New Net Worth Survey Published!

The National Printing Research Council (NPRC) has released its latest industry survey providing a detailed analysis of the personal net worth of printers. The report was mailed 1st Class and or distributed via email to more than 120 participating firms. The report is now available for sale (hard copies only) in the NPRC Bookstore.

“Successes, regrets and advice section was priceless. I have followed many of those suggestions over the years and it has paid off.”
John Byrd, Bryd Printing Co., Norcross, GA

“I have been in the printing business for over 36 years and always wondered how I was doing compared to other print shops. With this Net Worth Study, now I know. No more guessing.” 
Dan Tiedt Sr., PIP Marketing/Signs/Print,Iowa City, Iowa

Click here to review additional testimonials provided by fellow printers. Read what they have to say about the value of this just-released report.

Retail Price… $225    
NPRC Member Price… $112.50
At the present time, this report is only available as a hard copy. No PDFs.

In the meantime, NPRC has released some preliminary statistics uncovered in the survey:

  • 24% of survey participants report a net worth between $501,000 and $1 million.
  • Average net worth of all participants is $2.2 million
  • Average 2016 sales of participants is $1.5 million
  • Approximately 62% of all owners surveyed indicated they owned their own building. It’s even higher among those with the highest net worth.
  • Estimated average value of building (if owned) is $709,000.
  • 28% of owners indicate they also own other commercial real estate.
  • Approximately 37%  of those surveyed indicated they owned other “non-commercial” real estate such as second homes, vacation cottages, etc.

The National Printing Research Council is dedicated to publishing hard-hitting, fact-based research studies and surveys that directly benefit its members. We employ a full-time executive director with extensive knowledge of the industry, and we are available 24/7 to answer questions about pricing, profitability, wages, key financial ratios, and valuation methods. And best yet, we offer those services and more for low annual dues of ONLY $240!

A special new-member bonus! Printers who join NPRC between now and March 16, 2017 will receive a FREE copy of the above-mentioned confidential report on personal net worth. This is a “first-of-its-kind” report and is sure to spark a lot of discussion in the printing industry. 

This represents data representing the net worth of the average American Household in 2013 (latest available). As you can see, as the owner of a small, closely held business the odds are in your favor of far exceeding the average net worth of most Americans.

More than 120 owners, with sales ranging from $200,000 to $7.5 million, shared highly personal data about their personal net worth and told us where and how this wealth was acquired. This report, which will retail for $295.00, is expected to be released no later than Jan. 31, 2017. No other industry trade organization gathers, analyzes and provides this type of in-depth information.

Allegra Member Praises New Study

2016-17-nprc-wage-benefit-backup_6244_image015This is what an Allegra franchisee had to say about our latest industry Wage & Benefits Study… “I like the analysis options based not only on regions, population, and size, but also on profitability. I also liked the sales representative breakout. Good work and thank you.”
Jim Elder, Allegra St Louis, St. Louis, MO

For additional information, visit the NPRC bookstore. This just released study retails for $179; NPRC members can purchase the study for only $89.50, a 50% discount off retail.

NPRC Releases Wage Study (See Graphs)

Failing to keep up with wages & benefits can easily cost a firm thousands $$$, and that’s why NPRC decided to move ahead late this fall and conduct its latest industry survey – The 2017-2018 Wage & Benefits Survey.

2017-18wagecoverThe new, just-released Wage & Benefits Study, covering 22 key positions in our industry, is packed with valuable information pertaining to wages, salaries and benefits offered by printers from across the U.S.

Like all surveys published by NPRC, firms that participated in the survey and submitted their survey form by the Oct. 31st deadline received their complimentary copy of the study on or about Nov. 30, 2016. 

You can order this study now by visiting the NPRC bookstore.  Retail Price: $179; NPRC Member Price: $89.50. All publications published by NPRC are sold on a 100% Money-Back guarantee! No questions asked!

Below are a few of the graphs included in this latest NPRC Study. 


The distribution of survey participants by reported SPE is quite similar to what has been reported in previous industry surveys and studies.


Owners were asked to provide their level of profitability. The resulting data was graphed accordingly. Approximately 45% of our respondents told us they were either “above average” or “high profit firms”.


We took the SPE data provided by respondents and ranked it from low to high; next, we divided the list of 280+ firms into four approximate quartiles or quarters and then averaged the result of each quartile. Above is the resulting data.


This chart simply illustrates the number of individual positions for which wage, salary and benefit data was provided. As an example, 125 of our responding firms provided data on the position we described as, “Sr. Graphics & Pre-Press.” Both average and median wage data is provided in this study.




Improving SPE Critical to Profits

According to new research data recently gathered by NPRC, the average SPE in the printing industry has now reached almost $140,000. Put another way, if your SPE is less than $140,000 your firm would now fall into the bottom half of the industry when compared to your peers, according to findings in the soon-to-be-released 20176-2018 Quick Printing Industry Wage & Benefits Study.

Highlighting the direct relationship between SPE and profitability, NPRC sorted the data gathered from our latest Wage & Benefits Study and found that firms reporting the highest profits (20% or higher) reported average sales per employee of $152,000, while firms reporting profitability of less than 6% reported average SPE of $104,000, or an SPE 31% lower than those at the top!

2016-17-nprc-wage-benefit-backup_6244_image017The direct relationship between SPE and Profitability “There is little doubt in my mind that there is and always has been a direct relationship between SPE and profitability in this industry. Without high SPEs it is almost impossible to achieve high levels of profitability,” notes John Stewart, NPRC Executive Director. “Owners need to quit rationalizing that they can somehow increase productivity while living with a below average SPE.” (Read more about this relationship and how you can quickly improve your SPE in upcoming articles to be posted on this NPRC website.)

NPRC is putting finishing touches on its latest Wage & Benefits Study where in you can find more detail on the findings noted above. The new research study is based upon responses from more than 180 participants and is packed with wage and salary information covering 22 of the most common positions in our industry.

Check back soon for a more detailed analysis on SPE and how you can improve it in 60 days or less!


Digital Pricing Study Receives Praise

Testimonials continue to pour in on this just-released study

“These studies are the best source of quality
industry information available.”

 “Being located far removed from a larger city containing support services for the printing industry, our company is starved for readily available local industry related resources and information.  Over the years we have found studies by John Stewart to be a welcomed, valuable resources to help us operate our business profitably.  His latest study the ‘2016-2017 Printing Industry Digital Printing Pricing Study’ has once again proven to be an extremely useful, comprehensive study providing in depth knowledge of industry pricing for digitally produced printing.  The content of this thought provoking study is a requirement for any printing company, large or small, with a goal of producing digital work profitably.”

Skip Novakovich
Esprit Graphic Communications
Kennewick, WA

“The Digital Printing Pricing Survey is the most valuable yet. The pricing info helped us identify irregularities, bringing some prices up to increase profits, and identify high prices that were likely resulting in lost business. The equipment ratings were most valuable as we prepared our transition to all digital and new equipment decisions. Your recent report on the shift to digital was instrumental in our decision to make the shift… Your information has helped us transform into an efficient, profit making machine.”

Greg Batchelor
McCabe’s Printing Group
Fairfax, VA

“I find the study very helpful. I have been too low in some areas and too high in others. It is a great study. Also learned from this group about the way to hire a shopper which was also very helpful.” 

Peggy Hoobery 
Burdine Printing 
Arroyo Grande, CA 

“The information in the 2016 Digital pricing study helps us a great deal. Most pricing is regional so we take that in stride. But is also shares new ideas and maybe services we can charge for that we left on the table. Each year we learn new items to increase profitability and give better service to our clients.”

David Adams
Quality Printing Services
Petaluma, CA 

“Hi John,
I have participated in every one of your studies for more than 15 years. For the first 20 years in business I had to guess what the rest of the industry was doing. Then I ran across your studies. In my estimation these studies are the best source of quality industry information available. Whether it be wages, pricing, industry trends etc. these studies give me valid up to date information to run my business that is available nowhere else. Please keep up the good work!”

Jon Robson
Auburn Document Centre
Auburn, NY

“I immediately raised my digital envelope prices 5%. It more than paid for the study in less than a month.”

Bob Roenfield
Edison Press
Sanford, ME


Click above to download sample pages.

Check out entry on the Home Page of this website titled “FREE Sample Pages…” where you can actually download four sample pages from this just-released study. As always, all studies sold by NPRC and/or QP Consulting, Inc. are sold on a 100% money-back guarantee!


Presidential Poll Results

For Immediate Release

Party Affiliation Does Not Correlate to Expected Presidential Outcome according to the result of our latest Presidential Preference Poll, conducted Oct. 19-20, 2016.

Melbourne, FL – With the third presidential debate mercifully behind us, we at the National Printing Research Council (NPRC) thought it might be interesting to see how this year’s tumultuous presidential race is playing out among entrepreneurial quick and small commercial printers. With that in mind, we launched a brief Survey Monkey poll of print shop owners.

image014Not surprisingly, the percent of printers polled who identified themselves as Republicans far outnumbered those saying they were Democrats. In fact, more respondents identified themselves as Independents than identified as Democrats. With nearly 200 responses tallied, the results were: Republican (59.5%), Independent (23.7%), and Democrat (15.0%). A tiny percent (1.7%) said they were something else.

When printers were asked which party’s policies they generally agreed with, the Democratic party (18.2%) edged Independent (9.9%) but Republican party policies were far and away the most popular with respondents at 66.3%.

image003This trend held when respondents were asked who they planned to vote for. Donald Trump (63.7%) far out-polled Hillary Clinton (26.3%) with Gary Johnson (8.8%) and Jill Stein (1.2%) trailing far behind. However, when asked who they expected to capture the Presidency, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein got no votes, which was not unexpected. What was somewhat unexpected was by a two-to-one margin survey respondents said they expected Hillary Clinton (66.9%) to trounce Donald Trump (33.1%).

While this poll is not scientific, it does give a snapshot of how printers are feeling as the presidential race winds to a close.


New Relationship between Sales & SPE – Seeking Your Feedback

For many years, virtually every study that I worked on that dealt with profitability and productivity strongly indicated that smaller $$$ volume firms, as a general rule, tended to be more profitable than larger $$$ volume firms, at least in terms of percentages.

As an example, 10 years ago, the top 25% of the industry (in terms of profitability) reported average sales of $961,500 and owner’s compensation of 23.3%. The SPE of this group was $125,644.

The bottom 25% in terms of profitability reported sales of $1,098,541, owner’s compensation of 4.2% and an SPE of $109,689.

Move forward to 2013 and the top 25% reported average sales of $925,849, profits of 24.6% and an SPE of $142,372.

The bottom 25% reported average sales of $1,070,548, profits of 4.81% and an SPE of $114,858.

Data Indicates Possible New Trend?

However, in a recent survey dealing with time management that we just completed, it appears that firms who classified themselves as high profit firms reported significantly higher sales and SPE than their peers who indicated they were at the bottom in terms of profits. I can’t help but wonder whether this is a fluke, or a real trend based upon various factors.

Here are the three breakouts we recently reported in our Time Management Practices article that appears as a free download on our National Printing Research Council website at (Three tables below)




Comparing Profit Leaders vs. Laggards


It was interesting to observe that out of the 207 participating firms, an almost identical number of owners described themselves as low profit as opposed to high profit firms. We appreciate the candor of the former in that their input is often just as important as what we receive from “profit leaders.”

Granted, there were only 20 participants in each of our ‘Top” and “Bottom” groupings, each representing 10% of our total respondents. Nonetheless, the data was clean with no unusual outliers that we could detect.

So the question that seems to arise is whether or not there is a good explanation for what appears to be a significant, and quickly developing trend that suggests there is a direct, though not necessarily linear, relationship between sales per employee and annual gross sales. Analyzed a bit further, we could examine two possibilities:

  •  Do highly trained & productive employees naturally facilitate and make it easier for firms to achieve higher and higher sales?
  • Do firms with higher sales naturally tend to acquire more productive equipment thus leading to higher SPEs?

The response rate was very good, and the data was exceptionally clean, so the question remains – has there been a significant turn-around, almost a reversal, in this industry whereby firms with higher profits tend to be larger firms as well.

We tend to believe that the level of sophistication and higher levels of productivity offered by a variety of digital devices (printers, copiers, creasers, collators, available software,etc.) has enabled printing firms that have upgraded their equipment to achieve levels of productivity almost unheard of just a few years ago.


We welcome your feedback and would love to publish your comments on our website. Tell us what you think about the relationship between sales per employee and the production equipment currently available. Another question – should a company struggling with relatively low levels of productivity and only modest sales take a major financial risk and upgrade to more expensive and hopefully more productive equipment? Send us your comments and feedback to:

With your permission, we will append your comments to this article. Don’t be bashful… share with us your thoughts and opinions.





Hiring Someone to Shop Competitors

(Members Only) Hiring a Professional To Conduct a Pricing Survey

Over many, many years I have, for various reasons, hired or retained an individual to conduct surveys of my competitors to determine specific pricing as well as to obtain an “outsider’s” valuation of my competitors.

As a consultant for more than 25 years, I also found myself on various occasions encouraging my clients to conduct such surveys as well. Sometimes, if for no other reason, than to dispel the owner’s sometimes misinformed ideas as to where his or her pricing stood in comparison with other printers.

As a publisher of dozens and dozens of pricing studies over the years, I have often told folks that the greatest variations in pricing in this industry occur not from one section of the country to the next or from one market to the next, but rather within individual markets. While prices for specific products might vary by 5-7% from one section of the country to the next, statistically it is not uncommon whatsoever to find prices for a specific product and quantity to vary by +/- 25-35% from the average.

Great Variations Within Individual Markets

As an example, in you take a relatively small town or city where there are 10 small format quick printing operations, and you price out a specific product such as 500 #10/24 white envelopes in black ink, you will likely find an average price of approximately $80-85. However, if you price that product out among 10 different printers in that town, you are likely to find prices ranging from $59 to $108.

You may find even lower prices and higher prices depending upon the day of the week you are shopping and who you happen to talk to at the time. Interestingly enough, the printer who may charge the highest prices for envelopes may be the lowest for matching letterheads. If you are looking for logic and consistency in pricing in this industry you’re probably looking in the wrong place!

Put simply, while I would never allow my competitor’s pricing practices to dictate my own, I also believe it is important to keep informed as to what is going on in your market area. It is also important to get a better feel about your competitors from the eye of a typical consumer or printing buyer.

Hiring a Professional Shopper

The first mistake many printers make when considering shopping their competitors is to do it on the cheap. Spend as little as money as possible and do it quickly. Well, as is often the case, you get what you pay for. If you’re going to hire someone to call and visit other printers and evaluate what they offer and what they charge you have to do it the right way!

That pretty much means going outside. You don’t want to assign this task to a CSR or graphics person or maybe someone in bindery. You probably don’t want to have your grandmother or mother-in-law tackle this either.

First, you need to set up a real world scenario for your shopper. You need to select a reasonable number of closely related products that you would like to have shopped. Ideally, these should be the types of products (and services) that you like to get yourself. Look at your existing list of key customers, and try to develop a fictionalized company that closely matches real world customers that you tend to deal with.

Establishing the Proper Scenario

Let’s imagine that you consider the healthcare field a lucrative source of business for your firm. Maybe you already print for a couple of walk-in clinics. So let’s imagine a scenario where a secretary is sent out by a team of doctors who are considering opening up a new walk-in clinic and they are going to quickly need six specific items….

  • 500, 1M and 2.5M 2-sided, 4C 4 x 9 Rack Cards on 100# Coated Cover
  • 500 ea. Of four different 4C business cards, 1-sided
  • 1M Letterheads and Matching Envelopes 2C
  • 1,000 and/or 2,000 patient information sheets (blk)
  • 100 pads of 50 each prescriptions forms, 4 x 5.5” on Security Guard paper

The above list is strictly off the top of my head. You will have to come up with your own. If you make the list too long, with too many variables, you are going to encounter reluctance and delays. Obviously, there are many other products and variables that could be applied. You could ask about the additional cost of numbering, or if the letterheads where only one color instead of two.

Hiring a “Professional”

Remember, you are not the person that is going to be doing this shopping. Someone else is, and they have to actually believe and play the part of a secretary for this fictional firm. So, you need to check around with your employees, friends and family and let the word out that you are looking for someone to tackle and take on a special 3-4 day project.

You need to be willing and able to pay someone a decent fee of $12-16 per hour, and you probably need to expect that this project could easily take 20-30 hours to complete. Once you have established the scenario under which you want this person to operate, they need to be provided with a written list of products (like above), a list of printers you want them to visit, as well as specific questions or observations you would like them to make with each visit. What does the place look like, how professional where the people who helped the shopper, how fast did they get back with prices, etc., etc.

So What Does Kathy Do?

Let’s say you have hired Kathy. Kathy needs to dress professionally and should probably carry a small briefcase to play the role. You might or might not even supply her with her own business cards, but in that case the name of the business might be Medical Office Experts, Inc. and of course the phone would have to be her own cell phone. Whoever you hire has to be enthusiastic. Kathy needs to be smart, but she shouldn’t have to know much about printing, nor do you want her using an unusual terms that might set off alarm bells at the firms she visits.

You need to expect that Kathy will make at least one and possibly two visits to each of the ten firms. She should also probably have reason to call them once or twice as well…. Maybe for no other reason than to check as to why she hasn’t heard back from the company. She truly has to be willing to play the role and believe in it if this is to be successful.

Personally, I would tell Kathy that I don’t really expect to hear from her until she is finished with the project. You should expect, at the very least, an excel spreadsheet and a written report within 1-3 paragraphs written up summarizing her visits to each firm.

The one added touch, but rarely done because of the circumstances, is to have that same shopper shop your own firm. That means hiring your shopper and discussing the project either outside of normal office hours or hiring the person off-site.

Stressing Professionalism

I cannot emphasize enough that this project, if it is to be done at all, be conducted professionally, and not just thrown together by having someone make secret, quiet calls from some office in the back of your firm.

I can assure you that once you get the final report, and that’s exactly what you want to receive and expect, is a formal report with pricing, analysis and possibly even graphs. If you can get something like that and it takes 25-30+ hours to complete it is well worth the $300-$450 you might end up spending on this project. Quite naturally, I would expect that you would also be able to sit down with your shopper and get some one-on-one observations to fill in some of the possible blanks.

I will assure you, if this survey is conducted properly, you will be absolutely amazed at the differences in pricing, quality and general overviews that you will receive from your shopper, and that in turn should be of great benefit to your firm. All the more so, if your shopper is able to shop your own firm and be as brutally honest about your own employees and operation as you expect her to be about the competitors she shops.

John Stewart, Executive Director, NPRC
Email me with your questions at:

FREE Sample Pages from Just-Released Pricing Study

Four Free Sample Pages – Would you like a very brief glimpse of what’s contained in the latest 2016-17 Digital Printing Pricing Study? All you have to do is click on the artwork below or click here to download a FREE 4-page PDF demonstrating the tip of the iceberg as to what is in store in the complete study.


“I immediately raised my digital envelope prices 5%… More than paid for the study in less than a month..”

Bob Rosenfield, Edison Press, Sanford, ME

This brand new 114-page study is one of the most comprehensive pricing studies we’ve ever published.

2016-17-digitalcoverolnprcDedicated strictly to pricing of digital products and services, this new study is now available for immediate shipment (hard copies and PDFs). Retail price of this study is $229, however NPRC members are entitled to a 50% discount on this and all other publications listed in our bookstore.

PDF orders are shipped/transmitted same day as received. Hard copies are mailed within 24 hours. Click on the Bookstore tab above or Click Here to place your order.

2017-18 Wage & Benefits Survey

2017-18wagecoverLook for this brand new survey in October. This survey has always proven to be one of the most popular and easiest to complete surveys we publish. NPRC will survey approximately 22 major positions in the small quick and small commercial printing industry segment. The survey doesn’t forget firms who are now offering either mailing services or signs and large format. Both industry segments, in terms of position descriptions and wages, are surveyed as well. 

The new survey has also added a couple of new job descriptions as well, to reflect the belt-tightening occurring in the industry and being reflected in various “combo” position, where CSRs are now often responsible for operating digital equipment and bindery operators are just as likely to be serving a dual function as a delivery person.

We expect the survey to be distributed in early October 2016 with a publication date for the final study of early December. As always, companies that participate and complete a survey will receive a FREE PDF of the final study.

Why participate? There is nothing more disruptive and potentially expensive to a company than to suddenly be faced with replacing a valuable employee that you end up losing because the hourly wage or annual salary you were paying was no longer competitive! If an owner only reviewed his/her salaries periodically, these types of situations would be far less likely to occur. This study is also ideal when you prepare to advertise for a new position or vacancy. Your ability to know in advance what certain types of positions are demanding in the industry can be a powerful tool – and a free tool if you participate.