The discomfort that has dogged everyone in business since the recession began to turn upward hasn't gone away, but sometimes it gets shouldered aside by a heady feeling that means things are no longer dismal. Companies are starting to add people to the work force. Always a good sign. They have resumed buying equipment, the large kind that requires a substantial investment. Another positive indicator. They are expanding their work spaces. And customers are buying labels again. Not that they ever stopped, but this is no longer 2009.
Lots of news: shopping for talent, shopping for machinery and square footage. Here's the big one: shopping for other companies. Consolidation has resumed with alacrity, in case anyone hadn't noticed. Here's a partial list of deals among converters:
July 2010: Kennedy Group buys Florida Marking Products
October: MPI Label acquires ROI Printing
December: Cenveo acquires Gilbreth Packaging Systems
January 2011: Repacorp buys Aladdin Label
February: Clondalkin buys Catalent's Printed Components
March: Kroger Packaging buys General Trade Mark Labelcraft
April (a busy month): Smyth acquires Dow Industries; CCL acquires Thunder Press; Hooven-Dayton buys Benchmark Graphics, and Brook & Whittle acquires Packstar Group.
Most significantly, Multi-Color Corporation has been on a global feast. From September 2010 through May of this year, the Cincinnati-based converter has bought two converting operations in France, two in Italy, one in Chile, one in Argentina, and won approval from Chinese authorities to build in that nation. Most of these acquisitions have something to do with wine labels. Some years back Multi-Color bought Collotype, an Australian powerhouse with strong roots in the wine labeling sector, and last year the former president of Collotype became president of Multi-Color.
These are only the deals among converters. On the vendor side we have RotoMetrics acquiring Gerhardt, FLEXcon buying Arlon businesses, and Transilwrap buying Interfilm Holdings.
Stories to tell. And stories that get hinted at but not spoken aloud outside the conference room. Here's one: Everyone in the printing business who is not in the packaging sector would really love to be in packaging. They are out there trying to find ways in. After all, they're listening to the stories that you are telling, and they are wishful.