I thought I would share with you guys....
The month of April has started with three of the biggest announcements to hit the screenprinting industry since .....silk? All kidding aside, the story was even covered in the Wall Street Journal, but I have yet to hear anything from the industry trade magazines, so I guess this month Shop Talk needs to put on a reporter’s hat and give you the news. It is not good.
2008 has been rough. The industry has been reeling from unfair competition from cheap labor offshore print shops on the textile side of the squeegee, and many graphics printers have been faced with losing customers and work to digital printers. This latest series of announcements, coming from Washington, New York, Europe and China simultaneously on the first day of the month, could possibly mean both the death AND funeral of screenprinting in North America. Industry pundits have predicted this day would come for years. It may have finally arrived.
Bad news for Textile Printers
The first bad news was a report released by a special sub-committee of Congress who have apparently been secretly negotiating with their counterparts in the other G8 nations for the last year. In a last ditch effort to stop the flow of jobs and work from North American screenprinting shops going to low cost printers in Asia, it was announced, effective immediately, that all textile printing orders on white or black t-shirts would be transferred unilaterally to shops in England, France , and Germany, and produced on higher speed European presses. All other colored shirts and all sports uniforms except soccer would be done in the USA.
As of press time I was unable to contact either SGIA or FESPA for their reaction, but local printers did report flying squads of government inspectors arriving and seizing shirts of the wrong color, and issuing credit slips for the merchandise. Details are bit fuzzy on how it will all work, but the government say it is the only way American and Canadian t-shirt printers will be able to stay in business and compete in a world market. According to the experts, the economies of scale realized by centralizing shirt printing based on color would bring production costs down to the point where labor as a percentage of total cost becomes meaningless. All transactions and inquiries relating to shirt exchanges and scheduling of printing will be handled on the official web site www.shirtswap.gov.org
Worse news for the Graphic and POP sectors of Industry
The same morning, an unprecedented joint announcement from 7 of the biggest advertising agencies in the world, (reprepresenting almost 87% of the consumer products manufactured and sold in the United States) rocked screenprinters and other graphic trades from coast to coast.
“Speaking on behalf of most of the major Madison Avenue ad agencies, as of today, we are pleased to announce all major brands under our control will be phasing out traditional point of purchase displays and instore and exterior two and three dimensional advertising using screenprinting or other printing processes,” said Robert Le Petomane, speaking on behalf of Amalgomedia.com, a consortium of major advertising agencies.
“A part of our ongoing mission is to find and use the most efficient technologies available to help our clients sell their products,” Petomane continued. “To demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and our partners in the electronics industry, we will be replacing traditional print and other obsolete methods of communication with Sale-O-Vision(r mark), our patented new communications technology. Everything in every major store, every aisle sign, every shelf talker, every pole sign is going to be replaced by the end of 2008 with Sale-O-Vision (r mark) flat screen digital display units, which broadcast all images and information from our central hub here in New York. Print is dead.”
Petomane’s announcement came just minutes after the decree from Washington and the International Trade Panel that has left many textile printers scratching their heads with idle presses and lots of questions.
“This stinks!” said one shop owner.
Trouble comes in Threes
I guess the third blow I received that day was more personal, but I think the prospect of the disappearance of squeegee material worldwide might be of interest to some of you people? Here’s what happened to me, you decide what you are going to do.
I always order replacement blades on the first of the month. This month, when I phoned my supplier, a well known long time industry insider, he ‘suggested’ I buy up all the rubber I could afford, because he had heard on very good authority, which was confirmed by a few more calls, that immediately after the 31st day of March 2008, the production of squeegees would stop worldwide. Apparently a few of the raw materials common to every squeegee and only grown in Brazil, Thailand, and Kenya, had been hit by a mysterious fungus. The manufacturers were scrambling but there were going to be big shortages before anything returned to normal.
It’s a day like this that makes all screenprinters want to roll over and go back to sleep! All People, Read Inbetween the Lines. Forget Opinions Or Lies Spoken toDAY.