Headlines
Fastsigns International, franchisor of Fastsigns printing entities, signed 63 franchise agreements in 2016 with new and existing franchisees in the U.S., Canada and U.K. In the company’s most recent third quarter, the brand inked 22 new agreements, including 13 locations in western and midwestern states like California, Texas, Kansas, New Mexico and Washington.

In addition, Fastsigns opened 35 new centres in 2016 in new and existing markets with a projected 45 additional opening in 2017.

Fastsigns International currently more than 650 independently owned and operated locations in nine countries worldwide, including the U.S., Canada, England, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Grand Cayman, Mexico and Australia (where centres operate as Signwave).

The Fastsigns brand also signed a Master Franchise Agreement in the Dominican Republic and U.S. Virgin Islands, adding new countries to Fastsigns’ global footprint.

“2016 was another record year for Fastsigns. Our network generated over $446,000,000 in sales with strong sales growth in all regions and countries. We have the highest franchisee satisfaction ratings in the industry,” said Catherine Monson, President and CEO, Fastsigns International.

Fastsigns International was recently ranked number 1 in the Business Services/Signs category and 95th overall in Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500, a globally recognized comprehensive franchise ranking.

“Growth like this definitely underscores the power of the Fastsigns brand and strength of our business model. We look forward to continuing this rapid expansion as 2017 brings a strong focus on the Northeast corridor, New England, Southern California and beyond, including entering new countries,” said Mark Jameson, EVP of Franchise Support and Development, Fastsigns International, Inc.

In addition to more than 400 U.S. and Canadian markets targeted for development, Fastsigns has more than 65 international locations open for continued expansion.
DATA Communications Management Corp. of Brampton, Ontario, has completed an additional investment in its printing platform, including an emphasis on label production, and announced upcoming consolidation of some of its existing nine facilities spread out across the country.

The new round of capital equipment investment focuses around another Xerox iGen 5 press, together with other upgrades and technology enhancements to its current label presses, in the first quarter of 2017. The total investment in these enhanced capabilities is approximately $2.1 million.

"These investments dramatically increase our capabilities in key growth segments of our business,” said Michael Sifton, CEO, DATA Communications. “We remain the leading cutsheet digital colour manufacturing company in Canada and our expanded label capabilities will further establish DATA as one of the leading providers of label products and solutions in the country.”

In January 2016, DATA, then operating as The DATA Group, announced an investment of $6.7 million to acquire multiple new Xerox presses, which Xerox described as one of the single largest toner-production upgrades by a Canadian printing company in 2015. Installations of the new Xerox equipment began in December 2015.

In addition to its new equipment investment, DATA is also announced plans to consolidate its Regina, Saskatchewan, manufacturing and warehousing operations into its Calgary, Alberta facility.

The company also plans to close its Brossard, Quebec Document Process Outsourcing facility, effective March 31, 2017, in addition to the outsourcing of its call centre facility to a third-party business process outsourcing provider, effective March 1, 2017.  The Company expects to incur total restructuring costs of approximately $0.9 million in connection with these initiatives.

“Our goal 18 months ago was to focus on business where we excel, are profitable, and have the ability to grow," said Sifton. “With these initiatives, we have completed our transition and now have five centres of manufacturing excellence across the country.”

In addition to these changes, DATA also announced the departure of Jeff Gladwish, Vice President, Marketing and Corporate Development. “Jeff has served the company well through our transition and we wish him well in his future endeavours,” said Sifton. “The direction we are taking centres on expanding our services with existing customers and capturing growing segments within the print production and data management areas. As such, our marketing push will be highly targeted and customer centric.”

DATA’s core capabilities include direct marketing, print services, labels and asset tracking, event tickets and gift cards, logistics and fulfilment, content and workflow management, data management and analytics, and regulatory communications. The company serves clients in vertical markets such as financial services, retail, healthcare, lottery and gaming, not-for-profit, and energy.
Ricoh today announced its acquisition of Toronto-based Avanti Computer Systems, which has been a leading developer of Management Information Systems dedicated to the printing industry for approximately three decades.

In July 2013, Ricoh made a strategic investment in Avanti as the MIS developer was preparing to launch its new generation Avanti Slingshot solution, which was released in the fall of that year at Graph Expo. One of the most-advanced MIS products in today's print market, Slingshot was built around a completely new coding infrastructure and the MIS sector’s highest level of JDF certification for automation.

Avanti’s Slingshot product, which can be cloud-based or hosted onsite, was in development for over three years before its launch, built from the ground-up to handle multiple lines of business, including large-format inkjet, toner and offset lithography, mailing and fulfillment workflows, as well as creative, marketing and data management services from one platform. The development of Avanti Slingshot was featured as the cover story of PrintAction’s August 2013 issue, The Slingshot Effect.)

“We are committed to continual portfolio advancements aimed at helping our customers grow their businesses and improve their efficiency,” said Jeff Paterra, Senior VP and GM, Technology & Solutions Development, Ricoh, about the Avanti acquisition. “We know that in order to achieve this, they need complete solutions which address their business needs. While our Ricoh Pro Series continues to grow market share globally thanks to its high quality and high productivity, customers look to Ricoh to resolve wider issues surrounding upstream and downstream systems. Our acquisition of Avanti helps us more effectively do just that.”
 
Previously, Ricoh acquired MarcomCentral (formerly known as PTI Marketing Technologies) in December 2014, a move to help build the company’s position in providing Web to print, marketing asset management, and variable data printing tools. With the addition of Avanti, Ricoh explains the acquisition of Avanti enables its software portfolio to cover the entire production workflow.

“Ricoh’s initial strategic investment in Avanti three years ago gave us an unparalleled opportunity to advance product development and further deliver innovative MIS solutions,” said Patrick Bolan, President of Avanti. “The acquisition by Ricoh sets the stage for Avanti to accelerate growth into the global marketplace.”
On January 13, 2017, The C.J. Group of Companies concluded the sale of its three existing buildings, accounting for approximately 125,000 square feet of space on 4.5 acres of land in Etobicoke, Ontario.

The company, led by President and CEO Jay Mandarino, has purchased the current Veritiv facility located at 560 Hensall Circle near Cawthra and Dundas Streets in Mississauga, Ontario. Sitting just west of the Etobicoke border, the new location is approximately 10 minutes away from C.J. Group’s current locations.

Veritiv is currently completing the build of its brand new headquarters, to be housed in a 450,000-square-foot facility, also in Mississauga. The new Veritiv building is scheduled to be complete by around April 2017 with move-in planned for shortly after.

C.J. Group is scheduled to take possession of the current Veritiv building, which is located on eight acres, with two floors and approximately 230,000 square feet of space, in May 2017. The printing company plans to be moved into its new facility, which features 27-foot-high ceilings and more than 300 parking spots – by October 2017. Mandarino describes the new C.J. Group facility as the largest independently owned facility for printing and communications in Canada.

Mandarino continues to explain the company plans to add to add full mailing services, a new sheetfed litho press, a new large format press, and a new digital press as it moves into the plant, in addition to expansion of its bindery and other divisions. The new facility will also house SBC Media, a sports magazine operation, which C.J. Group acquired in late-2015.

With purchase of the new building, renovations and new equipment, C.J. Group explains it will be investing more than $25 million in its expansion.

C.J. Group's previous most-recent expansion was featured in PrintAction's January 2015 issue.
Xaar of Cambridge, United Kingdom, reached an agreement with Xerox Corporation to partner in the development of bulk piezoelectric inkjet printheads. Xaar is soley focused on the production of industrial print heads, while Xerox holds a range of hardware, software and service technologies for the printing industry.

"Continued investment in technology and product development, together with strategic partnerships, are key elements of our 2020 vision," said Doug Edwards, CEO of Xaar.

Xaar states the partnership capitalizes on each company's expertise in bulk piezo printhead development and will leverage both companies’ technologies. Xaar also explains the partnership allows it to provide customers with a broader range of bulk piezo printheads.
Deschamps Impression of Québec City, Québec, has acquired another of the province’s best-known commercial printing operations in Imprimerie Litho Chic. With this acquisition, Deschamps will have more than 200 employees and increase its annual sales to over $33 million.

The Litho Chic acquisition compliments a year of capital-equipment investment by Deschamps. In May 2016, the printing company bought a new Xerox iGen5 press, as well as binding and finishing equipment for its Montreal plant.

In December 2016, Deschamps Impression expanded its Québec City facility by almost 5,000 square feet. In January 2017, the company is installing a brand new 5-colour Heidelberg CX-102 press in its’ Quebec City facility.

“Our first objective in buying this company is to increase our presence in the Québec market where we have been in business for more than 90 years,” said Jean Deschamps, President and Chief Operating Officer of Deschamps Impression.

Founded in 1987, Imprimerie Litho Chic specializes in commercial work with both offset and digital printing systems. Jean Bilodeau and Michel Leclerc of Litho Chic will continue to play key roles within the Deschamps Impression organization.

“The clients from both companies will be the first to benefit from this transaction as we will improve our turnaround time, our production capacity, and a wider variety of services provided,” said Jean Bilodeau.

On top of high-end commercial printing, Deschamps Impression focuses on providing clients with prepress services, security and digital printing, as well as pharmaceutical and cosmetic folding-carton and box printing, in addition to bindery and finishing services.
Family and friends of the late Tim Upton, who passed away in October 2015 at age 83 after a storied career as one of Canadian printing’s best-known technology leaders, gathered in mid-December at Howard Graphic Equipment’s new facility in Mississauga, Ontario, to inaugurate a new library in his honour.

Helen Upton, daughters Julie and Heather, son Anthony, their spouses and grandchildren, were joined by printing-industry leaders from the past and present for the Timothy O. Upton Library dedication.

The Upton Library is part of the Howard Iron Works Museum (www.howardironworks.org), run by Nick and Liana Howard. The museum focuses on the preservation and history of the printing industry, restoring and showcasing machinery with a specific focus on the years 1830 to 1950. The Upton Library is the centre point of the facility and holds over 1,000 books dedicated to the printing art and its technology.

Upton spent his working life in the graphic arts. In 1959, he emigrated from Britain to Canada and went to work for Sears Ltd., which represented several leading printing and bindery brands with offices across Canada. He eventually moved to Edmonton as a Branch Manager for Sears, followed by a posting in London, Ontario, before arriving in Toronto as Vice President of Sales for Sears.

In 1984, Upton continued his career with the newly minted Heidelberg Canada in the role of Senior Vice President of Sales, where he remained until 1994, before spending his final 10 working years with Howard Graphic Equipment Ltd. Founded in 1967, Howard Graphic Equipment provides pre-owned late model machinery to the graphic arts, conducting business in over 74 countries across the globe.

“Tim was prompt: Do not ever be late, because he never was. Do not make silly excuses because Tim never did. Be honest, truthful – even if it hurts. I knew my place and it was firmly two steps back of Tim most of the time. Of all the salespeople I have known, Tim was the best – bar none. Why? Because he was real,” wrote Nick Howard upon Upton’s passing.

“He never played games, sucked up to ownership or thought of anyone as being better than himself. Tim’s nickname The Bulldog is fitting,” continued Howard. “One might assume it came from his rugby days, but, no, Tim was just a selfless and tireless man, who, as Churchill once said, never gave up.”

KBA North America has been named the North American exclusive distributor for the Barcelona-based medium- and large-format flatbed diecutter manufacturer Iberica AG S.A., which was purchased in May 2016 by the press maker’s German parent company, Koenig & Bauer.

Iberica has been producing machinery for the printing and packaging industries for 64 years. KBA describes its new subsidiary, KBA-Iberica Die Cutters S.A., with around 60 employees, as the world’s second largest manufacturer of die-cutting and creasing machines.

“Iberica has a superb reputation in its market. With this acquisition, our parent company is underscoring its focus on the growing packaging market delivering 70 percent of its presses to folding-carton printers,” said Mark Hischar, President and CEO of KBA North America. “KBA has cemented its reputation as the longstanding market leader in folding carton printing. By adding flatbed die-cutters to our portfolio for the same customer group provides an opportunity for KBA to expand its strong market position.”

The distributorship – with sales, service and parts support – began on January 1, 2017.

Members of Xerox’ executive team this morning rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate the company’s successful completion of separating into two publically traded companies.

The separation plan was first announced in early 2016 during the Connecticut company’s year-end public financial presentations, where Xerox leaders explained it would create a Document Technology company, retaining the Xerox Corporation name, and a Business Process Outsourcing company eventually unveiled as Conduent by mid-2016.

Ashok Vemuri, former President and CEO of IGATE Corporation, was appointed as CEO of Conduent and long-time printing-industry executive Jeff Jacobson was named as CEO of the new Xerox entity.

“Today is an historic day for Xerox,” said Jacobson on January 3, 2017, when the completed separation was announced publically. “The successful completion of the separation sharpens our market focus and commitment to our customers. I am confident the transformational actions we are implementing position Xerox for long-term success and unlocks shareholder value.”

Under the terms of the separation, on the distribution date of Dec. 31, 2016, Xerox shareholders received one share of Conduent common stock for every five shares of Xerox common stock they held. In connection with the spin-off, Xerox received a cash transfer from Conduent of US$1.8 billion, which it intends to use, along with cash on hand, to retire approximately US$2 billion in debt.

With approximately US$11 billion in 2015 revenue and approximately 39,000 employees, Xerox remains a Fortune 500-scale company, explains the company. With approximately US$7 billion in 2015 revenue and 96,000 employees worldwide, Xerox explains Conduent will also be a Fortune 500-scale business process services company with expertise in transaction-intensive processing, analytics and automation.

In 2016, Xerox noted Conduent will have the second-largest market share in the business process outsourcing industry, with services that touch two-thirds of all insured patients in the U.S. and more than half of all mobile phone subscribers in the U.S.
Kodak in late December provided an update on the sale process for its Prosper commercial inkjet business. The company first announced it was in talks to sell the business in March 2016 after engaging advisors and banks to manage to process.

“We anticipated an announcement of an agreement for the sale of the Prosper business by the end of 2016 and remain in talks with potential buyers. We now expect discussions to continue into 2017,” said Philip Cullimore, President of Kodak’s Enterprise Inkjet and Micro 3D Printing & Packaging Divisions. Details of the sale process remain confidential.

“We have been gratified by the interest in the Prosper business as well as the continuing support and loyalty of our customers,” said Cullimore. “The Prosper business has been very strong over the first nine months of 2016 with the placement of 12 presses, more than in any comparable period.”

Cullimore added that Kodak saw a 41 percent increase in annuity revenues in the third quarter, versus the same period a year earlier, through the Prosper business, which is currently being evaluated by the company to push deeper into publishing, high volume direct mail and packaging. In addition, the company is planning to refocus the business to emphasize print head components and the development of its Ultrastream technology.

Ultrastream was introduced at drupa 2016 in May as Kodak’s next generation of inkjet technology. “Sixteen leading printing equipment manufacturers and integrators have signed Letters of Intent to OEM products based on Ultrastream technology,” said Cullimore.

Ultrastream, built on Kodak’s continuous inkjet Stream technology, is aimed at moving production inkjet into the mainstream of commercial and packaging printing. It was shown at drupa 2016 in an 8-inch configuration for label production, featuring what Kodak describes as a smaller drop size and precise placement accuracy for higher resolution, clean lines and additional detailed definition.

Ultrastream technology will co-exist in the market along with Stream Technology to offer different platform options. Ultrastream’s writing system includes a modular print head that can be implemented in varying widths ranging from eight inches up to 97 inches suit different applications. Kodak explains it produces 600 x 1,800-dpi resolution at speeds of up to 150 meters per minute (500 feet per minute) on a variety of paper and plastic substrates.

Ultrastream technology, with a planned launch for early 2017, will co-exist in the market along with Stream Technology to offer different platform options.
CCL Industries Inc., headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, reached an agreement to acquire the UK-based Innovia Group of companies – consisting of three divisions noted as Films, Security and Systems – for approximately $1.13 billion. The transaction – involving a consortium of private equity investors managed by The Smithfield Group LLP – is expected to close by the end of CCL’s first quarter 2017.

“This transaction is another transformative acquisition for CCL, propelling the Company to world leadership in the disruptive, fast growing polymer banknote market while strengthening our depth in the materials science arena with proprietary BOPP films technology for the label, packaging and security sectors,” said Geoffrey Martin, President and Chief Executive Officer of CCL. Martin continued to explain the Innovia acquisition is to be propelled by the company’s end-use facing businesses in CCL Label, CCL Design, Checkpoint and Avery.

“CCL’s 2017 pro-forma annual sales are forecast to exceed $5.0 billion post close,” said Martin. “The transaction will be financed from existing capacity in our revolving credit facility and a new US$450 million, two-year term loan provided by a syndicate of banks led by Bank of Montreal.”

For 2017, Innovia is expected to generate net revenue of approximately $570 million. Headquartered in Wigton in the U.K., Innovia is a global producer of multi-layer, surface-engineered BOPP films for label, packaging and security applications. The business has film extrusion, coating and metallizing facilities across the U.K., Belgium and Australia, as well as high security, specialized polymer banknote operations in the U.K., Australia and Mexico with 1,200 employees and sales offices in 16 countries around the world.
Hemlock Printers of Burnaby, BC, has created a new entity called Hemlock Harling Distribution Inc., which is described as a company dedicated to providing data-driven marketing, postal and third-party distribution services to customers throughout North America. Hemlock Harling will formally open its doors on February 1, 2017, coinciding with the acquisition of Kirk Marketing, a 60-year-old full-service print, mailing and fulfillment services company in Richmond, BC.

The venture is an equal partnership between Hemlock Printers and Harling Direct, a marketing-support company providing postal services and fulfillment from facilities in Montreal, QC, and Toronto, ON.

Operating from Kirk’s existing 40,000 square foot facility, Hemlock Harling will bring together a team of 40 staff members, who, in addition to serving its established customer base, will also support Hemlock Printers and Harling Direct clients – significantly expanding the capabilities of both partner organizations.

“We are very excited to launch this new company with our partners at Harling Direct. The management and distribution of our printed materials is fast becoming an integral part of our business, requiring a high level of expertise,” said Richard Kouwenhoven, President and COO, Hemlock. “Hemlock Harling will enable us to greatly expand this service area and will help us meet the changing needs of our customers in the years ahead.”

Harling’s President, Randy Yates, added: “Harling has been actively looking to the Western Canadian Market to offer customers complete distribution coverage from coast to coast, and when the opportunity arose to partner with an established company like Hemlock Printers, we didn’t hesitate.

Harling is not new to this type of business venture, having successfully partnered with the PDI Group of Montreal since 2007,” continued Yates. “Our mutual clients have benefitted from a powerful integration of print, mail, warehousing and distribution services which is a model we are looking forward to growing in the West. Our acquisition of Kirk Marketing provides an ideal springboard for this new venture.”

Gordon Taschuk, President and CEO of Kirk Marketing, is to become General Manager of the new Hemlock Harling operation. “I’m looking forward [to] working with two of the most respected companies in the industry, leveraging our combined strength to the benefit of our customers and staff,” said Taschuk.

Founded in 1968, Hemlock Printers is today seen as the largest full-service commercial printing company in Western Canada. Hemlock’s production facilities in Burnaby operate 100 percent carbon neutral and the company has sales offices in Victoria, Seattle and San Francisco.

Founded in 1959, Harling specializes in direct mail and third party fulfillment logistics. It provides services in both of Canada’s official languages, preparing distributions to destinations across North America and internationally.

Frank Romano, Professor Emeritus at the Rochester Institute of Technology and well-known printing pundit based on more than 40 years of industry analysis, on December 2 provided a keynote speech at the Digital Imaging Association’s annual holiday luncheon, held on Toronto’s waterfront at The Boulevard Club. The title of Romano’s DIA keynote, Digital Printing, From Good Enough to Nanography, describes one of the most-pressing issues facing printers as they prepare to make investment decisions around the commercial-printing possibilities of inkjet technologies.

Romano spent an hour providing the crowd of some 100 people with his insights on the evolution of printing technologies, beginning with his take on the industry’s historical transitions into offset, toner and wide-format inkjet. The last 20 minutes of his speech then focused on both the opportunities and challenges facing further adoption of digital printing, with an emphasis on production-strength inkjet printing, ending with his perspective on Landa Digital’s Nanography-branded presses.

Discussing the challenges facing further adoption of digital-printing technologies, particularly inkjet, Romano points to three primary issues. First, he explains, is the continuing, misguided marketing of technology developers that promote digital-printing growth via page volume. “The way they measure the output from these machines is page impressions. If you reduce everything to just a page, you have denigrated it – you have insulted it – because a page has no value,” says Romano. “When the page is in a brochure it has value. When a page is in a book it has value… They are not pages, they are parts of a product and that product has value. And if we keep making that a page, we reduce the value in the product and that is an issue.”

The second primary obstacle to digital-printing growth, according to Romano, is the absurd number of sheet sizes needed to accommodate unique imaging formats on most every single digital press – both historic installations and new systems coming to market. “Let’s get rid of all of these stupid sizes. We cannot deal with every different sheet size you can imagine,” says Romano. “I’m sorry, the paper companies are not going to support you – they can’t anymore. They do not have the resources. They do not even have the warehouse space.”

Romano then walked the crowd through a third significant challenge facing the further adoption of digital and inkjet presses: “The problem is that the majority of these machines are CMYK and yet we all know that we have to handle brand colours – Pantone colours… That is one of the reasons why Indigo sells so well. HP has done a very good job because of the fact that you can match almost every Pantone colour, every brand colour. That is why they are so dominant in the label market.”

Romano continues to explain flexography remains so vital in the packaging world because of the ability to invest in 6, 8, 10-unit presses on which just about any brand colour can be dropped into the machine. He notes, however, that inkjet presses today can print on just about any polymer or plastic. “It is just a matter of time, but the problem is without the brand colours they are not going to get into the packaging market… And, by the way, telling me you can do 80 percent of the Pantone colours with CMYK does not hit it. Sorry, but that is not an argument.”

After visiting drupa 2016, Romano notes the incredible range of production inkjet systems entering the market and their ability to print on most any substrate. He uses the growth in wide-format inkjet as an example of this ever-expanding application range, primarily leveraging mature UV technologies. "The next generation is going to print on new kinds of substrates. It is going to go way beyond paper... The home decor market, make the pattern of your sofa match your wall paper, if you so desire. Make your windows look like Tiffany glass. You can do that now very easily with wide-format inkjet."

Romano envisions a strong future in the use of UV inking on production-strength systems, particularly with water-based UV inkjet technologies as opposed to oil-based UV. “I think the next big movement has to be water-based UV,” he says. “UV is really a key system because it can print on almost anything. It is impervious to the weather. That is going to be a key technology.”

The use of water-based inking systems ties directly into the potential of Landa Digital’s Nanography-branded printing systems, which Romano does not view as standard inkjet presses, despite their use of print heads, because they jet liquid toner. Landa’s unique consumable is water based and evaporates in the imaging process to provide vibrant colours with a very low ink coating relative to existing inkjet systems.

“A lot is going to change when Landa actually starts shipping… When that machine comes out there are several things about it that are unique,” says Romano. “You look at what [Benny Landa] is doing with that ink, it is going to change the world. The question is, will he make the machine affordable.”

Without singling out Landa Digital, Romano continues to point to the challenge printers face given the high costs of production inkjet systems in the market today. “The thing that bothers me more than anything else is that we are a capital-intensive business and these machines are not cheap anymore,” he says. “[Technology suppliers] figure we all have money and yet that is one of my issues – we don’t. If you could get the machine at a reasonable price, we could then build a business and buy more machines, and buy more consumables… But right now I think they have priced them a little bit too high.”

Toronto-based Prinova Corp. reached an agreement that will see its flagship Messagepoint customer message management platform become a key component of the RR Donnelley Digital Solutions offering. RR Donnelley has more than 52,000 customers and 42,000 employees across 28 countries.

RR Donnelley has been providing the Messagepoint solution to its customers as part of their custom communications solutions for more than five years and, as a result of its ongoing success with Messagepoint, the world’s largest printing operation will now further integrate the product into its RRDigital offering.

The RRDigital solution set supports what the printing operation describes as omni-channel strategy to allow its customers to create digital relationships with their members and consumers – aiming to reduce costs, ensure compliance and increase consumer satisfaction. “We are excited to continue to broaden our global partnership with RR Donnelley, and for our Messagepoint platform to be an important part of their omni-channel messaging strategy,” said Nick Romano, CEO of Prinova. “Messagepoint provides RR Donnelley’s customers access to an award-winning, highly collaborative hybrid-cloud based solution to solve their customer communications requirements and improve the overall customer experience.”

By offering Messagepoint, RR Donnelley enables customers to deliver personalized, targeted messaging and content across multiple channels without IT involvement. The technology allows customers make near real-time adjustments in message content to dramatically improve the effectiveness and impact of communications. Prinova explains, for example, one customer reduced the cycle time for changes from three months to two days – inclusive of compliance and management approvals. The newly enhanced capability of a real-time environment further increases this value.  

“Messagepoint has been a significant addition to the RRD Business Communication Services suite of collaborative tools, enabling our client’s business users to create, manage, and deliver personalized messages and content across all of their distribution channels for several years,” said Tim Reedy, Senior Vice President at RR Donnelley. “We look forward to providing even more functionality through the Messagepoint customer message management software, in conjunction with our RRDigital solutions, as we continue to add value to the mission critical communications we produce.”
Cimpress N.V., with its largest printing and production facility in Windsor, ON, entered into a definitive agreement to acquire National Pen Co. LLC, a major manufacturer and marketer of custom writing instruments. The move adds mass customization capabilities to what Cimpress describes an important segment of the market for small business marketing products.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cimpress will acquire 100 percent of the outstanding equity interests of National Pen for a purchase price of approximately US$218 million ($286.5 million Canadian). Consideration at closing for the transaction will be in cash, using Cimpress' existing credit facility. Based on Cimpress estimates made during due diligence, National Pen's revenue is expected to be approximately US$275 million ($361 million Canadian )in calendar year 2016.

“Just like business cards, custom pens are a simple yet highly effective way for small business owners to market their companies,” said Robert Keane, CEO of Cimpress. “National Pen has tremendous mass customization and related supply chain capabilities with which they deliver an unrivaled breadth and depth of customizable writing instruments with low minimum order quantities that meet the low-volume needs of small businesses.”

National Pen is to complement the organic investment Cimpress has already made in its technology and supply chain capabilities for promotional products, apparel and gifts (PPAG) offerings. Cimpress explains it has made significant investments to reduce the minimum order quantity required for custom promotional products and business apparel. These have automated many of the graphic processing steps of the value chain so as to reduce per-order setup costs and developed more intuitive self-service, browser-based design tools.
 
“National Pen is a clear leader in one of the key promotional product segments and has excellent manufacturing and supply chain capabilities, which we do not have today,” said Keane. “By combining the company's capabilities and expertise with those of Cimpress, we are confident we can help to grow both National Pen and the promotional products offering of our existing portfolio of brands.”
 
Keane continued to explain National Pen has meaningful scale-based sourcing and production advantages, as well as strong competencies in direct marketing, telesales and data analytics. As part of Cimpress, National Pen will continue to go to market as it does today, through its primary sales channel which is a combination of direct mail and telesales. Additionally, Cimpress expects further develop National Pen’s e-commerce presence and to introduce the National Pen product range into its Vistaprint and Upload and Print e-commerce brands.
 
Founded in 1966, National Pen provides personalized marketing solutions to more than one million small- and medium-sized businesses globally. The company is headquartered in San Diego, California, with additional locations in the United States, Mexico, Ireland, and France.

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