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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reader’s Digest Chapter 11 shows $3.6M debt to Quad/Graphics

This week Reader's Digest’s parent company RDA Holding Co. filed for bankruptcy for the second time in less than four years. By this measure the company plans to cut its $465 million, keep restructuring, and emerge from Chapter 11 within six months.  It publishes 75 publications around the world, including 49 editions of Reader’s Digest. 

RDA’s February-17th bankruptcy petition lists Quad/Graphics Inc. as one of its largest creditors, saying it owes Quad $3.6 million for a trade claim.

In related news, Time Warner Inc. is in talks to divest most of its Time Inc. magazine group in a deal with Meredith Corp., publisher of titles including Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle, whose readers are mainly women.  In the proposal being discussed, Time Warner would retain its flagship newsweekly Time, along with Sports Illustrated and Fortune, but would transfer most of its other titles, including People, InStyle, and Real Simple.

Given these recent scenarios, magazines printers might be well advised to review their terms of credit with magazine publishers undergoing transition.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2 Canadian companies win World Label Awards for wine labels

Two Canadian label printers are among the winners of the 2012 World Label Awards competition, which was judged by an international jury during Labelexpo in Chicago in September 2012.  Winners were announced on Friday by the L9, an informal group of the world’s leading label-industry trade associations, established at Labelexpo Asia in 2009 to unite and serve as a resource to label communities around the world.  

Their awards competition is divided into 22 classes covering all the main printing processes and label markets.  Entrants must first win a prize in the awards competition of their own local label association—in Canada’s case TLMI (Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute, Inc.), a trade organization for converters and suppliers in the North American tags and pressure sensitive labels industry.

Both Canadian winners were recognized in Wine/Spirits categories:  ASL Print FX (Vaughan, Ontario) for its flexo label for Rennie Estate Winery 2009 Gaia, and TAPP Label Technologies Inc. (Langley, British Columbia) for its offset label for Cloud Valley 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon.  (Actually, TAPP tied as Joint Winner with Sato Printing Co., Ltd., of Japan.)

These developments seem to reinforce my March-2012 article for PrintAction on world-class marketing innovations in Canada’s wine industry.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Canadian Celiac Association develops standards, safety seal, and video to protect Canada's 7 million consumers of gluten-free products

With funding support from the federal government, the Canadian Celiac Association has spent several years to develop a voluntary Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP), comprised of safety standards and a trademarked seal of approval (shown at left) to appear on products meeting those standards.  The program will interest food, drug, and pharmaceutical manufacturers of gluten-free products and their packaging, as well as the 7-million-strong-and-growing number of Canadian consumers who buy gluten-free products. 

The informative promotional video for the GFCP includes a guest appearance by professional hockey player Tom Kostopoulos, spokesperson for both the GFCP and the association.

I am indebted to my LinkedIn contact Paul D. Valder, President of Allergen Control Group Inc. (Milton, ON), for bringing this recent development to my attention.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Printer’s Valentine: Printer Benjamin Franklin immortalized his wife in a song but they lived apart for their last 10 years of marriage

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790, pictured at left on an American $100 bill) worked as a printer from the age of 12 until he retired from business in 1748.  Even after he achieved fame for his numerous other stellar accomplishments, he continued to sign his letters “B. Franklin, Printer”.

In Benjamin’s Autobiography he describes his early courtship of an anonymous girl: 
“The old folks encouraged me by continual invitations to supper, and by leaving us together.”  When Benjamin popped the question, he told the girl’s parents that he expected as a dowry “as much money with their daughter as would pay off my remaining debt for the printing-house.”  When the parents replied that they did not have that much money, he suggested “they might mortgage their house in the loan office.”  In the end, when the parents finally declined Benjamin’s proposal, he “declared absolutely my resolution to have nothing more to do with that family.”
In 1724, at age 17, Benjamin again attempted matrimony by proposing to his then 15-year-old future partner, Deborah Read, while he was lodging at her home in Philadelphia.  Her mother prohibited the marriage because of Benjamin’s financial instability and the fact that he was planning a trip to England. By the time Benjamin returned from England in 1726, Deborah had married someone else, a potter named John Rogers, who soon afterwards stole Deborah’s dowry and deserted her.
Benjamin’s Autobiography records: 
" Our mutual affection was revived, but there were now great objections to our union. The match was indeed looked upon as invalid, a preceding wife being said to be living in England; but this could not easily be proved, because of the distance; and tho' there was a report of his death, it was not certain. Then, tho' it should be true, he had left many debts, which his successor might be called upon to pay. We ventured, however, over all these difficulties, and I took her to wife September 1, 1730. None of the inconveniences happened that we had apprehended; she proved a good and faithful helpmate, assisted me much by attending the shop; we throve together, and have ever mutually endeavored to make each other happy. Thus I corrected that great erratum as well as I could."
Without proof of Rogers’s death, Deborah was not free to remarry formally, so her marriage to Benjamin was common-law.  Besides raising William, Franklin’s illegitimate son from a previous liaison, they had two children together, a son, Francis (born 1732, who died four years later), and a daughter, Sally (born 1743, who lived to marry, bear eight children of her own, and care for her father in his old age.)
Between 1757 and 1775 Benjamin spent most of his time working in London as the agent of the Pennsylvania Assembly, while Deborah stayed in America because of her fear of ocean travel. Although the two exchanged letters and gifts, Deborah and Benjamin reportedly did not see each other whatsoever during the last 10 years of their 44-year marriage.  Deborah died in 1774.
The following are just a few of the verses of “My Plain Country Joan”, a song Benjamin wrote in tribute to her.  (In fact, it wasn’t actually a Valentine but an anniversary gift.)
Of their Chloes and Phyllises poets may prate,
I sing my plain country Joan,
These twelve years my wife, still the joy of my life,
Blest day that I made her my own.

Not a word of her face, of her shape, or her air,
Or of flames, or of darts, you shall hear;
I beauty admire, but virtue I prize,
That fades not in seventy year.

Am I loaded with care, she takes off a large share,
That the burden ne’er makes me to reel;
Does good fortune arrive, the joy of my wife
Quite doubles the pleasure I feel.

She defends my good name, even when I’m to blame,
Firm friend as to man e’er were given;
Her compassionate breast feels for all the distressed,
Which draws down more blessings from heaven.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Happy Chinese New Year and new Goss press for Sing Tao News Corporation

Although the world’s most successful investor, Warren Buffett, drew piles of controversy by purchasing 64 newspapers last year, Buffet’s prediction that “Newspapers that intensively cover their communities will have a good future” seems to be coming true.  

Case in point: Sing Tao News Corporation has purchased a new six-tower Goss Community press to produce the Canadian eastern edition of Sing Tao Daily newspaper, currently based in Toronto. The newspaper is coordinating the new installation with its relocation to a new printing plant in the city of Markham, some 30 km north of Toronto.

PS:  Happy Chinese New Year on Sunday 10 February 2013.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Controversy over Vertis plant closures in Ohio and Ontario persists on line

My initial post on 6 February 2013 appeared as follows:
The closure of a Vertis Communications plant in Medina, Ohio has been scheduled for May 1st  and will lay off 53 workers.  Based on an article in today's Medina Gazette, this matter seems to be attracting less controversy than the same company's January closure of their plant in Fort Erie, Ontario.

Update on 13 February 2013:

Although a similar article published in yesterday's Medina Post does not mention any labour disputes, the reader comments that have accumulated since 6 February 2013, when the Medina Gazette article was published, suggest that ex-Vertis employees in Ohio may be encountering similar problems to those faced by ex-Vertis workers in Ontario.

Anonymous, who has worked at the Medina facility for a decade, reports that workers received “No severance, no warn pay, no vacation paid out, no straight answers on what was happening to the company for 6 months.”  S/he also claims that, in order to secure his bonus, their general manager informed workers falsely that if the company stayed profitable, there was a good chance it would remain open.  From social-media sources like this one, it still remains unclear what the legal status of the ex-Medina-workers is, whether they have taken any collective remedial action, or whether a union represents them.

Meanwhile, Mad In Canada and Rooster1966 report that the controversy at the Fort Erie plant has still not been resolved.  They say the picket line continues 24/7 outside the closed plant and aims to prevent owner Quad/Graphics from removing assets until ex-workers receive the entitlements they have legally earned.

Update on 8 March 2013:

Like the Medina Post, has turned in another neutralized report on the Medina plant closure: 

The following is an Internet link to a letter dated 3 March 2013 from James A Thibert, General Manager, Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation, outlining Mr. Thibert’s version of recent events:

Detailed information on the recent escalation of Ontario protests by ex-Vertis employees is available on the Website of CHCH Television (based in Hamilton, Ontario) at:

But at least someone is still happy with Quad/Graphics:  their shareholders.  The company enjoyed profits of $21 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 and on Monday March 4th declared a quarterly dividend.  Shareholders of record on Monday, March 18th will be given a dividend of $0.30 per share on Friday, March 29th

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Canadian entrepreneur-philanthropist Miles Nadal named Executive of the Year by MEDIA Magazine

Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist Miles Nadal was recognized as 2012’s Executive of the Year at MEDIA Magazine’s 10th Annual Agency of the Year Awards at The Yale Club in New York last week.  Among his legendary achievements, Mr. Nadal is founder, chairman, and CEO of MDC Partners Inc., one of the world’s largest marketing communications firms with over 35 international holdings in Canada, the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean.
Mr. Nadal was born in Toronto and currently lives in Nassau.  The above photo shows one of his many charitable projects, the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre in Toronto.

In 2012 MDC Partners Inc. passed the $1-billion revenue mark.

Read more:

Monday, February 4, 2013

3D-printed garments draw headlines at Paris Fashion Week

Last month, two 3D-printed outfits made headlines at Paris Fashion Week, held January 21-24, 2013 at the Carrousel du Louvre (an architecturally spectacular shopping mall) and other glittery venues in Paris, France. The latest installment of this ritzy, invitation-only, semi-annual fashion trade show included a 3D-printed skirt-and-cape ensemble and an elaborate 3D-printed dress.  Both outfits formed part of the haute couture collection of Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen, whom fashion bloggers generally credit as being the first couturier of digitally constructed fashions.

Actually, 3D-printed fashions were also part of Ms. van Herpen’s 2011 collections, but the ever-more-extreme exploits of 3D printing seem to have attracted much greater attention to her 3D-printed garments this year.

She is also known for her avant garde clothing designs for Iceland-born singer-songwriteBjörk.

Update on 14 March 2013:

Recently at a showcase of 3D-printed products hosted by digital printing marketplace Shapeways, American celebrity Dita Von Teese modeled a 3D-printed little black number designed by Michael Schmidt and generated by architect Francis Bitonti.  Because the fabric of the dress was perforated like netting, Ms. Von Teese wore a flesh-coloured leotard underneath.  She also wore a net veil covering her forehead, the perfect accessory to compliment the gown.  Designer Michael Schmidt expressed enthusiasm about having taken a hard plastic material and “making it flow and sexy and undulate around the body.”

Although the dress was intended as a museum piece, the growing trend in collaboration between 3D printing and haute couture is apt to produce more mainstream applications at some point down the road, along with new opportunities for printers.

I am indebted to my LinkedIn contact Deborah Corn of for bringing this news item to my attention.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Coming soon: World's first liveable 3D-printed house

Further to my post of 31 July/12, 3D-printing technology reaches yet another extreme with the upcoming creation of the world’s first 3D-printed house. 
Let me be clear:  I’m not talking about the prototype models which architects have been creating for a long time using 3-D printers.  I’m talking about an actual, full-scale, 2-storey, habitable residence with around 1,100 square metres (12,000 square feet) of floor space.
Called the “Landscape House”, this creation by 39-year-old Dutch architect Janjaap Ruijssenaais of Universe Architecture, Amsterdam, and mathematician and artist Rinus Roelofs, will be printed in pieces using the giant D-Shape printer developed by Italian mechanical and robotics engineer Enrico Dini.  This printer uses a stereolithography printing process with sand and a binding agent to create stone-like structures that are supposedly as strong as concrete.  The house will take about 18 months to build and is scheduled to be completed some time in 2014 at an estimated cost of €4-5 million ($5.3 billion to $6.6 billion), according to the London Guardian.
Dini’s vision is to make the construction industry more environmentally friendly, provide low-cost buildings for people in need, eliminate the conventional process of manual construction, and give the designer absolute freedom.  "By simply pressing the “enter” key on the keypad we intend to give the architect the possibility to make buildings directly,without intermediaries who can add interpretation and make mistakes in the realization," says the D-Shape Website  “The human limitations of master builders and bricklayers will no longer hamper architects' visions."