May 09, 2019
Last year we had issues with paper, as mills continued to close and there was a paper shortage throughout the industry. Having a good financial relationship with our paper mills and also forecasting and increasing our paper inventory/warehousing, helped Friesens stay ahead of this issue and make it through relatively unscratched.
And, this year, we have now seen an unprecedented demand for increased printing capacity, particularly in the 1c web arena. This is due to 3 of our main web competitors closing their doors in the past 2 years (Edwards Bros Malloy and now Thomson Shore). So, there is more work out in the industry than capacity available. This being said, Friesens has taken a different approach than many of our competitors who are buying old equipment and plants. We made the decision to make internal investment over the past 5 years and we have invested in new technology and equipment (2 new presses, 2 new binding lines, Jet varnish machine, etc) and we have seen that pay off greatly having some of our best most profitable years to date.
Also, we have made a creative investment in labor the past few years, by working with the Phillippino government to bring qualified workers over to Canada to work at Friesens and be part of the community in Altona. We have seen this pay off in both combating our labor issues, but also in expanding and growing the small community in Altona and creating a new cultural experience of growth and acceptance.
In turn, the decisions to invest in new equipment and in people has been a winning solution and has helped Friesens stay financially secure and profitable in a volatile time in the industry.
All this being said, we have run into a bypass with our web division and we do not have any web press time available for the months of August and Sept 2019. This means we are booked in the 1c work for those months. We can preschedule those months prior and after for 1c web as needed and we are still offering our normal schedules on 4 color, 2 color and digital work in both paperback and case-bound. We can actually get a 4 color case-bound job up much sooner than a 1 color paperback, this is the impact of losing strong competitors that specialized in the 1c web work.
Lastly, I want to recommend as this article does as well, that you preschedule your jobs as far in advance with us as possible. Prescheduling is the key to getting the press time you need and securing all materials.
This is the way the market is moving now, it may change next year, but this year it is all about prescheduling your work. This being said, we still only need files 4 weeks prior to ship date, the production time hasn’t changed, we still provide a competitive schedule, we just have to consider capacity available moving forward.