Selling a Printing or Publishing Company

Sep 14, 2021

There are two types of products or services that can be envisioned and created by an entrepreneur or inventor. The difference between an entrepreneur and an inventor being whether the individual creates something independently and creates a marketplace for it on their own or develops the item while employed in the private or public sector and has a “go to” market strategy within that infrastructure.  The two classes of products or services are divided into ones that target a niche market and ones that target a general population.  Niche markets can be very small (e.g. car stickers for youth sports teams) or so large they are international.

A very large international marketplace was created by Maki Kaji, as the entrepreneur with the vision to turn the number puzzle game, Sudoku (Originally called Number Place), into a mental acuity and travel time entertainment activity beloved by children to the elderly through making it a mainstream product published in 100’s of newspapers around the world.  Mr. Kaji, a college dropout, found personal fulfillment and financial success as one of the co-founders, along with two childhood friends, of Nikoli, the original publisher of Sudoku. Unfortunately, this entrepreneur who touched the lives of countless individuals in virtually every village, town, and city around the planet passed away recently.  I anticipate his legacy will survive on planes and at kitchen tables indefinitely into the future.

One of the oldest and largest venues for entrepreneurship is the printing and publishing industry.  The most common entry point into this sector as an entrepreneur is as an author.  Success of authors can range from Theodore Geisel, commonly known as Dr. Seuss, one of our family’s multigenerational favorite authors to my friend, Howard Droker, who wrote the book on the history of houseboats in Seattle,  Today self-publishing a book has never been easier for anyone with an idea or story to share and the cost of production never lower with over 18 billion dollars being spent on E-books in 2020.

Beyond being an author there is a wide spectrum of other ways to engage with the marketplace as a printer or publisher.  IBA, as the oldest business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest, has successfully sold many different types of businesses in this industry.  Our past projects have included independent and franchised printing and reproduction companies producing high quantity, reoccurring order items ranging from business cards to brochures to menus; specialty printers producing beautiful invitations for weddings to utility meter inserts to hospitality industry marketing materials targeting tourists at hotels and visiting concierge desks; sign & banner manufacturers; novelty sticker printers to complete vehicle wraps; and direct mail coupons.  We have also worked with companies that published travel guides, technical manuals, and training materials, in addition to businesses that print & embroidery shirts, bags, apparel, and promotional products ranging from pens to golf balls to crystal keepsake items.

Two of the elements we like as professional intermediaries related to the printing industry are that the marketplace for sales is limitless and constantly evolving.  Every business is a potential customer from the new restaurant needing signage and cocktail napkins to a plumber needing logoed polo shirts for their team.  Even in a COVID-19 world, opportunity knocked for companies able to print floor stickers for the social distancing of customers and produce masks featuring company logos.  In addition to new marketplaces being created annually as customer preferences and product choices change, the industry also frequently sees evolution in production equipment enhancing efficiency and profitability for business owners.

In addition to the creation of tangible products, many entrepreneurs in the printing & publishing field have expanded their services into the online world graphically designing and supplying verbiage for the creation of digital logos, websites, and marketing materials sent via the Internet.  In 2021, a business is often judged by the presentation of information and images found via a Google or Bing search.  A website that is not easy to navigate or that does not incorporate videos into their presentation of information commonly is viewed as antiquated and out of touch with the modern marketplace for customers.

Almost 600 years ago in 1455, Johann Gutenberg produced what is commonly considered the first book ever printed, the Gutenberg Bible,,be%20known%20as%20%E2%80%9CJohann%20Gutenberg%E2%80%9D%20%28John%20Beautiful%20Mountain%29.  That innovative act in Germany set wheels in motion throughout the world that today finds books and printed materials omnipresent in every language spoken on the earth.  IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s oldest business brokerage firm, did not print its first business cards until 1975, 521 years after Guttenberg’s creation of the world’s first moveable print press, a short 46-year life span as a company in comparison, however starting in that year IBA commenced gaining experience in the sale of printing & publishing companies, a type of business we have sold 100’s of times in our history.   We welcome the opportunity to share our knowledge and experience gained through successful deal facilitation in this sector with anyone interested in selling a printing or publishing company.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, and mergers & acquisitions community on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.