By Todd Abrams, Publisher of STL Business Magazine:
“Organizations of all kinds are focused on working smarter and more efficiently. It seems that every part of business is getting more complex and competitive through new technologies, regulations and changing economics, at the same time that there are fewer people to do the work. Anybody in business and also not-for-profits and government can readily identify with this dilemma. The productive response is that organizations and entire industries change the way they do business to best address the evolving demands.
I would like to share with you one business lesson I have learned that could be of help to organizations that use a significant amount of printed materials. If you have a department devoted to planning, purchasing and managing your full range of printing needs, this may not apply to you. But many small or medium-sized businesses do not have these specialists on staff, so they just rely on the people that use printed materials to source them. And like anything else that requires precision, detailed supervision, workflow planning and marketplace knowledge, people who lack in-depth expertise in the art and science of printing simply can’t expect to get the best result at the most competitive price with the least amount of stress on their organizations.
Fortunately, in the world of quality printing there is a solution that can make a real difference. To produce this publication I use a tight-knit, very lean organization of mostly independent contractors. And what I have learned is the critical importance of being able to rely on an expert printing broker to handle that sizeable part of my business. The operating knowledge they have of printing processes, vendors, papers, inks, job flow, as well as options to address functional needs, client desires, postal regulations and a lot more are critical to getting the job done right. And since I spend the bulk of my time with advertising clients, designers, writers and marketing planners, I would never be able to devote the time to learn, much less do the things that our printing broker organization does so well.
When you mention using a broker to some business owners and managers, they assume that means that having a “middle man” will cost more. Well, here’s the truth of the matter. When you work directly with a printer, their rep who works with you is being commissioned on the sale. When you work with a broker, he is usually a “house” account with the printer, so instead of the commission being paid to their rep, that commission is earned by your broker. But here is the big difference: the broker is working for you, not for the printer. That means they are always looking out for your interests, while the printer’s rep is focused on keeping the presses running for his company.
Nearly any organization that uses a sizable amount of printing invariably has a variety of very different printing needs. For instance, we published a 500-page book two years ago, on paper stock and printing equipment at a facility that is completely different from that used to produce the magazine. Because a broker organization understands a broad range of types of printing and works with a number of different best-of-breed suppliers, they know the best resource for getting each product done at the most competitive price.
Our broker was already involved with a number of book printers, so they could immediately bid it with companies they knew and where they had excellent relationships in order to get it done on the timing we needed at the most competitive price with no learning curve. It would have taken me considerable time to research suppliers, focus on all of the details required to get the job done right, and I would have been a lot less likely to get the flawless result we had on that project.
Our printing broker is a company called Creative Printing Services, which has been in business in St. Louis for over 30 years. To see how they may be able to help you with your printing, to get a second opinion on a project or outside expertise on a complex printing requirement, you can contact Steve Turner, owner and CEO at Creative Printing Services to review your needs. He can be reached at 314-863-4550 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more about Creative Printing Services at www.cpsstl.com.”