What’s happening with availability, pricing increases, and delivery times

Regardless of what industry you work in, it’s very likely that you’ve been hearing the term “supply chain” in the news a lot.   Usually it’s not in a positive light.   The printing industry is fighting this battle and will likely have many challenges as we close out 2021 and enter 2022.  The entire printing community is facing an incredibly difficult time sourcing the necessary paper supplies to produce all of the orders in the months to come.

What’s going on with the paper supply
Paper Mills across the country and in Canada have established allocations on almost all paper production.  This basically rations how much paper they will sell to any one customer at any one time.  Obviously, this challenges the ability to get what is needed to produce work as the demand continues to be strong.

As the pandemic was in full swing, many paper mills reduced supply as demand was dropping or were converting to other production such as packaging materials.   When demand began to take off, it happened quickly.   Mills were facing significant cost increases in pulp and chemicals needed to produce paper, labor shortages and transportation delays.   Inventory levels domestically are at historic lows as a result which has created more questions than answers when asking “when will my print project be completed”.

Foreign imports of commercial paper also continue to be challenging with container costs at all-time highs and transportation delays hampering the distribution across the country.   It’s expected to continue as we enter into the busiest times of the year during the holidays for all freight and logistics companies.

What is Midstates Group doing about it
Needless to say, our purchasing staff has been tasked with a huge responsibility to find creative options and new sources for the materials we need to operate.   We have been pro-actively working with all of our customers to get orders in well ahead of their usual timelines.   As lead times for most grades of paper are currently 8-16 weeks out, it is more important than ever to plan ahead on these projects.

Talking with your Midstates Group Sales Representative early and often will be a key factor to a successful order and delivery.    However, with most stocks of paper in tight supply or on restricted allocations, having some flexibility may also be required.   Discussions are ongoing for changing long-standing specifications in order to source the paper and allow for production.

Our relationships with our paper vendors are very solid and that has opened doors to opportunities in sourcing paper for current customers and repeat orders.   Those relationships have been invaluable during these challenging times.
We are committed to communicating with customers, but realize those communications are more and more difficult when we don’t have the best information to pass along.   Customer Focus is one of our three main Core Values at Midstates Group.   Our team is dedicated to working hard in finding solutions to meet quality and delivery expectations with each and every job.   Unfortunately, the issues that face our industry are affecting us as well.   In addition to the paper shortages, we’ve seen late deliveries with other core materials needed in our business such as ink and silicon and other plastic related products.   We’ve experience freight delays.  Production labor is in tight supply forcing us to shift schedules and timelines on a daily basis.

Installation of New Press and other equipment
We are excited as we entered into 2021 with the announcement of a $5million investment in new equipment within our facilities.   This new equipment, which includes a heat-set web press, digital press, perfect binder, small run bindery equipment, and cutting and folding equipment, are going to put Midstates Group in a great position to meet our customers’ demands as we move into 2022.   Our new heat-set web press is the last of these to be installed and we are currently fine tuning the press for live jobs right now.
Each of these projects experienced their own delays with freight deliveries and waiting on necessary parts to arrive certainly affected our production capabilities as well, but are now operational and improving our throughput daily.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to your Sales Representative or Project Coordinator with any questions or concerns.  Our industry challenges continue to evolve each and every day.   We are here to help!