Printing Companies Reinvent Themselves to Ride Out Recession



    TORONTO, May 25 /CNW/ - One of Canada's largest and most established
manufacturing industries is having to reinvent itself in order to avoid
extinction during a global recession. Printing companies employed 70,522
people across Canada in 2008, accounting for $10.5 billion in revenue.
    With the trend towards online increasing, however, industry experts are
saying printing companies will have to diversify to stay afloat during the
economic downturn. Last year online users in Canada rose to 84.3 per cent
compared to 67.5 per cent in 2005, according to the International
Telecommunication Union. Meanwhile Stats Canada reported a print trade deficit
of $34.6 million for the first two months of 2009, down from a surplus of $14
million the same time in 2008.
    "There's an opportunity and a threat," said Bob Elliott, president of the
Canadian Printers Industry Association. "The threat is more companies are
choosing to advertise online. At the same time printers are able to use the
Internet to increase the efficiency of their services."
    Printing companies have been delving into ancillary services such as
design and database management for years, but Elliott expects these
subordinate services to increase during the recession. Wayne Wilbur, CEO of
Astley Gilbert, a Toronto-based printing company, is heading into his third
recession with the 40-year-old company. The idea of diversifying services to
remain competitive is not foreign to Astley Gilbert, which embraced technology
in the early 90s, becoming Internet Service Providers for its clients.
    "First and foremost we are a printing company," said Wilbur. "However in
today's marketplace we know how important it is to embrace technology. Those
who don't get left behind."
    Astley Gilbert originally specialized in on-demand documents for the
construction industry, but has since developed online tools to help its
clients reduce paper volume and manage projects. The company has recently made
a significant investment in the marketing and advertising realm and provides
state-of-the-art graphic design and printing services on 100 per cent recycled
paper.
    "We believe there will always be a place for print, but it's important to
adapt to the times and the changing needs of our clients," said Wilbur.
"Diversifying has put us in a position where we're now able to acquire
printing companies that aren't able to forge through this tough economic
time."

    About Astley Gilbert

    Founded in early 1970, Astley Gilbert Limited has grown from a small
company serving the on-demand document needs of the construction industry to a
full service print and imaging solutions provider to companies across a wide
range of industries. The company expanded by adding more branches, more
equipment and more expertise, all of which are supported by a company-wide
culture that focuses on customer satisfaction and doing whatever it takes to
meet their needs. AG has the highest market share in Canada for reprographic
services, as well as, a strong and growing position for digital and offset
print solutions offering high-end brochures, variable data printing and large
format graphic displays, including outdoor signage. The company's product and
service diversity will continue to expand in both value-add print solutions as
well as non-print services. With multiple production facilities, over 55
radio-dispatched customer service vehicles in the GTA and global delivery
capabilities Astley Gilbert has become today's foremost leader in delivering
on-demand solutions, on paper and online. For more information please visit:
www.astleygilbert.com.





For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Beth Boyle, Spark Group,
Beth@sparkgroup.ca, (604) 488-4736

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