Are you an Expert?

Someone called the shop the other day looking for a “Printing Expert”. I never really thought about being an expert before. “Printer” was just a title that I shared with Benjamin Franklin and a few thousand other folks in my chosen profession. I wasn’t exactly sure what separated a printing expert from any other printing professional. So I asked some of our customers and vendors what they thought a printing expert was, and did I qualify. This is what I learned:

The first category that I’ll talk about are printing brokers. Printing Brokers are good sales people, and some know a good deal about printing, but only a handful could be considered “Printing Experts”. Brokers will find a prospect that needs printing, get all of the specs for the job, and contact several print shops that they trust, looking for the best price. Their relationship with the printers that produce work for them is based on trust, because they rely on the printer to deliver the printed piece, on time. In the 80’s brokers could be very successful, but these days the need for printed materials is not as broad as it once once was, and it’s harder for brokers to find good pricing. As a matter of fact, these days, there are a only a few “trade shops” (wholesale) across the country that I know about. So in my opinion, printing brokers are rarely experts.

Some printers are good at what they do, but they don’t do much. At least they don’t offer much in the way of a product line. They are experts in the products that they offer, but those products are not very broad. They generally specialize in black and white copies, and color copies produced on a high speed copier like the ones at Kinko’s. These guys have invested in equipment, but only the basics. They will take on some larger projects, that need to be outsourced to larger shops with more sophisticated equipment, but they generally shy away from the more complex pieces that might need to be die cut or foil stamped. So I wouldn’t take away that these kind of printers aren’t experts, but I would call them “Copy Experts” instead of “Printing Experts”.

The next possible Printing Experts I’ll review are the mega commercial print shops. These shops are obviously either experts, or just gazillionaires. The equipment that they use costs millions of dollars, and the customers that they serve, pay them millions more. They take care of the biggest companies that you can think of. You would have to be an expert in your field in order to deal with fortune 100 companies on a daily basis. So, yes, in my opinion, the big guys are definitely printing experts.

Now we’ll talk about about the print shops that I know the most about. These are the family businesses, and the shops that some person started as a dream, or a hobby. They’re artists, because the owners are the people running the printing presses. These printers are the ones that serve the American Businesses that fuel our economy. The companies that purchase the printing that these shops produce need the largest variety of products. They need business cards, ad slicks, pocket folders. They need materials to go in the pocket folders, they need letterhead, and envelopes. They want cool creative things that are foil stamped, embossed, die cut, folded and glued. They need all kinds of materials for their sales people to be effective. They need postcards and all sorts of other printed stuff to get their message out to their prospects and customers. For a printer to be able to serve these customer’s needs they must be printing experts. These printers have to know every aspect of all of these processes. All of the other printers that I talked about are specialists. This category of printers is a cross section of American commerce. They absolutely have to be “Printing Experts”

By the way, Brandywine Printing falls in the last category that I talked about. The four Brandywine team members that have been in the industry the longest have a combined 115 years experience. Not to mention that the owners can operate every piece of equipment in the building…. except for one. Come on by the shop for a tour to find out which machine it is, until then, consider us your “Printing Experts”!

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