Steal This Mergers & Acquistions (M&A) Playbook - an Antidote to Price Competition and Rising Costs

Various studies claim that the printing market is expected to grow the next few years between 2-4%. While that may be true of the market as a whole, a Printing United Alliance report for 2023 found that,

"Fewer participants in PRINTING United Alliance State of the Industry (SOI) research report sales are growing, more report pre-tax profitability is declining, and nearly three-quarters report credit conditions are tightening or that they expect them to later this year."

The printing industry is always being challenged by price pressures on multiple fronts.

➤ Customers want low prices.
➤ There are always a few competitors who offer un-sustainably low prices. When they close up shop, another takes their place.
➤ Constantly rising paper and raw material costs come at us internally.

Despite the issues, I believe there is always opportunity. One way to counter these ongoing pressures is to take a page out of the big companies’ playbooks and make it our own.

When faced with economic adversity, large companies (and sometimes small ones) often turn to mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to survive and thrive. There are 7 things we can borrow from M&A activity without having to be part of one.

Mergers and acquisitions are a shortcut to growth. Instead of grinding it out on their own, strategic consolidation is designed to deliver fast growth.

Sometimes a merger is a matter of survival in which one or both partners are in financial distress. For our purposes, we’re talking about using the strategies of M&A for our company’s benefit.

Some of the reasons companies get involved in M&A activity include:

• To grow the business.
• To eliminate inefficient operations.
• To eliminate under-used capacity.
• To increase capacity and get economies of scale in areas where there is a need for more production.
• To get desirable customers.
• To get access to a desirable market.
• To diversify.

How Printing Companies Can Get the Benefits of M&A and Remain Independent

antidote to price competition and rising costs in printing


By working strategically with a trade printer like Western Trade Printing, small printing businesses and brokerages can get many of the same benefits of mergers yet remain independent.

Make Print Production More Efficient

Any internal production operation that is marginally profitable or unprofitable is a good candidate for outsourcing to a trade printer. Remember, there is a two-fold benefit to outsourcing such operations.

1. You eliminate the financial drain and add to the bottom line.
2. You free up valuable, limited staff time to devote to higher-margin operations (net more profit from the same staffing.)

For example, a company that prints short-run saddle-stitched catalogs or publications and then collates and stitches by hand is probably not getting the profit margins they could get. 

Our digital press and booklet maker is top of the line, and lets us to pass along significant, aggressive cost savings which can easily improve profit margins on work that might now be done manually.

In turn, this makes the company more efficient, it increases capacity, and equips them to go after new, profitable booklet opportunities that they could never produce internally.

Increase Capacity or Add Print Capabilities

Our production capabilities here at WTP can become your production capabilities. Whether you need to increase your current capacity or add a new capability altogether, a partnership with us can help in areas from pre-press through to finishing, mailing and fulfillment.

The huge benefit here is that you gain this extra capacity without having to spend a dime on equipment leases, floor space, new staff, or overtime costs.

Get Desirable Print Customers or Enter a New Market

The additional capacity and efficiency I just mentioned can be the gateway to new customers or new markets altogether.

For example, perhaps you need access to 40” presses and finishing to be competitive for certain jobs. A partnership with WTP offers instant economy of scale for a wide range of jobs.

Or maybe you need to cut mailing costs to get a foot in the door in a new market. Our long-time use of Sectional Center Facility postal discounts and List Enhancement discounts aren’t familiar to many printers. Yet proper use of these postal discounts can save thousands of dollars on a typical mailing.

For example, on a typical 25,000 piece mailing that normally costs $7319.61, we can save $2181.09—a savings of 30%.

This is what I call a strong differentiator that can open many doors that would otherwise remain forever closed. It’s a powerful point of leverage that makes you a welcome guest for prospective and existing clients alike.

To prove it to you, we'll take your historical list and we will run it through our process to provide you with OUR results. Just give us a call at 559-251-8595 ext. 412 and we’ll quote you the potential savings.

Diversify Your Client Base

Adding capacity for new products and services can attract new customers in a variety of markets. Such diversification adds safety and support to a company’s revenues. If things go south for one market or customer, you now have some downside protection.

Whether you want to grow revenues or simply to become more profitable on your current revenue, a strategic partnership with Western Trade Printing can help. There could be many ways to make your print production more efficient, to increase capacity, to add a new capability, or to attract new clients in different markets.

If you want to talk about how we might collaborate to grow your business with strategies borrowed from successful M&A playbooks, call me at 559-251-8595 ext. 411. Why should the big boys have all the fun!


For more tips on how to grow your printing company, go here.