The only thing that stays the same is change
Well, it’s certainly been an eventful past 12 months in the US office products industry. The ‘Big 3’, after years of speculation, have become the ‘Big 2’ and the ramifications of that are going to influence the marketplace for some time to come.
That was by no means the only major transaction in 2013. Consolidation and divestment continued to gather pace, notably with deals involving Avery, Boise, Guernsey and ECi/Red Cheetah. And the first few weeks of 2014 have already seen further activity, with RR Donnelley agreeing to buy Esselte and IP spinning off its xpedx distribution division to merge with Unisource.
The move to online and mobile, declining usage of traditional products and the rise of the mobile/home worker are just three of the key trends that will ensure that manufacturers, resellers, wholesalers and systems providers alike will have to continue to evolve in order to remain relevant.
But then the need to evolve is nothing new, is it? It was interesting speaking with Chip Hummel for this publication’s Big Interview (see pages 8-14) and gaining an insight into how the industry operated in the 1970s. No-one then could have imagined how the office products landscape would look 40 years later, but for entrepreneurs like Chip change is just something you have to adapt to and invest in. And today’s younger generation of entrepreneurs is no different.
Andy Braithwaite, Editor