Manifold Business Forms

SIC 2761

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This category covers establishments primarily engaged in designing and printing, by any process, special forms for use in the operation of a business, in single and multiple sets, including carbonized or interleaved with carbon or otherwise processed for multiple reproduction.

The status of the manifold business form industry is directly tied to the overall health of the U.S. business sector. A bustling economy, with established businesses reporting growth and new enterprises entering the field and surviving during their first years of operation, breeds a demand for business products. The establishments engaged in printing and manufacturing manifold business forms generally limit their product lines to such forms. The number of these establishments grew steadily throughout the late twentieth century, reaching nearly 950 by 2000.

U.S. Census Bureau figures put the number of industry establishments at 600 in 2007, down from 705 in 2004. The value of shipments for 2007 was $5.4 billion, compared to $6.7 billion in 2002. Shipments have been on the decline since the late 1990s due in part to increasing imports, decreasing exports, increased laser printer usage for custom business forms, and rising paper costs. According to figures from Dun and Bradstreet's 2009 Industry Reports, Ohio (home of industry leader Standard Register) accounted for the largest percentage of the nation's sales, followed by Georgia and New York. Most establishments were small, with about 77 percent employing fewer than 50 workers. Industry leaders in the late 2000s included Standard Register Co., of Dayton, Ohio, which posted sales of $791.1 million in 2008, and Sierra Coatings Technologies, formerly Shade/Allied Inc., of De Pere, Wisconsin.

Manifold business forms are printed by commercial printing establishments and then sold to other businesses for use in all manner of transactions. Many of the establishments in this industry are regional in scope, gearing their sales and distribution efforts to a limited area. Such companies may market their products through an in-house sales team that targets area businesses, or they may sell their wares through retail office supply outlets or local printing shops. The products can be classified into two subcategories: custom and stock. Custom forms are printed for a specific enterprise's particular needs, while stock forms can be sold to and used by a wide range of establishments. Stock manifold business forms include sequentially numbered tickets, cash receipt journals, message memo pads, invoice books, and spreadsheet books. Blank standard legal documents, such as lease agreements for landlords and incorporation forms, also are a vital component of the manifold business form industry. Most Americans encounter manifold business forms in a variety of daily public transactions, but their use is often vital to behind-the-scenes business operations as well.

In the mid-2000s the top export market for manifold business forms was Canada, followed by the United Kingdom and Mexico. Canada and Mexico also imported products in this category. By 2008 imports had increased to $10.5 million, from $8.4 million in 2000. Exports over this time frame decreased from $14.1 million to $10.4 million, according to Supplier Relations US LLC.

The number of people employed by the industry began to decrease in the early 1990s. In 1987 the industry employed 53,000 people, of which production workers accounted for 37,100. As of 2007, however, the industry employed only 22,591. This decline was partly due to the growing use of computers in businesses of all sizes. Affordable laser printers can easily produce mass-volume custom business forms of all types, rendering the need to purchase standard manifold forms unnecessary. The proliferation of electronic financial transactions also has hurt the industry, resulting in a reduced demand for standard commercial checkbooks. In addition, many companies and government facilities have started to make their forms available for download over the Internet. Widespread use of laser printers for on-demand forms, along with other industry-related factors such as increasing paper prices, suggests a challenged industry, which is supported by both a decreased workforce and the reduced value of industry shipments.

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