Print, Like Manufacturing, Is Changing

Modern Machine Shop employees tour Publishers Press and draw connections between the challenges of manufacturing and print.


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Last month, employees from Modern Machine Shop and other brands from our publisher, Gardner Business Media, attended a tour at Publishers Press, the company that prints Modern’s monthly issues. As we toured the expansive printing operation, located in Lebanon Junction, Kentucky, we were amazed.

The tour guides shared the history of the family business, celebrating its 150th anniversary this year having proved itself adaptable to a century of challenges in its industry.  

As with manufacturing, publishing has been affected by the unanticipated consequences of digital technology and publishers struggled to keep up. Businesses downsized, made major cuts and sought new forms of revenue. Several papers closed their doors.

Word got out that print was dying.

I thought back to some of my teachers and instructors who argued against pursuing a career in a dwindling industry. I was under the impression that because of increasingly essential digital media, print was doomed.

Coming from a small, family-owned manufacturing business, I also saw firsthand the struggles of keeping up with changing technology. Crippling recession and competition overseas threatened small businesses around the country, including the one that I had grown up with. Many did fail. But I also saw several companies emerge stronger than ever.

Getting up close with print last month exposed misconceptions some of us had about the current state of publishing. Walking around the facilities, to our surprise, print did not appear dead.

At Publishers Press, anywhere from 720,000 to 800,000 pounds of paper rushes through the machines every day. Thousands of titles produced there go out to an average of 155,000,000 people each month. Needless to say, a lot of people are reading print.

Similarly, manufacturing suffers from its own share of false perception. Contrary to these ideas, manufacturers are more advanced than ever before. Modern Machine Shop finds no shortage of businesses exceeding expectations and driving the metalworking industry with innovation and new technology.

What lies at the root of the misconceptions is that these industries are not dying; they are simply changing. With dramatic changes come new demands and threats to companies that cannot rise to meet them. The ones that do, however, never fail to surprise us and pave the way for future growth.