Offset printers have their eye on flexo: print buyers, reports our columnist, are encouraging offset shops to acquire flexographic printing equipment. At issue? Customer service.

Author:Fields, Art
Position::Reality Check

You know what they say: If you can't beat them, join them. If offset is having a tough time competing against flexo, then go flexo. And they are. This is the number one growth area that I see in the flexo industry: offset companies getting into flexo. Now I am a full believer that there is plenty of work to go around. After all, the printing and packaging industry is one of the largest in the country, and flexo currently is doing way less than it will be doing over the next five years.

There is no doubt that flexo is becoming the dominant player in the printing and packaging industry, and I am here to tell you that offset companies have taken notice. The majority of my consulting time is being occupied by offset companies wanting to explore or get into flexo, and the most surprising thing to me is the main reason they are so eager to get started.

I am sure the obvious reasons form a large part of their decision--better profit margins, less expensive equipment, and fast turnaround time on orders, but the most common reason will probably shock you. I know it astonished me.

There is no doubt that for many years offset was the way to go for top quality printing and packaging. Relationships were formed and things looked good for all involved. As time went on flexo got better, and slowly but surely became a viable source of good packaging products. It also brought a lot more efficiency to production lines, not to mention profitability and cash flow. It's not only auto-applied labels that attracted printing and packaging buyers, but also the speed of the turnaround time and the savings. All in all, it was just the forward movement of technology.

Now you might ask, "So what's the big deal?" That, my friends, is what I am going to share with you. The big deal is why the offset companies are getting into flexo now. I have been involved with several offset companies and have met with their customers, and those are the people who want the offset shops to do their flexo work.

These print buyers have been telling me horror stories about the numerous flexo converters they have dealt with and how dissatisfied they have become. The number one complaint is that they never believed what they were told, and for good reason. They also tell me about all the times they would receive partial orders, and how they would wonder what they were expected to do with part of what they needed.

I feel for a lot of flexo companies out there. I see a trend starting here, and...

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