At the GCIC: roundtable homes in on flexibility

Naples, FL—Flexibility, and the lack thereof, was a hot topic at a roundtable discussion at the 2001 Gravure Catalog and Insert Council (GCIC) Conference here. Representatives from J.C. Penney, R.R. Donnelley & Sons, Flink Ink, and Madison International led a forum on supply chain management issues that covered everything from production pressures to the recent anthrax attacks.

John Baetz, vice president of print media for cataloger/retailer J.C. Penney, expressed concern of the lack of flexibility in the production process. What with gravure machines booked through 2003, he noted, it has become increasingly difficult for catalogers to respond rapidly to changes in market conditions. Although the marketing and merchandising departments can often modify strategies quickly, printing plants cannot always accommodate the changes.

At the same time Steve Zuccarini, vice preisdent of merchandise media for printer R.R. Donnelley, praised catalogers for reacting so quickly in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, by holding catalogs drops and avoiding mailing into key areas affected by the incidents. He also said that following the infiltration of anthrax in the mail stream, printers have become more aware of paper dust in their plants and are working to remove it from their products so as to avoid frightening consumers.

Since the attacks, paper delivery has slowed somewhat due to checks of shipments at the Canadian boarder and on ships, noted Craig Nelson, vice president of the western region for paper manufacturer Madison International. In fact, the panelists agreed to involve representatives from the railroad companies to participate in next year’s conference to discuss delivery of paper to printers.

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