Print and packaging companies are at war with each other

By Packaging Digest Staff in Decorating on August 17, 2011



A battle for talent has broken out in the industry.


As millions continue to be unemployed, print and packaging companies contract hired guns to steal employees from their competitors. The trend has reached a furious pace with requests for people doubling. Rather than working to transition new people into the industry, companies pay big fees to firms to steal their competitors' best employees. The aging printing industry and the charge towards digital technology are creating a widening gap between the existing employees, who are on the verge of retirement, and the need for new talent. The battle is being fought between companies to win and keep those who understand the new technology. 

"There's no bench team in the printing industry today," remarks Ken Ballard, president of Concord GRN. "Technology has moved so rapidly over the past five years into digital printing, integrated marketing and specialized web solutions that many of the existing print professionals have been left behind."


Standard processes of printing are falling by the wayside and those who are on the twilight of their career are not motivated to re-learn their job after so many years. Add to that the fact that there are so few print-focused training programs and the pool of candidates who can do the jobs inside printing companies today shrinks even more. 

A regional manager for a printing company remarks, "I looked around and realized it was a room full of 50-year-olds; there are just no new faces getting into printing."


The battle to win what printing jobs are being produced remains strong and this drives down the profit and reduces the resources print companies have to invest in developing people. Companies on the edge in this market are ripe for attack by a skilled recruiter hired to steal their talent. 

"Many clients tell us the same thing: they need someone now, not someone they can train for the next two years to get up to speed," says Ballard. Placements at Concord GRN have increased 28 percent over the last year as requests have doubled. However, as the pool of talent continues to shrink, the battle between companies for the most talented people will continue to escalate. Print and packaging companies will either need to find a way to develop their won talent or be prepared to battle on a daily basis to keep their talent. The simple choice is to pay the fees to capture talent or be prepared to see their best people stolen from them as they are targeted by their competition. The question for the industry will be if that is sustainable.

Concord GRN, a full-service executive recruitment firm specializing in the print and packaging industry, prides itself on talent acquisition from the pool of untapped, often hidden top performers. Ken Ballard, president and founder, has been recognized as a $Million Dollar Biller.


Source: Concord GRN


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I pounced on this article as its subject is near and dear to my heart given that I am available. The notions that Lisa speaks about are not visible in the North East or Canada. I am a very experienced member of the print industry with an excellent track record keeping up with technology. I am also fluent in Lean manufacturing and computer savvy and started exploring inkjet technology when it was merely at white paper status in 1978. Prospective print employers are not interested and also Packaging firms will not even discuss porting someone from another sector. I was an industry advocate speaking to the local colleges and even taking several students in each year for internships. Now I recommend the exact opposite to students - stay clear of these industries. It is very unfortunate that there is so much dogmatism in the leadership thinking today. Time will come and as Lisa writes, when the pool will be so small the pay levels will become quite attractive. Too bad most can't see farther ahead than the next quarter's results.