short-lived unless we are delivering the value that keeps clients in and the competition out.”

To deliver that value — and remain competitive and successful in the market — companies must have the right equipment and business ethic. But with the average printing manufacturing company making about 3 percent in net-operating income, Nawfel says, that can be difficult. “As with companies in other industries, our biggest challenge is profit,” he says. “It’s particularly a concern in the printing business, however, because the profit margins are so low and the investment in our equipment and technology is so high. We have to invest millions of dollars into our business to keep up to date.”

So, Prisma pushes for efficiencies.

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