John Stewart


This is your chance to receive the printing industry's most popular study absolutely FREE! - There's only one catch - In order to receive your FREE copy of the 100+ page 2015-2016 Quick Printing Industry Pricing Study you have to complete and submit your survey by Sept. 30, 2015. It's as simple as that! This year's survey is shorter than ever, and we've modified the rules for participation in order to make it easier than ever for you to get your free copy. Go Here to visit our special Pricing Survey Page. This year's survey and final study is being sponsored by:

NPOA Continues Outreach Efforts
To PrintOwner Listserv Subscribers

NPOA is continuing its efforts to update and confirm the size and location of subscribers to the PrintOwners Listserv. The listserv is by far the most popular and active listserv in the printing industry, and has been in existence since late 1997. Over time, the number of subscribers has grown from a few dozen printers to almost 700. Unfortunately, while it has always been very easy to join the list, it hasn't always been as easy to keep it up-to-date, especially as members moved on or closed their businesses.. We know the PO list contains a fair amount of "deadwood" and "inactive" subscribers but we just don't know how many.

That's where you can help - Whether or not you are a member of NPOA, if you are currently a subscriber to the PrintOwners Listserv we are asking every reader (unless you have already responded to our previous requests) to take our six-question survey:  Firms failing to respond to our survey by Sept. 3, 2015 risk being suspended from the list. See note at the bottom of this article. 

Although the survey asks for basic information such as owner's name, company name and full mailing address, it also asks a couple of related questions. The results below are based upon approximately 350 subscribers who have already completed our survey. 


 After September 3, 2015, PrintOwner Listserv subscribers who fail to provide the necessary survey information will be temporarily dropped from the list, but may resubscribe almost instantly using a new form we will be providing. The reality of "dropping subscribers" is really not as harsh as it may sound since we may in fact be dropping folks who have not been active subscribers in years, but simply failed to use the unsubscribe features provided by the listserv - Plain and simple, we just need to clean up the PO Listserv!

 Suppliers to Sponsor Next Pricing Study...

Three Key Industry Suppliers Step-Up
To Sponsor Next Industry Pricing Study

NPOA wants you to keep an eye open in the next couple of weeks for the association's newest industry survey - the 2015-2016 Quick Printing Industry Pricing Survey. The Survey is undergoing final proofing and editing and we expect to release the survey within the next next two weeks. The survey is open to all participants, regardless of NPOA membership. All firms who complete the survey will be entitled to a free copy of the final study which is scheduled to be released in early fall.

NPOA also wants to sincerely thank our sponsors - EFI, Printer's Plan and RICOH for sponsoring this year's survey and study.


One Hour to Greater Profits...

Benchmarking Study Reveals How
Winners Remain Winners in Industry!

By John Stewart, Executive Director, NPOA   

In 1983 I was fortunate enough to work with industry guru Larry Hunt and fellow printer Abe Corton (since deceased) on the industry's first attempt to gather information and publish financial data that would help fellow printers improve their profitability. We worked to produce a document that would really analyze the nuts and bolts of how some printers were extremely profitable year after year, while others struggled just to survive. Those were the boom days for many, so much so that I remember addressing audiences and telling them that the financial opportunities in our industry were so good, that "you had to be really stupid to fail," and I followed up that remark by saying, "but some folks proved it could be done if they worked hard enough!"

For many years, the studies were referred to as Operating Ratio Studies. Beginning In 2010, the name of the studies was changed to Financial Benchmarking Studies in the hope that the change in name would better clarify what they were all about. No such luck! To be honest, when I first got involved in the industry in the late 1970's I didn't know what an "operating ratio" or "benchmarking ratio" was all about, and I was too embarrassed to ask! It wasn't until I had the opportunity to meet and learn from Larry Hunt that I had an opportunity learn about key ratios and I learned that it really wasn't as complicated as some would have you believe. So I started helping Larry gather the numbers and the key ratios required in our industry. Larry was the numbers guy and I just plugged the numbers into a spreadsheet program called Visicalc, which was the forerunner of today's Excel.

The rest is history - Larry and I have continued to work on various projects for more than 30+ years, the most important of which has been the publication of the biennial financial benchmarking studies. During the ensuing three decades, Even after all these years and being involved in publishing dozens and dozens of studies, I still believe there is no study published in the industry as important as the benchmarking studies!

Although not as "flashy" or "sexy" as some of the other studies produced by NAQP, NAPL or NPOA, I have come to appreciate the fact that these benchmarking studies are clearly the most valuable publications produced by this or any association. They are packed with information found no where else in the industry. You can't get this information from bankers or from CPA firms, or even some of the older printing associations - today there is only one place you can go to get critical information for helping you turn your business around (if it needs turning around), or just help you increase your current profit margins - The NPOA Benchmarking Study.

I used to advise consulting clients that, "If you do nothing more than read the Larry Hunt's 'Executive Summary' that appears in the front of every benchmarking study, and you ignore everything else in the study, you would still know more about this industry and what it takes to make a profit than 80-90% of your competitors." Don't get me wrong - it will definitely take more than just reading the information and studying the charts to boost your profits, but that is a good start. You will also have to make some very hard, very painful decisions in order to really turn your business around, but then again that's what owning your own business is all about!

There is a myth floating around the industry, especially among younger owners, that it is a far different industry than it was 30 years ago, and while that may be true in some aspects, there are some things that haven't changed whatsoever. On average, owners still report the same percentage for cost of goods today as they did 32 years ago! Overhead expenses have actually dropped as a percent of sales by almost 5%. Labor costs, however, have jumped 9% during this time. As a result, this industry's overall profitability has dropped considerably from almost 18% in 1983 to 13.7% in 2013. (P.S. the 2014-2015 Financial Benchmarking Study contains 12 revealing charts, tables and graphs regarding profitability in our industry - information found no where else!

There is good news - Fortunately, there is good news as well. The "profit leaders" in our industry, those who constitute the top 25% of this industry in terms of "owners compensation," never seemed to get the news about all the doom and gloom in our industry. The "profit leaders" in our industry continue to perform quite well, despite the naysayers at the bottom who claim the sky is falling and that profits are non existent.

The NPOA 2014-2015 Financial Benchmarking Study is truly an information-packed study. It contains 104 pages of profit & loss statements, balance sheets and key ratio pages. You will find a variety of breakouts in this study based upon size of firm, franchise affiliation and even the percent of brokered sales. Most important of all, however, are the "Profit Leader" analyses contained in this study.... analyses that succinctly spell out the differences between how the leaders in our industry stack up as compared to the laggards. 

Read More

NPOA Appeals to Large Cross Section in Industry

Recent Analysis of Membership Data by NPOA
Reveals Interesting Statistics on Sales & SPE

A recent analysis of data extracted from NPOA membership records reveals that our membership represent a broad spectrum of the industry, both in terms of annual sales and sales per employee data. While the average annual sales of NPOA members is currently $1.5 million, the median is almost half that at $850,000. Based on the data depicted below, we can make some generalized statements as to annual sales of our members:

    • Approximately 20% of our members report annual sales of $499,999 and below.
    • Approximately 50% of our membership reports annual sales of $999,999 or below.
    • Approximately 26% of our membership reports annual sales between $1-1.9 million.
    • Approximately 18% of our membership reports annual sales of $2 million or greater                                                                                               

Interpreting the Data Above - The green bar indicates that 36.3% of NPOA members reported their annual sales falling between $500,000 and $999,999. Read all other bar data in a similar fashion.

 The reason for the significant gap between the average (mean) and the median is the simple fact that NPOA, in addition to serving many smaller firms, has also attracted to its ranks a significant number of firms with sales in the $2-4 million sales range, as well as a smaller number of firms reporting annual sales of $5-15 million. Contrary to what some outsiders may think, NPOA appears to appeal to many owners ranging from very small firms to very large ones!

The chart above should be read/interpreted similarly to the previous chart. As an example, the yellow bar indicates that 30.9% of the NPOA membership reported their sales per employee to be between $100,000 and $125,000. Another 23% reported their SPE to be between $125,001 and $150,000. Note too that 26% of our database reported an SPE of $150,000 or greater.

NPOA SPE Data by Quartiles - After calculating the sales per employee of member firms, we then ranked the SPE data from low to high and divided the data into four even quartiles, and then calculated the average sales per employee for each quartile. The data as charted below is self-explanatory. While approximately 25% of NPOA membership reports an average SPE of $183,152, the bottom quartile struggles with productivity when measured by SPE.


NPOA Launches New Links Page
For Signs & Wide Format Industry

NPOA Member Rob Roberston, owner of the Printing Department, Inc., Richmond, VA. has helped the association launch a brand new, members-only page providing useful resources, links and commentary for association members involved in the signs and wide format segment of our industry. Assisting Robertson with the project were Signs & Wide Format Sign Committee members Barry Martin (Copy Quik, Hagerstown, MD), Dennis Trump, (Trump Direct, Decatur, IL), and John Henry, (Mitchell Printing & Mailing, Oswego, NY).

NPOA needs your help and support to make this new page grow and be helpful to other members. If you're in the signs and wide format industry, and you have found dealers and suppliers who have been very helpful (or maybe not so helpful) then let us know.. Drop us an email at and share your own links and comments. "This page can help both newcomers and old-timers in the sign industry, but we need to give it a life of its own by constantly updating and revising the page," notes Robertson. "Please, if you have some special vendors you'd like to share, or some comments about where you have found the best dealswhen it comes to this end of the industry please contact me either at the above address, or my own address at:

Visit the New Signs & Wide Format page today by clicking here. You will need your user name and password to access the page. 

NPOA Seeking Pricing Study Volunteers

Help Your Association Draft New
New Industry Pricing Study Questionnaire

NPOA is seeking 18-25 association members willing to assist in developing the next survey questionnaire for the 2015-2016 Quick Printing Industry Pricing Survey. We plan to distribute the survey in mid-late August and publish the final study in Oct. 2015.

The Pricing Survey, as it has in the past, will cover some or all of the following:
  • Pre-press and graphics services
  • Digital color copying data and pricing
  • Digital BW printing prices
  • 1-C Offset Printing
  • 2-color Offset Printing
  • Basic Bindery Services
The challenge, which is greater than ever, is to try and shorten the survey while targeting the most popular items and services facing most shops these days. We may be forced to trim back on bindery services but will rely on the committee for their advice.
How much of your time do we need? We need individuals who will (1) download and print-out the attached Pricing Survey PDF, (2) read it carefully, and (3) then be willing to suggest what can or should be cut, and what might be added. (4) We need folks who are just as willing to suggest deletions and cuts as they are to suggest new products to price. (5) If, after reviewing the last questionnaire, you think that it is pretty good and only needs minor changes we welcome that as well.
We need folks who understand that these surveys are designed to uncover first and foremost current pricing for specific products.... not the processes or machines used to produce the products. We do not have time or space to analyze how these products are run or what equipment is used. We are solely interested in retail & discounted selling prices for specific products. We need folks who understand the difference between "Wouldn't it be nice to know...." vs. "we must know..."
I will create a master distribution list, gather the comments as they come in, and then redistribute to the committee. As time goes by, I will begin to forward drafts of the survey as it is developed.
How to volunteer? Simply drop me a private email at with Pricing Study Committee in the subject line. The link below will take you to a page where you will find a PDF of the last Pricing Study Questionnaire for your review.
Time is of the essence since we always move with a "Sense of Urgency" on projects such as this so we need to hear from you ASAP if you are willing to help.
John Stewart, Executive Director, NPOA

Exclusive offer to NPOA members...

Printware Offers Free On-Site Installation
Of iJet 4-Color Inkjet Envelope Press 

Printware Offers NPOA Members Free, on-site installation and training anywhere in the continental U.S. plus a spare print head ($2,000 total value) - courtesy of the Memjet expert Printware iJetColor Team.  For additional information click on the link above, or contact Bill Frederick, Director of Sales, Printware, St. Paul, MN. 1-800-456-1400 ext. 418.

New NPOA Benefits Page

Recently, NPOA received a call from a prospective member who politely complained that it was difficult, especially for a non-member visiting the site, to at least view some of the many benefits available from the association.

We agreed with the caller, and immediately began working on a benefits page. The page is a work in process. It does not provide direct links, since most of those links are for members only, but it does illustrate what and where to find special special benefits and publications.

Links for Sign Services & Products - We are also currently working on a dedicated page of helpful links to assist members who are involved in signs and large format and we hope to have that page available soon. If you have an idea for a new service or product that might benefit the membership please don't hesitate to drop us an email with your suggestions.

NPOA Releases Executive Summary
Of New Signs & Wide Format Pricing Study

NPOA has just released a 40-page Executive Summary of its latest industry research project - the 2015-2016 Signs & Wide Format Pricing Study. The Executive Summary is available for NPOA members only.

To download your copy, visit the NPOA main page and then select MEMBERSHIP > MEMBERS ONLY. Although the Executive Summary is not meant to be a substitute for the entire 100+ page study, it nonetheless provides an excellent overview of pricing practices and trends in the signs and wide format industry. The complete 100+ page study was released last week and distributed to more than 200 companies who participated in the original survey and submitted their survey forms by the published deadlines. More than 40 companies who pre-ordered the study have also received their links as well. To purchase the complete study, visit the NPOA Bookstore. 

Do Contracts Promoted by Associations
And Franchisors Offer the Best Deals?


Newsletter Publisher and guest columnist Dirck Holscher offers 14 steps for getting the very best deal on your next color or B&W digital printer/copier. Holscher refutes the often-held belief that you must have access to association-negotiated purchasing contracts or special pricing offered by franchisors in order to strike the best deal on a digital printer or copier.

In fact, as you read this NPOA "members-only" article, you will understand why in many cases the older the contract the more it can hurt you by going with the "contract price."

Titled, "Do Association & Franchise Purchase Agreements Always Insure You'll Receive the Best Deal," this article offers up a 14-Item checklist that should prove helpful to NPOA members considering their next copier purchase. Click here to read the full article. Remember, you will need your user name and password to access the column.

Pre-Order and Save 15%

Signs & Wide Format Pricing Study
Set for Release Week of June 1st

NPOA will begin distributing the 2015-2016 Signs & Wide Format Pricing Study during the first week of June. Approximately 215 Firms who participated in the survey as well as companies who pre-ordered their copy, will receive a special email between June 1-5 providing detailed instructions on where to go to download the study.

Although the Signs & Wide Format Pricing Study will retail for $195, NPOA members can purchase the complete study for Only $117, representing a 40% member-discount. However, members can save an additional 15% off the member price and pay only $99 but they must pre-order before June 1, 2015. Once the study is formally released, NPOA member pricing will revert to $117. Place your order today by visiting the NPOA Bookstore. NPOA will also be distributing a condensed "Executive Summary" of the new Signs and Wide Format Study to all NPOA members between June 8-12.

NPOA's newest industry study is more than 100+ pages and is packed with useful pricing information banners, posters, dozens of substrates, decals and much, much more.... Members can still take advantage of special pre-order pricing by reading below. To preview some of the charts contained in the study as well as check the official list of Study Participants click here

100+ Page Pricing Study Released

NPOA Signs & Wide Format Study
Distributed to Participants June 3, 2015

All owners, both NPOA members as well as non-members, who participated in the 2015-2016 Signs & Wide Format Pricing Survey have received a link directing them to a confidential site for downloading this just released study. Look for the email with the subject line: "Confidential - Your Sign Study PDF Link." To confirm whether you are on the official distribution list please click here. If you believe you participated in this study, but do not find your name on the list, you will be asked to provide copies of your previously submitted survey form to confirm your participation.

This New 100+ page study not only provides popularity and user ratings for printers, RIPS, cutters and laminators used in the sign industry, it also reveals the latest pricing practices for 18 of industry's most popular substrates. The study also includes both suggested retail and discounted prices provided by survey participants. Some of the substrates and products covered in this pricing study include standard vinyl, outdoor banners, banner mesh, wall vinyls, foam core, and corrugated plastic. Other products covered include cast vinyl, ACM Panel, art canvas, magnetic and PVC plastic.

Many of the more popular sign-industry products such as banners, foam core, Coroplast, aluminum signs as well as square-cut and contour-cut decals are priced based both on various sizes and quantities ordered. Pricing for simple vehicle decals, flat surface vehicle wraps and window perfs are also covered in this brand-new study! This study also compares the pricing practices of small firms versus large volume firms in terms of annual sign sales!

This study is sold on a 100% Money-Back Guarantee!

To Order Your Copy, Visit the
NPOA Bookstore

Copies available either as a PDF (shipped within 12 hours)
or as Hard Copies (shipped within 24 hours via USPS Priority Mail.)

NPOA Member Price: $117       Non-Member Price: $195

NPOA Offers Preview of 2015-2016
Signs & Wide Format Pricing Study

The 2015-2016 Signs and Wide Format Pricing Study, published by the National Print Owners Association and QP Consulting, Inc., is scheduled for release on or before June 1, 2015. NPOA’s soon-to-be-released study contains more than 800 average, median and unit prices for a broad variety of sign products and services.

More than 230 firms participated in this latest association sponsored survey. According to preliminary data, the average annual sales for our survey participants in 2014 was $1,421,000, while the median sales was $765,000. When asked what “What percent of those sales were attributed to signs and wide format products” the average was 9.8%, or $139,000. The median percent of sign sales was 6.2% or $47,600. Below is just one of more than two dozen graphs and charts scheduled to appear in the final study. Visitors can get more information about what to expect from this new study by Clicking Here. NPOA members can get an even closer, "early bird" look at average ratings provided by survey participants for specific printers, RIPs, laminators and cutters by visiting this special Members Only page.

NPOA Launches Peer Group Page

NPOA Assists Members
With Peer Group Data

Following up on promises made by NPOA to attendees at its 3rd Annual Owners Conference in Orlando last month, NPOA has now launched a new, "Members-Only" page to provide association members with some of the basic information needed to decide whether peer groups are the "way to go," and who to contact if you wish to further pursue the goal. The idea for providing such assistance came during a popular seminar at the conference titled "Pick Your Partners" and hosted by popular industry consultant Mitch Evans.

Peer Group Panelists Ed Guiles (ASAP Printing, Okemus, MI), Dave Monto (Dutchess ProPrint, Wappingers Falls, NY) and Sam Pulice, (Mojave Copy & Signs, Victorville, CA), all stressed to the audience how membership in peer groups had benefited their own operations. The panelists also stressed the importance of being willing to both give advice as well as accept advice from fellow peer group members. "If you're not willing to share detailed financial information about your company's performance, both the good and the bad, then peer groups are probably not for you," was one of the themes addressed during the fast-paced presentation. 

Peer Group Facilitators as well as NPOA members looking for additional information about peer groups are urged to contact NPOA directly at:

NPOA Conference Sets Attendance Record

More than 160 NPOA Members Show Up
For Owners Conference in Orlando

Ryan Sauers, one of many popular speakers at NPOA's 3rd Annual Owners Conference in Orlando, FL April 16-18, poses with his daughter Brooke just prior to conducting one of two of his popular seminars. Brooke was also one of the hits at the NPOA popular Ideas Exchange as she raced between tables offering the mike to attendees who wanted to share their winning ideas for increasing sales and marketing efforts. For more photos taken at the conference click here. To view photos of conference attendees posing with the ever-popular Mickey Mouse, click on Mickey Mouse.


More than 160 owners, spouses, associate members and vendors attended the conference, with the vast majority rating the conference the best ever! More conference details along with links to various PDFs and handouts will be made available shortly. NPOA also announced that San Antonio will be the site of its next Owners Conference, April 14-16, 2016. If you haven't had a chance to view the video, visit our home page and click on video!   


More Than 200 Firms Complete
Sign & Wide Format Survey!

NPOA closes out sign survey with more than 200 respondents.... NPOA's first-ever survey of pricing practices in the sign industry ended with a bang, receiving more than 40 surveys in the last five days! Early examination of the data indicates an extremely low margin of error, thus assuring that NPOA will be able to publish highly accurate data on some of the most common sign products and services.

The New Survey is expected to be released in late May. All firms submitting a completed survey will receive a free copy of the final study. The survey covers some of the most popular services in the sign industry, including laminating charges, banners, and posters. The study will include specific pricing for substrates such as Foam Core, Coroplast, ACM, aluminum and magnetic. Pricing data will include pricing based upon square footage, quantities and specific sizes.

Price of the final study will be $195 for non-members, and $117 for NPOA members.

Leveraging Print MIS Customer Data to drive leads

Customer Loyalty and Lead Generation
Webinar Video Released by Survey Advantage

Survey Advantage, an NPOA Associate Member and Vendor Partner at the association's upcoming conference in Orlando, has just released a 7-minute video detailing how printers can increase repeat purchases, improve customer retention, generate leads and drive 5-star online reviews to their website. The new video highlights the many unique features of Survey Advantage's special CustomerPulse™ service, according to Michael Casey, President of Survey Advantage. Casey has been involved  in customer service, sales, and marketing for more than 30 years and currently helps more than 700 printers from across the country.

Many printers fail to leverage loyalty - According to Casey, 82% of print buyers are very likely to recommend their printer to other business owners, but few printers effectively leverage this loyalty. Learn how printers use CustomerPulse™ to drive five-star reviews to help them further market their business. In this  7-minute video, Casey shares an innovative way to leverage customer loyalty to drive sales and marketing. Survey Advantage is a NPOA Vendor Partner. Click here to view the video.

As an added incentive - During the month of April, Survey Advantage is offering NPOA members a 50% discount on all setup fees (Savings of up to $150.)

Members Respond to Survey on Conferences

Almost 70% of NPOA Members
Say Conferences Are Important! 

Thanks in large measure to the willingness of NPOA members to provide their input, the Board of Directors of the association has received some valued input as a result of a NPOA Member Survey conducted in early March 2015. The survey was designed to elicit member opinions on topics such as annual conferences, association services and topics of greatest interest. The new survey uncovered some interesting results regarding the value of annual conferences as well as the potential value of taking shorter programs and seminars "On the road."

More than 30% of NPOA’s membership answered the eight-question survey. As the survey stressed, the association is “constantly striving to improve our member services, and one of the best ways to do this is simply by asking for your opinions and asking you what you want from your association.” This specific member survey concentrated on the association’s educational efforts, with special emphasis on owner’s conferences and other special programs. NPOA members can read the full story and review some of the revealing graphs by clicking here

Meet NPOA's Newest Board Member...

3rd Generation Print Shop Owner
Is Appointed Secretary of NPOA

Betsy Allen, a third generation print shop owner from Cortland, NY was recently elected by the NPOA Board of Directors to fill an existing vacancy on the board. She will fill the position of "NPOA Secretary." For a complete list of officers, click here. Betsy has been working in the printing industry full-time for thirty years. She grew up in her family’s shop, Cortland Press, which was started by her Grandfather, Hershel Cross, in 1957 and was passed on to her parents in 1978.  

In 2004, Betsy and her husband Paul founded a completely new, digital, print & copy business with a storefront on Main Street in Cortland, NY - Carbon Copies. Betsy took over ownership of Cortland Press in 2005 and Betsy and Paul joined the two businesses later that year. 

Today, Betsy runs Cortland Press & Carbon Copies on Main Street in Cortland; she has grown the combined shops into a very busy commercial and offset printing center that has a reputation for superior quality, attention to detail and the diversity of the types of jobs that they run.

Xerox recently reached out and asked them to be one of only two test sites in the world (the other in Europe) for a three month period of the recently released Xerox Versant 80 digital press. Xerox sent a film crew in to capture Betsy’s impression of the press. The video can be viewed here