Friday, December 16, 2011

Tis the Season for Giving

I think everyone has heard the saying, “It’s better to give than receive.”  Did you know the origin of that saying is from the Bible, Acts 20:35 (King James Version) and it reads “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Well, Old Trail Printing not only believes in giving back to the community but we actually practice what we preach.  Recently we printed a calendar for Cap City Creatives to help promote local artists.  I would like to share the press release from Cap City Creatives.

                                                       FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Columbus, OH – December 14, 2011 – Cap City Creatives has published its inaugural artists’ 2012 calendar with help from local printer Old Trail Printing and is offering it free to local art lovers.
Back in early summer 2011 Whitney Works – the founder of the artists group Cap City Creatives and her fellow member Hanif Abdurraqib played around with the idea of promoting a 2012 calendar featuring local artists within their 20+ member strong group. However, the printing costs involved put the idea on the back burner. 
Eventually another group member, Darrell White started to pitch the idea to local printers to see if they would help with the costs. Most said “no” but then Jeff Lampert – Director of Marketing for Old Trail Printing - agreed to present the idea to others at Old Trail Printing.
In the end, the team at Old Trail Printing (including Jeff Lampert, Natalie Burwell – Account Executive and Mike Held – principal at OTP) agreed to cover the printing costs free of charge to the artist group. The end result was over a thousand calendars printed for the relatively new artists group to offer free to the public just in time for the Short North’s gallery hop.
“It really was a collaborative effort” says White, “Dale Ziemianski, a digital artist, did the cover design,  Donna Estep, a pop artist, and Molly Durst, a Graphic Designer both worked very hard to create the internal design.” The result is a very unique calendar with art from painters to poems to even… soap.
White later added “Without Jeff and his team, [at OTP] I’m not sure how we would’ve made this happen.”
 The complimentary calendars are currently being offered at various locations throughout the Short North including Travonna Coffee House - 1195 N. High Street Columbus, Ohio 43201.
Cap City Creatives is a dynamic group of visual artists, musicians, photographers, performers, designers, and art enthusiasts from all over the Columbus area that meet up to network, promote local artistic talent and plan collaborative art events. For more information please visit:
Old Trail Printing - Founded in 1928, OTP is one of the largest woman owned printers in the Midwest. OTP is a leading creative and graphics solutions provider offering creative, printing, binding, mailing, kit packing and distribution solutions.  Old Trail Printing is a qualified G7 Master Digital and Offset Print Solutions Provider headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.  For more information please visit our website:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Written by Jeff Lampert, Director of Marketing and Business Development
“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other”

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

So much art! So much talent! The paper project comes to an end.

The Paper Project has come to an end- the children have used the paper and created some extraordinary crafts.  There were hats, ornaments, signs and holiday pictures.  The students got really creative and the products are amazing.  And without further ado, the winner of the additional $250 gift card is...

Licking Valley Local Schools!

Teachers Kristin Dennis and Kellie Caplin asked their students to create fall-themed projects in the style of Juan Miro and Jackson Pollock.  These two teachers help close to 900 students, from kindergarden to 5th grade, express their inner creativity with funds raised just as creatively.  Old Trail Printing couldn't be more proud of every single student and teacher who participated in the paper project- the overwhelming gratitude for such a basic need like paper supports Old Trail's original reason for donating it in the first place.  So many schools have seen their art budgets slashed over the past few years that even just their basic needs go unmet.  Old Trail Printing is just so happy to be able to give even just a little back.

The paper project means even more to me, as an art student.  I have studied how art has progressed since the beginning of time and a part of my goal in life is to foster young artists; to give them the opportunity to be creative in any way possible.  This project was organized with the goal of helping local kids find a different outlet for their energy. With all the budget cuts, it's no wonder why children these days go home and play video games.  They cant play sports without paying an arm and a leg for "pay to play" and the proper equipment.  They cant make art because there are no supplies.  It is safer to have them go home, do homework and sit inside the rest of the evening.  Granted, this is not always the case, but isn't it our duty to help improve the lives of everyone in our community?  I think so.  My family thinks so.  Old Trail Printing thinks so.  We hope that this project inspires creativity in these children, directing their energy towards something that can help them be better citizens in the future.  By creating art in school now they are actually learning how to think outside the box later in life when the tasks are more business-driven.  Also, Old Trail hopes that some of these students continue to pursue the arts and after college come back to work for companies just like us, keeping print current and competitive with possibly more popular or trendy forms of marketing.

I could go on and on in circles about how happy I am that this project was a success and how I cannot wait to do it again next year, but that would just bore you to death.  Instead, take a look at some of the images of the winning school's projects and think about how you can improve your community.


Written by Julianne Kaercher, Social Media/Marketing Consultant
"The cultivation of a hobby and new forms of interest is a policy of first importance to a public man"
-Winston Churchill

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Happens in Vegas Does Not Necessarily HAVE To Stay In Vegas!!!

Wendy’s held their franchisee convention in Las Vegas last week and Dave Held, Lori Mitchell and I were there!  It was a great opportunity to meet so many franchisees face-to-face from across the country.  I’m proud to say, Old Trail Printing was honored by Wendy’s Corporate as a 35-year partner.  We have been printing, kitting and fulfilling their training materials for decades.
On Monday morning, Wendy’s new CEO, Emil Brolick, gave one of the most inspiring presentations I have ever witnessed.  He literally had 3000 people in that room riveted in their seats.  I quote from USA Today, “Emil is fed up with the No. 3 burger chain being portrayed as the fallen star of the fast-food industry.”  It was so interesting to hear about his plans to once again make Wendy’s an industry innovator.  Emil is a big believer in the importance of leadership in an organization and he believes his leadership can make a difference.  Again, I quote, “A leader has to bring a vision to an organization, because an organization works best when you have an end in mind.  Vision is great, but if you don’t have strategies, people get frustrated quickly.  A leader has to define reality and give hope.”  Hold on, stop the presses…did I hear him say “have an end in mind!”  Why, that is Habit #2 of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin With The End In Mind.”  Covey says, “If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default.”  After spending time listening, observing and interacting at the Wendy’s convention, I am confident Wendy’s will once again rise to the top!
At Trojan Litho in Seattle around 1998, the management team was trained on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I found Covey’s 7 Habits useful in not only my business career, but personal life as well.  How many times have all of us wanted to drive our point home so badly to someone we are talking to without listening first?  I try to remember Habit 5, “Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood.”  If we as managers practiced this habit regularly, I’ll bet we would have more effective relationships with our employees.  I got to thinking after Emil’s presentation: would the owners at Old Trail Printing be open to learning more about Covey’s 7 Habits?  If they are, would they practice what they learn?  Well, I have ordered 5 of Covey’s books from Amazon and am preparing our management team for training.  I have 2 simple goals for this program:  Create an environment where our management team communicates more effectively with each other and give our management team the tools and knowledge to communicate more effectively with our employees.  I hope to have this training completed before the end of the year.  I am very fortunate our ownership gives me the freedom to take time to “work on the business” as compared to always “working in the business.”  I believe this is the way you move companies successfully into the future.
Circling back to Emil Brolick’s presentation, when he finished, all 3,000 people stood up and gave him a standing ovation that seemed to last forever.  What an inspiration not only to his employees, but the rest of us who were fortunate to be there.  If you are interested in reading USA Today’s interview with Emil, go to:

Written by Jeff Lampert, Director of Marketing and Business Development
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Is printing’s online presence dying? With such a rush to “go social“, the industry news fails to keep us interested.

If you haven’t noticed, our Twitter feed has been unusually slow.  Now, this is not for a lack of effort.  In fact, it feels like I am trying even harder than before to find interesting news about the print industry and get the information out to our followers before it becomes either irrelevant or redundant.  When I think about the reasons why it feels so much more difficult now than before, I keep coming back to the same excuse.  Well, it is not an excuse, but I suppose whenever I see something not being done, I call the reasons behind the inaction an excuse.  But anyway… the reason it is harder to keep our social media sites constantly streaming and buzzing with current topics and news is that I am no longer doing “the social media thing” full time.  In fact, I am doing a completely different job now and we all thought it would be fine to drop to an hour or two a day for Old Trail Printing’s social media “maintenance” since all the sites are up and running.  How other companies can do this, I do not know!

So, you would think that setting aside an hour or two within each day to search and read articles, other social media feeds, etc. would be an easy thing to integrate into someone’s work life, right?  No- it is actually harder to ask someone to squeeze in another task when they already have a full day.  And it is not like the world of social media waits- if you don’t have time today you cannot just get to it tomorrow.  There is new information, new technologies, new everything out on the web and so the cycle starts over; you can’t post tomorrow what you found online today.  So, this leads us to the question: how do you do it? If your company cannot afford a full time social media assistant, or does not have an internship program in place, how do you stay relevant with your online presence?  I know there are tools and dashboards out there that are supposed to help you manage RSS streams and schedule your posts, but it still does not do the research for you to the point where social media is an easy thing to fit into your schedule.  Easier, yes.  Easy, no. 

Now, I think Old Trail Printing, along with the other print companies who are embracing the world of social media, are at an even bigger disadvantage than other companies.  Why?  Because we are print.  This means that there are a limited amount of legitimate and credible sources online to get your information from- and that means we are all competing to see who can translate that information to our followers first and in an interesting way.  Sure, there might be an article here or there in newspapers and magazines that are great to pass along, but not always.  This means we have to decide if it is worth a few minutes of our precious time to actively seek out random publications and hope to find information to share.  Wouldn’t it be easier to just wait for someone else to find it, share it then ride their time-invested coattails?  Well, that just isn’t the point, is it?  So, will it ever get easier?  Probably not.  In fact, with the internet changing daily, I am sure it will become even harder to stay relevant unless you can devote your entire day to it… but maybe one of these changes will involve micro-chipping and newsfeed contact lenses or something “futuristic”.  But, I digress.  In keeping with the challenge of social media and print, I have also found that it is not just our Twitter and Facebook feeds that have slowed, it is the diversity of topics in general that has slowed.

I remember when I first started looking at all the online websites for print, media, marketing, etc. everything was new and interesting.  Great- there was a lot to share and so many topics to cover.  However, as time wore on, I noticed the topics all stayed the same and were just being presented with a different title or with one “new” piece of information that did not necessarily affect anything.  I started to grow frustrated, which is part of why I decided that dropping the amount of time I invested in Old Trail Printing’s social media maintenance was going to have little effect on our feeds.  I mean, how many times can you read about the debate between PSP, MSP, OSP or any other type of “service provider”?  Or how many times do you need to be told that “going green” is what printers need to be doing and all the ways to do that, especially if you are already, in fact, green?  So when everyone in the printing industry says, “things change so fast”… do they?  I mean, yes, the technology behind the printing changes fast- very fast, but what else is actually changing?  The need for print fluctuates with the economy- this is usually a constant.  Print has integrated with the internet to create very effective multi-channel campaigns… ok, so that is kind of the end of that discussion.  We have all participated in the “what do we call ourselves” discussion and, frankly, I am blue in the face from it.  These are just a few examples of how the “trending topics” in print are, well, dead.  Yes, new experts and anyone with a computer can put their opinion out there (clearly, we are), but is it changing the discussion; is it progressing?  I guess my question is: What is next?  I am bored with the topics and bored with searching for topics.  How can the printers who want to be out there, online and active, maintain that level of involvement without the time, budget and conversation to fuel it all?

Written by Julianne Kaercher, Social Media Consultant

"Creativity is the result of boredom if you are inspired enough to make the change."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Graph Expo, 2011

Being a first time attendee to Graph-Expo, I cannot compare the quantity and display size of the 2011 show to those in years past. What I can muse on is the focus of the vendors and the apparent direction of the industry.

As technology becomes an ever more important component of the print/publishing industry, the complexity and variability of the print process becomes more challenging and important. The ability to customize print runs with not only variable text and images but with variable die cuts, page sizes becomes more critical.

The increasing connectivity between each piece of equipment in the production workflow is a major source of investment, complexity and a future source of cost reduction. Being able to have unskilled laborers run equipment that a few years ago required highly skilled trades people is the future of the industry.

Just as computers in the 60s, 70’s and even 80’s were manned by individuals or teams, with expensive educations and high level knowledge, gave way to computers that were in nearly every home and office, the print production workflow looks to be heading in the direction of a smaller, commodity workforce that runs a growing array of equipment without needing high level skills.

The quantity of long, static print runs on large multi-million dollar presses is dwindling down. The future of printing, just like that of all other media, is moving to smaller quantities of highly customized pieces that target an individual or group with a laser like focus on a message that the recipient will respond to.

All of the customization is driven by raw data, the names and preferences of thousands and millions of individuals that marketers and business covet. The future of print will rely more and more on the efficient collection, storage and manipulation of that data, for it is that data that makes a printed piece worth printing.

Print, unlike other media such as TV, Radio, Email, Social Media, etc, has the ability to reach someone without the need for an intervening device such as a TV set, radio, or computer. When someone has a printed piece in their hands they are directly holding the message, they have a tactile connection with the sender and what message the sender is trying to convey.

As I walked through Graph-Expo 2011, one thing stuck out in my mind, the future of print rests on the ability of developers, manufacturers and production houses to create a personal, tangible connection to the person that will consume the final printed piece.

Written by Tom Horn, Production Manager and Jeff Williams, Director of IT

"The importance of new technology is not classified by how advanced the knowledge is, it is dependent upon its accessibility to you and your needs at this very moment."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Some Mental Food for Thought

Yes, we prefer to post internally written blogs, however, we will be writing about Graph Expo next Thursday and did not want to leave you waiting for a blog this week.  The bi-weekly posts by Old Trail Printing staff will resume next week, but until then please enjoy these two thought-provoking items that we enjoyed:

How's The View From Your Parking Spot?
by Mark Henson, chief imagination officer, sparkspace

Most people drive to work every day, park their car, grab their briefcase, start walking to their office, all while simultaneously firing up their smartphone to check email, voicemail, or facebook. If they're really on the ball, they'll take a quick glance to see if they parked on level 4, or near a lightpole, or in the orange section, so they can hopefully find their vehicle when the workday is done.

Humans will fight to the death for the closest parking spot to the building or exit or elevator. I've seen people wait six minutes for someone to pull out of a spot because it's more convenient to their destination, while others zoom around them, park their car, get to the office, and gulp down their first cup of coffee in the same amount of time. Convenience is relative, I guess.

Think about where you parked today. What's the view from your parking spot? Do you remember? Did you notice? Is it anything like this:


I can almost guarantee your parking spot didn't have a view like this. Know how I know this? Because my car was the only car on the roof this morning.

I park in the parking garage across from our building, and every day I park on the roof. I've done this for years. Whenever I have to park in a parking garage, I'll go straight to the top. Yes, I even do it when the garage is not full. It's not out of habit, either. I do it intentionally every single time. Here's why:

1. You can't beat the view. Where else in any city can you be several floors off the ground without a roof over your head? There is something inspiring and energizing about being that close to the sky...especially when the sun is out and the sky is bright blue. And you don't just get the view once. You get it twice! Once when you're arriving, and once when you're leaving.

Two of the best views of Columbus, Ohio, are from the roofs of two different hospital parking garages here in town: 1. The OSU Hospital parking garage has a view of the skyline that seems to rise magically from a city full of trees. 2. The Nationwide Children's Hospital parking garage features a view that makes you realize how exciting and vibrant Columbus really is.

2. I get more for my money. Most parking garages charge you, right? What are you buying? A tiny space in a dark, damp, dirty garage OR a space with an amazing view and a free dose of Vitamin D (a.k.a. sunshine)? 

3. There is always room at the top. This is true of life in general. Very few people travel the few extra minutes, make the little bit of extra effort that takes them to the top. Yes, I spend probably 5 minutes more each day to get up and down from the roof. But I NEVER have to hunt for a spot. And did I mention the view?

4. I never forget where I parked...ever. Enough said.

5. I get extra (much needed) exercise. I don't always take the stairs, but I often do. Going up eight stories of stairs is probably all the workout you ever need. Even going down eight stories of stairs is good exercise. And it's cheaper than a gym. If you take the stairs on your way into work, your brain gets extra oxygen to start the day. How cool is that?

6. It reminds me to take in the great moments of life more often. There's something really exciting to me when I pull out of the dark garage and onto the bright, open rooftop. It transforms my attitude. I use it as a daily reminder that there are so many amazing moments in life and at work and I need to pay more attention to them. When I'm totally preoccupied with productivity, efficiency, profit, busyness, paperwork, email, and the gazillion other things that take my attention every moment of every day, I generally feel like crap at the end of the day. 

But if I take a few extra moments here and there to appreciate the great work of a teammate, to realize how lucky I am to have the job I have, to actually enjoy my work, or to notice something super cool like the view from the top of the parking garage, I find myself much more happy and content at the end of the day.

I've actually toyed with the idea of throwing a folding table, a chair and a patio umbrella in my car and setting up a temporary office on the roof of the garage on really nice days. Don't laugh. I'm serious.

Right about now, you're coming up with excuses why you don't park on the roof.

- "It's a waste of time to drive the extra floors."
- "I'll have to wait in a long line to get out."
- "I don't trust the elevators in parking garages."
- "My car will get hot in the sun."
- "It's too far to walk and my foot hurts."

Wah, wah, wah. The truth is, it takes a tiny bit of extra effort that most people just won't take, even though the payoff is sooooo worth it. But then again, that's why there's always room at the top.

So, where are you going to park tomorrow?

Thanks for reading! See you next week.

Like this article? Get more at

From Canvas Magazine's Canvas Notes- September 6, 2011: "No Doubt"

Last week, our company had the opportunity to support a local football team, Stephenson High School, and help raise money for their program.  Specifically, we created a game day program for the lower income school that was playing Parkview, a perennial powerhouse from a much more affluent area.  As we walked into the game, which was played in a small college stadium, it was explicitly clear which side was which.  

We watched the game, with every intention of leaving at halftime so I could get my daughter to bed at a decent hour.  However, I noticed that the Stephenson group was not selling the programs to the best of their ability.  I even heard three cheerleaders, who were charged with selling, say something like “OMG, nobody’s going to buy a program”.
I took my salesperson over to the booster lead.  I said, “Has anyone tried to sell programs on the Parkview side?  Their roster is inside and I am sure they might give us a couple of bucks for that.”  She looked at me quizzically and started to chuckle.  She called her friends over and said something like “This fella here thinks he can sell our programs on the Parkview side?”  They seemed to have difficulty catching their breath from laughing so hard.  One woman said to me “Nobody will buy a program from you over there.”  She was still laughing when she added, “And I’m not letting you in here when you come back with your tail between your legs!”

Game on!  I took my daughter by the hand, grabbed a stack of programs and we made our way to the other side.  When I got there, I received more resistance and sarcasm.  However, they let me in for 10 minutes to try and sell Stephenson programs to the Parkview faithfuls.  Ten minutes later, I was out of programs and my daughter was holding a wad of cash.

I had carved my way through the stands, holding the programs high in the air and enthusiastically letting everyone know that this was what they needed at this time.  Their roster was in the program and they could now identify the kids by jersey number.  Interestingly enough, when one fan bought a program, another one jumped on the bandwagon.  The dominos fell and suddenly I was the one laughing.

When I returned to the Stephenson side, I couldn’t help but strut my way back to the booster table.  With their jaws on the ground, I threw down the wad of cash and repeatedly said “Never doubt me”.  They gave me and my daughter big hugs and wanted to know how I did it.  I simply stated that “Enthusiasm and confidence come from a belief in your product and yourself.

Anyone who doesn’t want to hold up their product high in the air and claim that it is the best--- will fail.  The greatest salespeople and the greatest brands in the world, take the time to tell everyone about how much they believe in their offering.  They are constantly selling or advertising their wares because they know you cannot be bashful about something you believe in.  If you don’t scream it at the mountaintops, then you simply don’t believe in what you have to offer.  That is the truth and never doubt me!

Warmest Regards,
Mark Potter

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why Is An Aging Workforce Such A Frightening Concept?

This is a topic that I have heard thrown cautiously around the workplace from time to time... not just at Old Trail Printing, but ever since I started working (a whopping 11 years ago now). I heard it mentioned as a server in restaurants, as an intern for the state, as a customer service rep for a credit card company and now, as a marketing assistant at a printing company. So what is all the sensitive whispering about? Why does it seem that the term “aging workforce” is 1) a necessary politically correct term for people nearing the age of retirement, 2) something we should be whispering about and 3) something we should fear? Is it like global warming- an intangible thing that people want to do something about and either never do or we think that if we ignore it enough and only whisper about it it wont gain enough momentum to destroy our existence, our industry?

An aging workforce should not be something anyone in management should fear unless they are not confident in their employee's abilities to learn and evolve- an issue that should have been a key factor in their original hiring anyway. Specifically from the viewpoint of someone in a trade-focused industry: printing, I can understand and even rationalize the slight hint of panic that shows up on the faces of those in management when I asked about this topic. The printing industry used to be a very popular field to go into, back in the 70s and 80s. Now, high schools students are barely even aware of what printing companies are, let alone what they do. If asked, I would assume that over 90% of high school students would say FedEx Kinkos or The UPS Store are “printing companies”. This means there is a huge, unnerving lack of education in our school systems. They are no longer directed at teaching students about specific trades- jobs that NEED to be filled to keep basic life “givens” functioning, like electricity, printing, heat, etc. Instead, students are driven by standard testing scores and then by undergraduate admission acceptances.

Looking back at my high school experience, I cannot recall a single opportunity to focus on “a trade” rather than “an education”. I was only aware of the printing industry because my family owns a company. There was no mention of it, unless you were perhaps on the yearbook committee, but even then I don't think they “learned about printing”.

Realizing this, even I become a bit unnerved for the future the printing industry, and it really has nothing to do with me. Yes I am invested in the general success of my family and their endeavors, but I have no stake in the company... so why should I be uneasy? Why do I now feel like I, too, should whisper about the topic and fear it? Is it because I don't have confidence in the employees at Old Trail Printing to adapt and embrace the new technological changes rapidly taking over the way we work? No- not at all! They are skilled, educated, and adaptable. Actually, we have multiple employees who have made this transition successfully. Both the company and the employee have benefitted greatly from their willingness to learn. So what is it? I think it is because I am the youngest person here, at the ripe age of 27, and there are no resumes flooding our mailbox. I am curious if other trade-centered companies are experiencing the same effect.

So, we have identified the problem: young adults are unaware of the opportunity, they are under-educated about them, and the industry workforce is getting older. Now, what to do about it? Well, about four years ago there was an article written on this exact topic by Frank Romano for WhatTheyThink. He cited sources and information that was staggering- approximately 40,000 graphic design majors with 3,500 graduating annually and jobs for about 7 of them. WOW! These numbers, all of them, have obviously increased as technology and the internet have taken off and become very much a necessity in everyone's jobs and lives. However, I do not think I would be at fault by saying that there are still not enough jobs for all of these graduates... or are there?

A recent discussion with our plant manager opened my eyes a bit. He went to view and test a new machine that is revolutionizing the way printers score and die cut jobs. Usually my eyes gloss over during a conversation like this- I mean, I understand it but it has no relevance to myself personally... I don't create, let alone score and cut jobs. But as he explained how the machine works, I realized, well, we both realized, that a new kind of employee is needed for this job. The software used is a graphic-based application and therefore a person able to learn graphic design or already educated in graphic design would be ideal- they can calibrate the machine to run more efficiently. For example, our manager used the machine by going step by step and inputting the information given to him. It took 59 seconds for the machine to cut and score one sheet. When calibrated by a graphic-trained operator, the same job took 37 seconds to finish one sheet- that is a 22 second difference. That is HUGE! Think of how more efficient and quickly jobs can be completed with that difference. Think of the profit potential, the potential to increase the number of jobs the company can take on. Now THAT is staggering!

So, perhaps we should be looking to recruit these graphic artists. This machine is not the first, nor the last, that is run off a graphic-based application. Graphic artists are no longer needed just to design a job, they are needed to run the machines now too. In the article, Frank begs that the larger companies within the industry, and the organizations that support the industry foster and fund education for printers, not graphic designers. Four years later, I beg to differ- does Frank? I don't know, but I think the whole situation and crisis needs to be re-evaluated. Yes the printing industry as a whole has lost educational momentum, but if we can get graphic art courses to incorporate printing as a small part of their curriculum, then maybe, just maybe more young professionals will start looking to the industry for post-graduation employment, as designers and pressmen. If this happens, we could find ourselves saying, “What aging workforce?”

Written by Julianne Kaercher, Social Media/Marketing Assistant

“Don't underestimate me because of my age- you have no idea what I can do.”

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Can they really sell it for that???

This seems to be a conversation I am having with our sales team on a fairly regular basis these days. As the economy gets tight and companies slash their marketing budgets, printers all across the country begin to cut their prices to keep the presses running. Well, not all printers, but we have seen a number of our competitors submit what I would consider ridiculously low bids.

A few months ago we decided to take a run at the government printing office. We only bid on work that fit our capabilities well and were totally blown out of the water. I’m not talking by 10 or 20 percent but by 30 and 40 percent!! We have another client that went to the reverse auction purchasing model. We watch jobs during the auction that would normally sell for $20,000 go for half that! What do these printers know that we don’t? Maybe they don’t pay a sales commission on that work…neither do we. Maybe they are substituting a cheaper stock or paying pressman bare minimum wages? What’s their secret?

We know our pricing is competitive with the market because our loyal customers tell us so every day. We provide the value our customers require with regards to high quality service and printed products. We don't short-change our customers or our pressmen. Our management team has made sure that we stay on the forefront with our technology offerings that help our customers save on both hard and soft costs. So I ask again... how can these other companies offer such cheap services?

There is one competitor here in Columbus that has been selling at well below market levels for some time now. The problem with this is that it is trashing the market. In my view, it is unfair to the market for setting artificially low pricing levels in the short term. It’s even more unfair to the employees of that company because there is a good chance they won’t be around in a year or two. How many examples of this have we seen in Columbus and around the country? Wake up!!! Profit is not a bad thing! Profit gives us the ability to invest in our business so we can continue to provide our customers with the newest technology and services. It allows us to grow internally as well as externally, an important opportunity in this ever-changing industry. With the industry in such a transitional time and approaching an uncertain future, shouldn't companies be trying to secure consistent and sustainable income? I would think. The only way to do this is by providing consistent and fair pricing. Doing only one or the other, or worse, neither, will only result in your company closing its doors.

To all the companies who are, knowingly or not, doing this, all I have to say is that there is plenty of work to go around. Be confident in your company and the relationships you currently have. When calling on new prospects, you’ll have far more credibility if your pricing is in the range of your competition. Sell value not price!!!

Written by Jeff Lampert, Director of Marketing and Business Development

“If you aim low, you only end up shooting yourself in the foot.”

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What's in a name? That which we call a company by any other name can be just as successful, right?

An interesting discussion popped up on a LinkedIn group a few days ago: “What do you think of the moniker “Marketing Services Provider” to describe printing companies?” I thought, sure, this will be an interesting discussion. I read through it, taking notes along the way since Old Trail Printing is, like most printers, considering making the jump from PSP to MSP. I then opened the Printing Industries of America's July edition of The Magazine. Guess what one of the articles was about. That's right- “The Transition from PSP to a C-MMSP Takes Hold”. Ok, so clearly this is an important transition that is happening, and NOW. There were two more blogs from May I remembered reading concerning the same topic and pulled them out of my archived article list for review. A trend began to emerge... one that altered the way I felt about the term “Marketing Service Provider” and also my thoughts on the transition of becoming one. The term “Marketing Service Provider” is 1) an industry term 2) undefined and 3) controversial. These three characteristics combine to create one interesting “problem” for those of us considering calling ourselves MSPs. And the problem is just that: whether or not we should and should want to call ourselves MSPs.

Let's address each issue individually:

1) MSP is an industry term. One point raised by Chuck Gehman in the LinkedIn discussion is that “No CUSTOMER ever says, 'I need a marketing service provider to help me with...'.” He also explains that this is the biggest problem printers have when considering the transition from PSP to MSP. This is true. Customers of printers would not say something like that; only printers would think in those terms. Customers might say, “I need a printer who can offer assistance with a trans-media campaign.” Why, then, is the term MSP being thrown around like it is a part of everyday conversations? It is not- I had only heard it once or twice before I entered the printing industry, and only in passing, concerning the printing industry...

Now, the question is: what do customers call MSPs? Is there a different term that they use within the marketing departments of retail companies, hospitals, small businesses, b2b businesses and b2c businesses, etc? Shouldn't printers making the transition to trans-media services be gearing their re-branding towards their customers and what they would recognize rather than a term primarily known, but still undefined, within the industry?

This takes us to problem number...

2) MSP is an undefined qualification. Obviously a definition does exist for “marketing service provider”, however, with a changing industry, definitions are altered and adjusted to fit what we are doing rather than creating unique terms to define our capabilities and services. One term I really like, which I used earlier and is from Gehman, is “trans-media service provider”. This seems to better cover the possibilities of services printers are beginning to offer. Yes, most services are marketing-focused, but the ability to offer marketing services across a wide variety of outlets is what printers are beginning to do... not just provide marketing services. There is an additional dimension to MSP that is being left out, causing the definition to be insufficient and altered to the point of causing serious confusion and disagreement... essentially causing...

3) Controversy. I don't mean people are going crazy over the topic and actually fighting, but based on the amount of group discussions occurring and magazine features and blogs written about the topic, I would say that this has a lot more than a few people riled up and anxious to “defend” their decision to call themselves MSPs. The fact that there is even such a debate going on makes it clear that the term is faulty in even more ways than addressed here. Obviously the industry is aware of the need to grow and eager to get advice on how to do it, successfully, but it seems it is the industry itself that is divided, or at least confused, on the “direction” it has chosen. I am sure the inventor of the term “hamburger” was hesitant at first, given the burger was made from beef, not a pig, but it clearly worked out. If the title, or in this case, the moniker, does not fit the job then failure is imminent- not to say there are not plenty of companies out there who have been successful at making the transition under the “MSP” moniker- but the wrong term alone can cause failure (think about the Ugli fruit- do you really want to buy it).

So, clearly there are hits and misses out there. Personally, I think “MSP” might be more of a miss than a hit when it comes to describing where the printing industry is going as far as services and capabilities. What I say, which can be taken at a dime's worth, is that printing companies stop trying to fit into a pre-defined mold of “where they should be” as far as services offered, etc. and adopt a unique, fluid term that describes, easily and without confusion, what their company can do. It might even prevent the closure of those companies who insist on making the transition; a simple re-identification could direct their efforts better without creating the problem of undefinable, unmeasurable successes and failures. Perhaps “Trans-Media Service Provider” will catch on... it is, after all, a rather accurate term for where we are headed.

 Written by Julianne Kaercher, Social Media/Marketing Assistant

It is always the title that is the most difficult write, but it defines the entire direction of the paper.”

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Integrating Digital with Offset Workflow Proves a Difficult Task

Trends are constantly changing and improving the printing industry and it is up to the company to be aware of these changes, integrate them into daily workflow and increase efficiency, as expected by the addition of such practices. But when does the addition of new work processes begin to hinder the business? At Old Trail Printing, we have been struggling with this line of thinking and know many other companies out there are too. No doubt about it, printers need to embrace the new digital era, and fast, but to what extent?

The major challenge at our plant has not been obtaining, training, and using digital machines. Nor has it been training employees about the use of digital information to regulate and increase work efficiency and maintain a standard of quality. The most challenging aspect of integrating the new digital side of print with the old offset side of print is actually changing our thinking and feelings about the dreaded “something new” that is digital workflow.

If all of these advances are in fact improvements, wouldn't it be assumed that everyone would want to integrate them into their daily workflow to streamline processes and make their own job easier? One would think. However, it seems that such change is met with apprehension and apathy. As education for trade and skilled jobs wanes, companies who integrate new technology into their workflow are not actively integrating a youthful employee base, causing a technology-based education gap that creates workplace unease. Even I have to admit that when it comes to the latest gadgets and online tools, I am at a loss- my daughter has to show me how to put music on my mp3 player just so I can listen to “classic music” when I work out. I am, however, willing to learn; although I am far from functioning said mp3 player with the ease that she does. Shouldn't employees be as eager to learn the latest technology so they too can independently work without asking for help?

At Old Trail Printing, training and education are available so we can help maximize workforce efficiency, but will we ever be as sure about using digital technology as someone who has grown up with a “known” digital workflow their whole life? Probably not. We can, however, change our attitude towards the future of print and work with technology rather that resist the inevitable. Who knows, we might learn something new!

In no way is this meant to be read in a negative tone- Old Trail has grown internally by leaps and bounds when it comes to integrating the two workflow processes and we couldn't be happier. These comments are reflections on the printing industry as a whole as we turn the corner into the world of digital print. Not one company could claim they are 100% fully integrated without error, or resistance. This conversation is a reality to many companies, not just printers, who rely on a fantastic group of skilled workers, but are facing the “digital wall” head on as their business continues to grow and education for these skill-based positions dies. What will these companies do when the “Baby-Boomer Generation” prepares for retirement? We have some thoughts on this... but that is a different blog.

Written by Tom Horn, Plant Production Manager

“Obstacles are things a person sees when you take your eyes off your goal”

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Old Trail Printing to Host Local Schools, Non-Profit Organizations for a Day of Giving

We think charitable giving that directly supports your community and the future of the industry is extremely important...

The Old Trail Printing Company, as a part of our continuing efforts to better the communities in which we live and work, has created the paper project to benefit Central Ohio's schools and not-for-profit organizations through the charitable donation of excess and scrap paper for use in underfunded art classes and programs. As a business that relies upon the graphic arts, Old Trail Printing is committed to helping sustain Central Ohio's arts community and do our part to encourage creativity in today's youth. By donating paper, we are providing an often overlooked, but necessary medium that children can use to produce a number of artistic creations. At Old Trail Printing we think it is extremely important to foster and encourage the talent of the future, one sheet of paper at a time.

Local schools and non-profit organizations are encouraged to come to OTP's office on Friday, August 12th to pick up paper that they can put to use in their arts programs. If you or someone you know would be interested in participating in the paper project, please visit our website, and click on “the paper project” in the lower left hand corner and fill out a paper request form. By doing this we can ensure each organization receives the necessary amount of paper and also communicate with them about this project and all future charitable events Old Trail Printing is involved with.

Also, please contact us for ways you or your company/organization can get involved in helping keep art and creativity alive in Columbus in conjunction with Old Trail Printing's the paper project or other future initiatives at

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Old Trail Printing announces re-branding, new market strategy

Press Release

Last week was an exciting one for the Marketing Team at Old Trail Printing Co., located in Columbus, OH. They officially launched their new website, along with an accompanying LinkedIn company page and Twitter account to introduce their company re-branding and new marketing strategy. This past December, Old Trail Printing hired Director of Marketing, Jeff Lampert, who is spearheading the campaign. Our [new] marketing efforts are focused on creating brand awareness and generating solid leads for our sales team. We will promote our “Green” manufacturing processes and the fact that we are a certified Woman Owned company,” explains Lampert. The new campaign will also eventually include online and direct mailers announcing the company's new logo and services, quarterly lunch-and-learns for customers and prospects, and a blog focusing on trending topics in the printing industry. According to Sue Horn, one of the principals for OTP, Jeff was brought on to contribute “fresh ideas to develop new business and to better market our company.” One of these ideas was to redesign the company logo.

Purchased by Horn's father, Bernie Held, in 1964, Old Trail Printing created a logo that embodied the character of its location on “the old trail” when it was established in 1928. Bernie designed the old carriage image when he took over and it has been a symbol of the company's early beginnings ever since. This past week, the new logo that portrays an image that “better represents what we do as printers and graphic artists”, explains Horn, was officially introduced through placement on Old Trail's letterhead, signage and throughout their online identity. Horn says the change of not only the company logo, but its overall marketing strategy was an important one to make because Old Trail Printing is “continuously educating ourselves on the latest technologies and techniques” to stay on track with or ahead of the newest trends and requirements in the printing business. The company purchased a Kodak NexPress in 2010 to provide customers multiple, state-of-the-art digital printing options.

According to Lampert, “This is an exciting time at our company. We have a solid base of customers and we are committed to bringing more value to them. We listen carefully to what they are telling us and respond with a solution that exceeds their expectations.” In addition to connecting with these already established, long-time customers through their new campaign initiatives, Old Trail Printing increased their brand power by attending the Columbus Chamber of Commerce's Business-to-Business Expo held Wednesday, June 8th. “Exhibiting at events like this is one more component of our marketing strategy. Old Trail Printing has a great story to tell and we enjoy meeting new businesses and having a conversation about how we can contribute to their own success,” explains Lampert. The company plans on continuing to increase their brand power and customer base through strategic initiatives involving print and online media, printing industry conferences and local social events.

One thing about Old Trail Printing that has not changed in the 47 years that it has been owned by the Held family is its commitment to the community of Central Ohio. Michael Held, another principal at the company and Horn's brother, explains, “Our family believes that if you take care of the community you live and work in, it will take care of you.” OTP is in the process of developing a program that will benefit local charities and schools by donating excess and scrap paper to organizations that can use it for art classes or craft projects for kids. “This, and many other projects, are just a small part of what we do here at Old Trail to make our city a better place for our employees and our customers” says Held.

Check out Old Trail Printing's new website and services at and follow the company on Twitter (@OldTrailPrint) for new and interesting printing news information or connect with OTP's employees on LinkedIn.