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Screen Printing and a China Rooster

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This weekend was spent helping a friend move into a 50-year-old, newly purchased house. The previous owners had attempted to update it, putting black granite countertops in the kitchen, painting the cupboards a shiny gray, and slapping down floor tiles of an oatmeal hue. The remake just didn’t fit the original homey feel of a brick exterior and wood-floored home with charming rounded doors and archways between rooms. Besides a good scrub, the house needed a bright yellow teapot, primary colored doodads, some soft earthy rugs, and—of course—a crowing china-rooster pitcher.

This weekend was spent helping a friend move into a 50-year-old, newly purchased house. The previous owners had attempted to update it, putting black granite countertops in the kitchen, painting the cupboards a shiny gray, and slapping down floor tiles of an oatmeal hue. The remake just didn’t fit the original homey feel of a brick exterior and wood-floored home with charming rounded doors and archways between rooms. Besides a good scrub, the house needed a bright yellow teapot, primary colored doodads, some soft earthy rugs, and—of course—a crowing china-rooster pitcher. It just lacked signs of life.

As I began working on the house I thought about the SGS Conference in Tampa, FL, in January. During working lunches, high-level executives and top managers of signage and graphics companies hashed out the leading topics of the day regarding the printing industry. I sat at a table during one of these lunches where the topic for discussion was, “What’s the Prognosis for Screen Printing?” With the word “prognosis,” I expected a clinical, somewhat negative response, but what I found was really worthwhile.

One printer from the East said that his business had become steady with the same customers with the same demands for proofs, tight margins, and no changes in sight. They didn’t demand anything more than he could supply, and adding digital printers wasn’t in his short-term future. Yet he wondered how long it could last.

A young quality manager for a printing firm in the Midwest said that his firm had both screen and digital equipment and that his company printed which ever way made sense. The printer said that the amount of work in the digital press area was growing. His logic was that the numbers and the desired effect determined which type of printing took place.

Another printer had bought into the digital area without reservation. It had cost him quite a bit, but the screen-printing business was just going away as far as he could determine. Two of the execs came from the digital world and that drew their interest.

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After a fairly long discussion, one attendee from Texas finished his sandwich, pushed back and declared, “I’m glad that you all are cutting down on your screen business; and I wish that you’d send me what remains, because I can’t get enough of it. I’m making good money and it feels good. Send them my way.” Then he began reviewing some of his recent projects for signs, wall coverings, and textiles.

Some days, all it takes is one china rooster to light up a room.

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