Veterans in the outdoor-graphics industry discuss how their companies have dealt with changes in the market and how other recent issues, such as the economic recession and the push for sustainability, have impacted their businesses.
By Lori Leaman
Renda: Digital printing is becoming more of a factor in our industry, which accommodates shorter runs and competitive pricing for lower quantity orders. This allows us to service some customers that might not have been big enough in the past for our larger screen-printing presses. This benefits them by being able to access our creative side of the business—our artists, graphic designers, and engineers. Companies are starting to ask for environmentally friendly or green materials, and some are starting to require them. One of our customers is requiring that we sign off on a questionnaire that asks a number of questions about how we operate our business. Some of the questions relate to how we treat our employees, do we pay them a fair wage, are our working conditions safe, and do we provide a good working environment. They are requiring not only us to answer these questions, but also have our suppliers do the same. After I thought about this I realized that this could be a good thing for America. Some foreign countries, especially in the far-east, do not have fair labor practices and still run sweatshops. These methods have allowed them to steal jobs from US workers and drive up our trade deficit. More companies should start to require these fair labor practice assurances and jobs may start coming back to the United States. I believe that our workers can compete with any workers in the world as long as the playing field is the same for all.
SP: What effect have those changes or trends had on your business?
GABRIEL: These trends are welcoming to us because they are in harmony with our business strategy to provide solutions in a more innovative way. Most people in this industry would answer that negatively, but we aren’t one of the old dogs, that has a history of preconceived notions and bad habits to break.
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