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An Exclusive Members Only Benefit
 

Peer Groups:
What Are They and How You Can Benefit?

General Q&A
Current/Active Peer Groups
Members Seeking to Join Peer Groups

altOur thanks to Mitch Evans, partner in The NEXTLEVEL Group, an organization specializing in the formation and management of peer groups in the printing industry. Mitch provided much of the information below. He can be reached at mitch@the-nextlevelgroup.com or by phone at 561-351-6950. NPOA headquarters staff is also available to answer basic questions regarding peer groups, and we are prepared to help members interested in peer group formation.  

General Q&A Regarding Peer Groups

Peer groups typically consist of printers of similar size and product emphasis who gather periodically to share ideas to help improve each others' businesses. Generally speaking, printers in most peer groups have similar equipment, similar business models (i.e. quick printing, commercial, digital printers, etc.) and use common software. Strict confidentiality among peer group members is assumed, with many requiring all members to sign an agreement to that effect. 

altMost of the peer groups in the industry have been created and run by the groups themselves., with many members originally meeting through trade association conferences, trade shows or participation in various list servs. As a general rule, members are responsible for recruiting new members. Some groups experience significant turnover, usually due to egos and personality conflicts rather than business issues. On some occasions, an individual member may be asked to leave the group if conflicts develop, or a member fails to abide by the rules of the group.

Typically, peer group meetings are held at member print shops, most typically, meetings are held over a two or three-day period of time and are are hosted by one of the group members. This individual often acts as a meeting planner and facilitator. Oftentimes, the meeting highlights or includes a tour of the host shop. 

Peer group members typically share ideas on topics such as sales and marketing, equipment, software, production techniques & efficiencies, human resources, as well as hiring and employee benefits. Peer groups often act as an informal Board of Directors for each member firm.

altVariations Among Peer Groups - Some peer groups bring in speakers to address topics of interest such as insurance, employee benefits, retirement plans, etc. While some peer groups, as noted previously, are totally self-managed, others hire outside individuals termed "facilitators" to plan agendas, set-up meetings, and actually moderate the meetings. Most often, costs for the meetings, as well as any organizational costs, are shared by among members, with each member being responsible for their own travel and hotel costs. Members typically meet two to four times a year, with one of those meetings often being scheduled around an annual conference or trade show.

Sharing of Financial Data - Most peer group members agree to share sales numbers, costs, and other metrics. Other groups go beyond that, agreeing to establish a common "chart of accounts" for the group and to share detailed financial statements such as P&Ls, Balance Sheets, and Statements of Cash Flow.

altKeys of Successful Peer Groups - Some of the more mature and successful groups in the industry share bottom line results and business plans. Many use paid facilitators. Some of the more successful groups mix business with pleasure and hold meetings at resorts or easy access locations. While smaller groups often rely on local speakers, the more mature groups in the industry often turn to paid professional speakers. Historically, companies that are members of peer groups perform, on average, better than companies that aren't.

Why Peer Groups Work - Peer groups, at least the more active and successful ones, help to reduce the learning curve for new initiatives and technologies. The sharing of successes and failures among peer group members tends to benefit all, helping to lower the "lonely at the top" or "lonely at the bottom" sense that sometimes afflicts owners. Peer groups tend to help each other in making decisions, as well as improving the success rates by holding each other accountable to the group. And of course, there is always peer pressure - which simply makes everyone want to keep up and excel!

A Word of Caution - Peer groups do not guarantee a company's success. You will only get out of a peer group as much as you are willing to put into the process. Peer groups are not for owners/CEOs who are not willing to share or tend to be "know-it-alls." You must be prepared to invest both time and money. There are costs involved to be a member of a peer group, regardless of whether it is self-managed or run by an outside facilitator. Annual costs to be a member of a peer group can range from less than $1,000 to $6,000 or more depending upon who manages the group and how often it meets.

 

Peer Groups - Names & Addresses

NAME: The Next Level Group (three distinct groups organized by annual sales volume)
CONTACT: Mitch Evans, Mitch Evans Consulting & The Next Level Group, 168 E. Inlet Drive, Palm Beach, FL 33480, 561-351-6950, www.the-nextlevelgroup.com,  mitch@the-nextlevelgroup.com
Seeking to start new group summer of 2015 


NAME: BFG (Business focus Group) Peer Group
CONTACT: Brian O'Day, ePRINT, 9970 SW Greenburg Rd., Portland, OR 503-684-2679, brianoday@eprint.us
CURRENT OPENINGS:(Currently two openings) 


NAME: NEPG (North East Peer Group)
CONTACT: Jim Sullivan.DSA Printing, 14 Alpha Road,Chelmsford, MA 01824 jim@dsaprint.com
CURRENT OPENINGS: (One opening at present) 


NAME: SEPPG (Southeastern Printers Performance Group)
CONTACT: Travis Strickland, Studio Design Printing, Milledgevile, GA 1-478-452-7721 travis@studiodesignsprinting.com
CURRENT OPENINGS: (Openings 1-3, call for details) 

NPOA Members Seeking to Join Or Start a Peer Group 

Individual NPOA members as well as Peer Group moderators/representatives are free to contact individuals below. We also encourage those individuals listed below to make inquiry calls as well.

Editorial Comment: If you cannot find a group that fits, then seriously consider starting one of your own. That is how many of the groups above began. As with many successful ventures, successful peer groups are often started by one individual who takes the ball, runs with it, and assumes most of the responsibility for the early organizational efforts. Joining or starting a peer groups can be a very rewarding experience and highly beneficial towards improving your bottom line, but they are also not for everyone . You must often be prepared to share extremely confidential information (sometimes personal as well as financial) if you wish to really benefit from such a group. Even if the groups listed above don't appear to be a fit or are too far away, we encourage you to call or email them for further details and guidance. 

The individuals listed below have contacted NPOA and expressed their interest in joining or starting a group:
See Map at Bottom of Page

Phil Van Kampen
Sprint Print
2790 S. Fish Hatchery Road
Madison, WI 53711
608-335-4426
phillip.vankampen@sprintprint.com


Firms in the $1–2 million annual sales range

Mike Henle
Henle Printing Company
601 Jewett St.
Marshall, MN 56258
507-532-4493
mhenle@henleprinting.com
www.henleprinting.com

 

Ketan Shah
Digital Xpress Printing, Inc.
2211 Beaver Ruin Road
Suite 170
Norcross, GA 30071
770-931-2025

Firms in the $750,000–$1,250,000 annual sales range

Dan Flatt
Multi Media Services
11136 River Road
Corning, NY 14830
Interested in East coast, $1.5 million in sales
13 employees
danf@mmsny.com

Sandra Ahlhorn
Speedy Printing
3433 W. Alabama, Houston, Tx 77027
713-877-8466 713-877-8557 FAX
sandra@speedyprinting.net  
www.speedyprinting.net

Firms in the $800,000 sales range

Norcross, GA
Tim Schreur
Schreur Printing & Mailing
10861 Paw Paw Drive
Holland MI 49424
P. 616-392-4405; C. 616-403-2023; F. 616-392-4296
tim@schreurprinting.com

Firms in the $500,000–$999,999 sales range

David Wooldridge Owner
18 Cranes Court, Woburn, MA 01801
781-935-3350, www.dataprint.net
David@dataprint.net 
Sales $500,000 - $999,999 range

Steve Young
Accurate Printers, Inc.
6081 Oakbrook Parkway
Norcross, GA  30093
770/441-2120
www.accurateprinters.com
steve@accurateprinters.com

Firms in the $500,000–$999,999 sales range

Jody & Stacie Phillips
Phillips Printing/SignCraft
Ocala, FL 34471
Annual sales 500,000-999,999
Contact: Jody Phillips 352-622-1776
jody@phillipsprinting.com

Rita Siprak-Weill 
Minuteman Press
111 Chinquapin Round Rd., #102
Annapolis, MD 21401

Rob Robertson
Printing Department, Inc.
2108 Spencer Road
Richmond, VA 23230
804-282-2739
rob@pdi-signs.com

Annual Sales - Less than $500,000/Washington D.C. area preferred

rita@minutemanpress.com 

Nancy Thomsen
Andrews Blueprint, Inc.
269 Griffin Street
Salinas, CA 93901
831-424-0331
nembuno@gmail.com

Firms with sales less than $500,000

Dan Metzger
Fast Print, Inc.
Fort Wayne, IN
3050 E State Blvd, Fort Wayne, IN 46805
260.484.5487
Dan@fastprintinc.com


Simon Sheer
Sheer Graphics Inc.
47 Chestnut Avenue,
Westmont, IL 60559-1127
Tel: (630) 654-4422
Fax: (630) 654-4498
www.sheergraphics.com
ssheers@sheergraphics.com

Interested in groups in the $500,000 range 

* RED Flags -  $500,000 sales range;   GREEN Flags - Firms in in $500,000 - $1.5 Million range