Starting Over

By Dawn Lospaluto
In March 21, 2013

It’s been nearly five months since Superstorm Sandy battered the east coast in late October, and for many with homes on the barrier islands along the Jersey shore, everything is different. The sand may be gone from their houses (along with their ruined possessions), the mold may have been scrubbed away, but on this second day of Spring they know that the Summer of 2013 will be unlike any other.

It has been particularly painful for older residents faced with the choice of repairing their homes and spending huge sums to raise them several feet or face equally large flood insurance payments if they do not; knocking the damaged structures down and rebuilding; or trying to sell what’s now viewed as less-than-desirable property in communities torn apart by damage.

For many, the summer cottage that they thought would become their retirement home is no longer an option.  Their communities are devastated, many of their longtime friends are not returning, and the dream of living out their post-work years at the shore they’ve loved for a lifetime has become an economic nightmare.

They are confused and angry that this has happened to them when they thought they had done everything right and planned so well. The comment heard from many is that “they simply are too old to start over.” Sometimes I think many in our industry feel this way as well.

The industry they knew has been changed irrevocably by Hurricane Digital and Superstorm Internet. Once solid segments such as directories, product manuals, and forms have all but disappeared. Newspapers, books, and magazines have been slammed by vanishing ads and readers. Many venerable companies have been sold or closed and many industry peers they have known for decades are gone.

Printers who thought their business would sustain them in their retirement and provide their families with an ongoing livelihood are struggling with the impact of fundamental industry change and wondering what to do next. And perhaps they, too, are asking themselves if it’s too late to start over.

It’s not a question anyone should try to answer on his or her own. Determining a course of action should begin with a comprehensive and objective analysis of a company’s current situation. NAPL’s Business Advisory Team can help owners look at every aspect of their business–from their customer base and competitive position to their product mix, workflow, staffing, and billing procedures–and find ways to help them build on their strengths and improve their weaknesses.

And if the best course of action is for them to align with a complementary partner or leave the industry NAPL’s mergers & acquisitions experts can take them through every step of the M&A process so that they achieve the most profitable and productive outcome.

Is it too late to start over? Not if that start is on a well-conceived and thoughtfully executed path to success. When people asked columnist Ann Landers if it was too late to go back to school because in 10 years they would be 50, she would say, “Well, in 10 years you’re going to be 50 anyway, with or without a degree.”

Of course, amidst the doom and gloom in the wake of Sandy, as the temperature rises, more and more Jersey shore residents will move forward with rebuilding the area they love, perhaps differently, and certainly with a better knowledge of how events beyond their control can affect them. They can’t do anything to change what’s happened, but can determine of how they respond.

And as with the Jersey shore, our industry will rebound from its present economic and structural challenges, but it, too, will be different. The companies that rebound with it will be those that understand what the differences are and what they mean, those that dwell less on events they cannot change and more on learning how to capitalize on them.

Dawn Lospaluto

Epicomm Senior Director of Communications, Dawn has been the editor of Epicomm 's "Bottom Line" magazine and its predecessor publications, "NAPL Business Review," Printing Manager," and "The Journal of Graphic Communications Management," for 20 years. She also writes and edits several Epicomm member print and electronic newsletters, including [Re]View, Management Bulletin, Highlights, and Discover; press releases; and various marketing materials; and oversees Epicomm 's book publishing program. Dawn previously served as corporate managing editor for Allied (now Honeywell) Corporation and as a reporter and editor for New Jersey's largest evening newspaper. She is a graduate of Douglass College (Rutgers University) and holds an M.A. degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she has served on the adjunct faculty.

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