As we begin 2002, we all hope for a year that is far, far better in practically all respects than 2001, a year that will be most remembered for the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil on Sept. 11 and a year-long recession.
2001 was also a difficult time for the ink industry as the printing industry suffered the effects of the economic downturn.
As we head into 2002, the economy remains a serious concern. However, there are reasons for optimism.
For one, a forecast done by the National Association of Printing Leadership (NAPL), a summary of which can be found on page 18, predicts that a “meaningful recovery” of between 3.5 to 4.7 percent is anticipated in the printing industry during the second half of 2002.
Any major economic impact can always be seen among the larger companies. However, it is among the smaller ink manufacturers where trends become clearer.
For me, our annual U.S. Ink Directory, which begins on page44,is a great opportunity to understand what is occurring in our industry. By contacting the companies on our list, we are able to better learn how the industry fared in 2001. While the general belief that the industry has declined during the past year is confirmed by anecdotal stories, the U.S. Ink Directory, the only comprehensive U.S. directory of ink companies, shows something else: that the state of the U.S. printing ink industry is stronger than it appears.
That may seem to be a surprise, but consider this: once again, the number of new ink companies far exceeds the manufacturers that have either been acquired or left the business entirely. There are a number of new companies – particularly in the ink jet field – that are trying their hand at new technologies that hold promise for the future. That is the essence of entrepreneurship.
We also see opportunities in areas such as security inks, where new ideas are shaping the way critical documents are protected. As we report on page 28, “Inks are Key to Security for Documents and Products,” the companies entering this complex field take risks, but the rewards are there for those who have the ability to succeed.
We also see that there is much opportunity for growth outside of the U.S. This month, David Wang, our Chinese correspondent, reports on ChinaCoat 2001 on page 38. Charles Thurston, who is joining Ink World as our Latin American correspondent, discusses the state of the Brazilian printing ink industry on page 42.
The world that we live in offers many challenges, yet it also has many rewards for those who wish to provide products thatemphasize excellence over adequacy, that offer innovation over imitation. That is the message that needs to be heard in all facets of our industry.
Here’s hoping for a much better 2002 for all of us!