Download Free Mark-up Practices Report

Just a brief reminder that you can still download a FREE copy of  NPRC’s popular 2017 Hourly Rates & Mark-up Practices Report.  This “Free Download” offer expires July 18th and will not be repeated. Published in the summer of 2017, this special report  offers an in-depth view of budgeted hour rates and mark-up practices in the quick and small format printing industry.

This offer is simply our way of saying thanks to owners like yourself who have supported our industry research efforts during the past 25+ years. We appreciate your support and encourage your continued participation.

This study reviews hourly rates for hand labor, graphic services and more than ten bindery operations – operations such as padding, laminating, 3-hole drilling and hand collating. Use this study to update and revise your computerized estimating programs.

The Hourly Rates Report analyzes average and median mark-up percentages applied by owners when paper costs $100, $250, $500, $1,000 and $2,500.

To download this useful report, click here or the adjoining artwork.

After you’ve downloaded this FREE Report, take a view minutes to visit the NPRC Bookstore where you will find a half dozen or more studies dealing with Mailing Services, Digital Printing, Wages & Benefits and Pricing Practices for Signs & Large Format.

Special Coupons Available – The following coupons are available when purchasing the following studies: (Note the coupons below expire July 18th!)

  • 2018 -19 Signs & Wide Format Pricing StudyNPRCSIGNS18 (18% Discount)
  • 2019 Printing Industry Wage & Benefits StudyNPRCWAGES14 (14%  Discount)
  • 2020-21 Mailing Services Pricing StudyNPRCMAILING16 (16 % Discount)

Shocking – Printers Report April Sales Down 44%!

Early, preliminary results from NPRC’s newest survey, Covid-19 “Take #2,” are in and the results are nothing short of shocking!

Although approximately 81% of printers who responded told us they are back to “close to normal” in terms of actually being open for business, the financial picture is far more grim.

Below are just a few of the stats we’ve been able to gather so far. Please note that the percentages displayed are tentative and subject to change in the next few days.

The Check is in the Mail & other Stats…

  • According to survey respondents so far, approximately 29% of all employees in the printing industry are currently furloughed.
  • April 2020 sales compared to April 2019 sales are down a whopping -54%!
  • Second Qtr. 2020 sales compared to the same quarter in 2019 are down -44%.
  • Six month 2020 sales compared to 2019 sales are projected down -33%.
  • Digital color copy volume is reported to be down -48%.
  • 60% of all respondents (Survey launched May 6 at approx. 9:30 a.m.) report they have not yet received their $1,200 stimulus check.

Click here to participate in our survey:

We encourage all readers of this post to take our Covid-19 Survey. The deadline for participating is May 12th. All participants will receive a special link that will allow them to download a complete report of our survey.

Corona Virus Factoid Sheet

There’s a lot of misinformation going around and the last thing we want to do is contribute to that misinformation. Nonetheless, we received the following, second hand, from an immunologist at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore. I wish we could supply the name but we could not find it, and the reason we can’t is probably due to the fact that JH is probably a bit sensitive as to papers like this being published with or even without attribution. That said, I found it very informative and educational – John Stewart.

From an immunologist at Johns Hopkins University…

Feeling confused as to why the Coronavirus is a bigger deal than Seasonal flu?  Here it is in a nutshell. I hope this helps.  Feel free to share this with others who don’t understand… It has to do with RNA sequencing….  I.e. genetics.

Seasonal flu is an “all human virus”.  The DNA/RNA chains that make up the virus are recognized by the human immune system.  This means that your body has some immunity to it before it comes around each year…  you get immunity two ways…through exposure to a virus, or by getting a flu shot.

Novel viruses, come from ANIMALS….the WHO (World Health Organization) tracks novel viruses in animals, (sometimes for years watching for mutations). Usually these viruses only transfer from animal to animal (pigs in the case of H1N1) (birds in the case of the Spanish flu).  But once one of these animal viruses mutates, and starts to transfer from animals to humans… then it’s a problem. Why? Because we have no natural or acquired immunity. The RNA sequencing of the genes inside the virus isn’t human, and the human immune system doesn’t recognize it so, we can’t fight it off.

Now sometimes, the mutation only allows transfer from animal to human. For years it’s only transmission is from an infected animal to a human, before it finally mutates so that it can now transfer human to human. Once that happens, we have a new contagion phase.  And depending on the fashion of this new mutation, that’s what decides how contagious, or how deadly it’s gonna be.

H1N1 was deadly, but it did not mutate in a way that was as deadly as the Spanish flu.    It’s RNA was slower to mutate and it attacked its host differently too. Fast  forward.

Now, here comes this Coronavirus… it existed in animals only, for nobody knows how long…but one day, at an animal market, in Wuhan China in December 2019, it mutated and made the jump from ANIMAL TO PEOPLE.  At first, only animals could give it to a person… But here is the scary part…. in just TWO WEEKS it mutated AGAIN and gained the ability to jump from human to human.   Scientists call this quick ability, “slippery”

This Coronavirus, not being in any form a “human” virus (whereas we would all have some natural or acquired immunity), took off like a rocket!! And this was because humans have no known immunity…doctors have no known medicines for it.

And it just so happens that this particular mutated animal virus, changed itself in such a way that it causes great damage to human lungs.

That’s why Coronavirus is different from seasonal flu, or H1N1 or any other type of influenza….  this one is slippery AF.   And it’s a lung eater…And, it’s already mutated AGAIN, so that we now have two strains to deal with, strain s, and strain L….which makes it twice as hard to develop a vaccine.

We really have no tools in our shed, with this.  History has shown that fast and immediate closings of public places has helped in the past pandemics. Philadelphia and Baltimore were reluctant to close events in 1918 and they were the hardest hit in the US during the Spanish Flu.

Factoid:  Henry VIII stayed in his room and allowed no one near him, till the Black Plague passed…(honestly…I understand him so much better now). Just like us, he had no tools in his shed, except social isolation…

And the author concludes – And let me end by saying….right now it’s hitting older folks harder… but this genome is so slippery…if it mutates again (and it will). Who is to say, what it will do next.

Be smart folks…  acting like you’re unafraid is so not sexy right now, and frankly stupid and selfish. Stay home folks…  and share this to those that just are not catching on.


Florida Printer Praises Mailing Study

NPRC has hit the mark again!”, says Bob Heid, owner of We Are Kymera, Orlando, FL.  “We are very appreciative of NPRC’s tireless efforts to get these studies right and on time,” adds Heid.

“We’ve been in the print and mail business for 15 years, and have always relied on client feedback and market knowledge to help us set prices. It’s nice to see these corroborated by other businesses similar to ours on a regional and even national basis. Thanks again NPRC.”

Heid is one of many printers and mailers who have praised NPRC’s latest industry study, the 2020-2021 Mailing Services Pricing Study. This brand new, 100+ page study is packed with average and median prices for dozens and dozens of popular mailing products and services, including:

Full-Service IMb Charges
De-duping Fees
NCOA Processing Fees
Laser Letter Merging Fees
Markup Rates for Brokered Lists
Inkjet Addressing Fees
Insertion Charges for #10, 6×9″ and 9×12″ Envelopes
Metering Charges
Hand & Machine Application of Stamps
Self-Mailer Processing Fees
Plus, many, many other services & Products.

Click here to download the complete Table of Contents for this just-released study.

Printers Praise New Digital Pricing Study

Below are just a few of the printers who have praised the value of our latest industry report, “The 2019-2020 Digital Color Pricing Study.”  You’ll find the very latest info on pricing digital products and services when you dive into this new study. Many printers have admitted that after studying the report, they were either over-charging or under-charging for products such as envelopes, rack cards, newsletters and carbonless forms.

The new Digital Pricing Study is quickly earning its reputation as a “must-have” study for firms relying more and more on digital printing as a major source for their income.  NPRC’s newest report features the very latest info on pricing more than 16 digital products. Visit our Bookstore for further information about this brand new report.

I was undercharging on envelopes…

“I always enjoy receiving the pricing studies and I learn something every time.  I have been doing printing for over 45 years and still learn how to price things better.  Through the Sweet Sixteen pricing study, I learned I was undercharging on envelopes (which surprised me) so this will more than pay for the cost of the membership and Pricing Study.”

Wayne Clark, Graphics North Printing
Fairbanks, AK

Keep up the good work…

“John, thank you for all your work in providing the printing industry with the “Sweet Sixteen” Digital Color Pricing Study, and the many other studies you have published for us for so many years. It always helps to know where we are at and not to leave money on the table. Keep up the good work.”

Arie Teomi, Lasting Impression Direct
Cleveland, OH

Knowing our prices are reasonable…

“I always look forward to receiving your reports, particularly the pricing studies. They’re my best source of data to be sure our prices are within a reasonable range, and the best confidence-builder I’ve found against buyers who say our prices are too high. Knowing our prices are reasonable means I look for better prospects, rather than caving on prices.”

Steve Blatman, Ink Spot Printing & Copy Center, Inc.
Frazer, PA

Confidence that our prices are fair…

“Your studies have been a big help in keeping me in business for more than 28 years. I have used the industry pricing studies over the years to make sure our prices are competitive and adjust where necessary. This gives our customer service representatives confidence that our prices are fair and reasonable. I cannot understand why many more print shop owners do not take advantage of these valuable studies, especially when they can get them for free with just a little effort.”

Mike Geygan, Minuteman Press
Lebanon, OH

The study gives us information… to stay in business…

“I want to thank you for including my firm in your annual pricing study. Even though my company is extremely small, the study gives us information necessary to stay in business. Unlike the bigger companies, which can try random pricing strategies, we need to only use fact-based strategies which the pricing study provides each year.”

Ralph Dunavant, American Printing & Promotions
Manassas, VA

This information has helped me be sharper in our pricing…

“I have been participating in your surveys for more than 20 years. As I look back over those years, I realize that I have referred to your surveys more than any other source of pricing information in the printing industry. It is concise, accurate and timely. I would have to say that this info has helped me be sharper in our pricing, win more bids and make more money. Thanks so much for your efforts.!”

Jon Robson, Auburn Document Centre
Auburn, NY

A fantastic job well done…

“John, thank you again for a fantastic job well done. We eagerly await each of your studies, as they are crammed full of helpful insights, sage advice, and of course ‘real-world’ data and pricing information. Your studies start to pay for themselves from the first page!”

James Jepsen, General Manager
Local Copies Etc., Santa Maria, CA




Spouse’s Salary Not Part of Profits!

We’ve talked about this before but it is worth repeating. There is a big difference between what a couple takes out of a business in terms of salaries and other benefits and what is or would be considered profits. Remember, when it comes to valuing the worth of a business, a typical real-world valuation relies upon calculating what is called excess earnings or profits., not necessarily what a husband and wife might take out of the business – those are really two different animals.

A quick example is in order. First, let’s assume Ajax Printing & Signs does $450,000 per year in sales. Bob and Karen, the owners of Ajax Printing, each withdraw $40,000 in salary and benefits each year. They employ one full time employee and one part timer. Their calculated sales per employee (SPE) is a relatively healthy $128,500.

In recent years Ajax has been reporting an average pretax profit of $25,000. When Bob sits down to arrive at the value of his business, he estimates the total profit for his company is approximately $105,000 based upon combining the two salaries and then adding to that number the “corporate/company profit” of $25,000.

Unfortunately, that’s not how a valuation works, not even a simplified one! Even assuming that the salaries being paid to both Bob and Karen are perfectly reasonable based upon their contributions and expertise, you cannot count or include the salaries and benefits paid to both of you when calculating profits or excess earnings – the latter being the fundamental calculation in determining the value of a business.

“Unfortunately, that’s not how it works out. Even assuming that the salaries being paid to both Bob and Karen are perfectly reasonable based upon their contributions and expertise, you cannot count or include the salaries and benefits paid to both of you when calculating profits or excess earnings – the latter being the fundamental calculation in determining the value of a business.”

Why? Because while it is assumed that a new owner would would take over Bob’s duties and responsibilities, he certainly could not perform the duties of Karen as well. She would have to be replaced. Like most buyers who purchase a company run by a husband and wife team, the buyer has to replace both spouses when he or she purchases the business. The new owner will almost certainly be required to hire and train an individual to assume Karen’s responsibilities! Karen’s $40,000, for the purposes of a valuation, is considered nothing more than one more salary or business expense required to operate the business, and when Karen leaves she must be replaced.

What if Karen is really only working part time and could be replaced by someone at a much lower salary? If that’s the case then indeed the excess salary previously paid to Karen would indeed be included in calculating excess earnings & profits.  Calculating true “excess earnings,” the actual amount a business generates after covering all of its real-world expenses, is one of the most involved calculations we perform in arriving at company valuations.

By the way, just to clarify and avoid being called a sexist, the names, duties and responsibilities of Bob and Karen could readily be switched and reversed in the above discussion. Bob could be working for Karen and we have no intention or desire to imply who works for who in this situation. Note a similar article detailing what is paid to a spouse and how it impacts valuations appears elsewhere in this blog.

NPRC Releases New Digital Pricing Study

NPRC has just released its latest research report, the 2019-2020 “Sweet Sixteen” Digital Color Pricing Study! The new report, packed with the very latest pricing info, and including literally hundreds of average and median prices, is now available for immediate shipment. The new study covers more than a dozen of the industry’s most popular products and services in the digital printing arena.

The 90+ page study offers an up-to-the-minute look at what printers are charging for services such as flyers & catalog sheets, postcards, rack cards, carbonless forms, newsletters and digitally printed envelopes, just to name a few. Click here to view the entire table of contents.

Each page in this brand new study is packed with pricing info you can use to cross-check your own pricing against printers around the country.

Most products and services included in this study include average and median pricing, a 10% high and low extraction, plus pricing based on a per unit basis such as pricing per sheet, per click, per envelope and even pricing per carbonless set. This feature makes it easier than ever for readers to obtain pricing for unusual quantities or quantities simply not covered in the report.

Due to on-going concerns regarding copyright violations, this study and possibly future NPRC studies, will no longer be made available as a PDF. Instead, we will only provide “hard” copies. Most orders are processed same day as received and are shipped out via USPS Priority Mail.

Available for sale beginning July 18, 2019.
Retail Price Only $245. Hard copies only!
Click below to visit the NPRC Bookstore for more details.



Who Pays the Tariffs?

The Myths About Tariffs?

Recently, we got curious about the real story behind tariffs and who actually pays them and who really benefits. President Trump is a fan of tariffs and implies that we (the U.S.) are going to rake in billions of $$$ with the new 25% tariffs being imposed on China as of midnight, May 9, 2019.

As we conducted some very brief research on the web, I uncovered some very interesting stuff that really opened my eyes.

Do Countries Pay Tariffs?

First, governments or countries don’t pay tariffs on the products they export or import. Second, it is the importers of products that pay the tariffs and ultimately those tariffs, or the bulk of them, are paid by the consumer! 

The Idiot we have for President doesn’t seem to understand… Speaking at a rally in Florida later Wednesday (May 8, 2019), Trump said the new tariffs were because China “broke the deal.” “You see the tariffs we’re doing?” the President asked his supporters. “Because they broke the deal!” 
“The vice premier is flying in tomorrow, good man, but they broke the deal. They can’t do that,” he added. “If we don’t make the deal, nothing wrong with taking in over 100 billion a year. We never did that before.”  << The idiot president talks like a 3rd grader, and seems to be implying that is good news… what he fails to mention is it will be Americans who will be paying those “100 billion a year.”
May 13, 2019 – “President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that American consumers would bear a burden from the escalating trade war with China, contradicting the President.” Of course President Trump will quickly call this “Fake News” as he identifies any news that he doesn’t like. 

An Example of Applying a Tariff

Let’s keep it simple, and assume Costco decides to purchase $100,000 worth of TVs from Sharp TV in China.

Let’s continue to keep it simply and assume new tariff on Chinese TVs is 25%. The product is shipped by Sharp and arrives in LA. Customs and Border Patrol inspects shipment and scans code for the TVs. (Note that every single product large or small imported into U.S. has a special import code). CBP calculates the amount owed ($25,000) and sends an invoice to the specific importer, or in this case Costco. Costco has 10 days to pay invoice.

Now Costco has a number of options: (1) They could have talked to Sharp prior to placing their order and arranged for some type of discount or rebate from Sharp to help them offset some of the new tariff; (2) They could eat the entire cost of the new tariff and accept lower profits, but of course that would impact their investors; (3) They could pass on the new tariff costs, or at least some of those costs, by increasing the price to their customers; (4) they can cut-back on purchases from China/Sharp and go instead to another TV manufacturer in another country not subject to the new tariffs.

They could also use a combination of the above.

Citizens Pay Tariffs

However, in almost all cases, governments  simply don’t pay tariffs, the citizens of the country importing the goods pay the tariffs. President Trump brags about the billions of additional $$$ that will be raised and deposited into the U.S. coffers, but he fails to point out that it is U.S. citizens who will be paying those tariffs, not China nor its citizens as he often seems to imply. 

Yes, it surely gets a bit more complicated, but when Trump brags about collecting billions more from tariffs,  he is really unintentionally bragging about sticking it to millions of American citizens who will end up paying these new tariffs. Donald Trump doesn’t really understand tariffs, but then again he doesn’t understand many things! 

What’s Your Net Worth?

Net worth is considered by many financial experts as the ultimate number that you need to track regarding personal finances. Net worth is the total $$$ remaining if you sold/liquidated everything you own and paid off all of your debts. Tracking your net worth over time will put you on the road to financial independence or retirement… Or, maybe not!

How do you calculate your net worth?

To calculate net worth, add up the value of every single one of your assets. That would include the value of your home(s), your cars, all checking and savings accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, your business, and everything else that could be liquidated. When it comes to valuing your business, you should have a detailed, logical method for justifying that valuation, just as you would when justifying the value of your home – i.e. comparables, recent sales, appraisales.

Next, subtract the sum of all of your debts. This would include all real estate mortgages, credit card debts, notes payable (personal), loans, as well as all other personal obligations and liabilities.

The resulting total is your net worth. With that net worth in hand, examine the graph below and compare yourself against other American households as depicted on the accompanying graph. (Editorial note: Nothing lends itself more towards creating and updating your personal net worth on a periodic basis than an Excel Spreadsheet. Keep it on your desktop and revise as needed.)

Other notes regarding net worth…*

Note that the top 1% represents roughly 1,259,817 households in the U.S. 

What about the top .1% (one tenth of one percent) in terms of net worth? There are approximately 125,981 households in the U.S. that would fall or qualify for the top one-tenth of one percent (.1%)  in terms of net worth, and they would have a net worth of at least $43,090,281 or greater.

* Data extracted from an article by DQYDJ (Don’t Quit Your Day Job) at


Benchmarking Study Table of Contents

Check out the Table of Contents of the just-released 2019-2020 Financial Benchmarking Study.  This study is packed with down-to-earth comparative P&L analyses comparing firms based upon annual sales, profitability, sales per employee as well as percent of brokering, offset and digital printing. The study even compares franchise vs. independent performance.

Click the link above or the artwork to view Table of Contents