In part one of Surviving Adversity: A CEO Panel Discussion, we highlighted the conversations around revenue strategy during the pandemic. In part two, we received how the panelists have adapted the way they manage their graphic arts business in light of COVID-19, including the impact to staffing and internal processes. In part three, we’re taking a look at some of the future predictions for the industry in light of COVID’s impact. 

Panelists on the call included Brian Turbeville - President of Wallace Carlson Printing, Mike Lane - CEO/President of Meyer’s Printing Co., Gary Garner - President/CEO of GLS Companies, and Tom Moe - CEO of Daily Printing, and the webinar facilitators included Mel Enger and Rick Riesgraf from LB Carlson.  

How COVID is impacting the future of the graphic arts industry  

How the pandemic will continue to impact the graphic arts industry into 2021 and beyond is still a little uncertain. There is concern that a resurgence in virus cases could prompt potential future shutdowns resulting in bottlenecks and staffing issues like the industry saw in early 2020. However, with the vaccine being administered, and knowing what the industry knows now, the panelists were optimistic about the future. The industry has been able to pivot and adapt to challenging circumstances, and there is confidence from the panelists that that will be the case going forward.  

The future of investment and technology – As graphic arts is a capital-intensive industry, making big purchases and changes to adapt to changing customer demands is risky even in the best of times. During the pandemic, the panelists stressed that balancing future improvements with a realistic budget and knowing your marketplace and client base is critical before pulling the trigger on big investments.  

While investments in technology will continue to be made, the panelists also discussed the importance of good strategic partnerships and alliances to bring solutions to your customers   

The future of business development – The panelists discussed how interacting with clients and prospects has changed and how that will impact marketing and business development strategy in 2021 and future years. Some panelists mentioned they will be getting more targeted in their business development efforts and offering greater personalization in their messaging. Customers will be looking for hard numbers on ROI and printers will be able to meet expectations by focusing on automation, data cleanup, personalization, and labor efficiency.  

Additionally, it was mentioned that honing in on social media and understanding the motivations and trends of millennials will be key in future business development efforts.  

The future of growth  The panelists mentioned that growth is always a challenge. Even if you have great customer service, good technology, and have a solid business development team on the ground, organic growth is still very hard.  Sometimes the right way to grow is through merger and acquisition.  The panelists agreed they are always looking for potential acquisitions, but that COVID has changed the game a bit. There is some fear of making bad acquisitions and adding costs during a turbulent time. The panelists discussed the importance of building good competitor relationships that could potentially turn into acquisitions.  They also mentioned that it was important to perform good due diligence before completing any transaction. 

Overall, the panelists agreed they are looking at future growth opportunities through slightly different lenses.  They expressed confidence that the industry would be able to weather the storms, adapt, and pivot where necessary to meet client demands.