If your head is spinning as you watch the ongoing parade of mergers in the paper industry, you’re not alone.

We’ve been keeping a close eye on things as the marriage of Verso and NewPage hit the headlines — a deal so big it prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to order the sale of Verso’s Rumford, Maine mill to Catalyst Paper Corp. in order to settle antitrust concerns.

Earlier, the Unisource-International Paper deal that created Veritiv captured an equal amount of attention, as did the merger between MeadWestvaco and RockTenn.

Chris Joyaux, American Litho’s paper industry expert, tells us that paper prices have been surprisingly stable during this period of consolidation. But he points out that the seasonal discounts we used to see at key times of the year have all but disappeared, adding that it’s hard to tell if we’ve seen the full effects of the various mergers yet.

The net-net? We’re hoping for continued stability, but we’re ready for volatility.

Rolls of Paper StockSince paper accounts for 30% to 40% of the total costs for all print jobs we handle, we make it our responsibility to monitor the markets and prepare for price hikes and supply chain disruptions, which can have major negative impact on your packaging, merchandising and direct marketing programs.

Here is the 3-point strategy we recommend to all American Litho clients in good times and bad. Applying these principles consistently can lead to substantial cost savings.

1. Practice wise paper management.

Chris Joyaux managing paper supplyMany of the national brands we work with have their own paper management programs in place. Others rely on us to help them forecast paper needs and, where appropriate, lock in prices with major suppliers, arranging for just-in-time delivery as jobs hit the presses.

Of course, there are times it’s better to buy as you go. For example, Chris points out that stockpiling the standard offset goods that typically go into production of school supplies might not make sense if you’re launching a 6-month campaign in summer when demand and prices are highest. Better to buy what’s needed for the first few months and then reevaluate in early fall when prices may return to normal.

2. Watch your waste.

Evaluating print jobs for maximum press efficiency is absolutely key. American Litho’s secret weapon in this area is our format optimization team, who will analyze your project to identify improvements that can save paper and press time. And since paper savings can also mean weight and postage savings, this service is one that direct marketers and many others rely on to keep their costs in line.

3. Take advantage of in-house stocks.

IMG_3137American Litho’s partnerships with major mills enable us to keep many high-quality web stocks on hand at our plant in Carol Stream, Illinois. Thanks to our new sheeting capabilities, we can cut roll goods to size for sheet-fed production – a flexible approach that has already proven helpful to many top brands.

Searching for paper alternatives when it makes sense and recommending cost-saving changes while your job is still in the planning stages can save thousands of dollars. We’re all about doing things better, faster and with greater impact.

If you’re worried about paper costs for any upcoming project, get in touch with us. Working with Chris and the ALitho staff, we’ll help you find the solutions you need.

frank-and-sam_smSam Dentino and Frank Arostegui are American Litho’s dynamic duo of direct marketing, bringing more than 40 years of combined experience to their roles. They work with the full ALitho team to serve clients in retail, financial services, insurance, consumer goods manufacturing, non-profit development and many other fields.

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