Stationery, Tablets, and Related Products

SIC 2678

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

Establishments in this industry are primarily engaged in manufacturing stationery, tablets, loose-leaf fillers, and related items from purchased paper. Products include correspondence-type tablets, paper desk pads, loose-leaf filler paper, memo books, newsprint tablets and pads, notebooks, stationery, and various other padded paper products.

Sales by stationery, tablet, and related product manufacturers reached $1.1 billion in 2008, according to a report by Supplier Relations US LLC. That year, the United States imported $600 million in products within this category, primarily from Canada, Portugal, Indonesia, China, and Brazil. Exports of such products reached $1.1 billion, with Canada receiving a majority of U.S. shipments.

The stationery products industry consists of three categories: stationery; tablets, pads, and related products; and stationery, tablets, and related products not specified by kind (NSK). Tablets and pads accounts for a great majority of industry products, with 61 percent of industry shipments (by value), followed by stationery with 30 percent. The NSK category accounts for the remaining 9 percent. According to the American Forest and Paper Association, in the late 2000s the United States was the largest producer of printing and writing papers, with nearly 25 percent of the world supply.

Within the tablet and pad category, the leading product is bound notebooks, followed by tablets and pads and loose-leaf paper fillers. The two leading products in the stationery category are boxed stationery and portfolios, and wedding and social announcements.

The use of recycled paper for stationery and writing products showed significant increases in the 2000s. The overall paper recovery rate for the United States in 2008 was 57.4 percent, or more than 53 million tons, according to the American Forest & Paper Association. This rate represents an increase of 83.7 percent since 1990. Statistically, this translates to more than 360 pounds of paper recovered for each person in the United States, up from 233 pounds per person in 1990. As new technologies and improved manufacturing methods for recycled paper are introduced, more of the paper that manufacturers use for stationery, tablets, and other products will be made of recycled paper. Office Depot was participating in this industry trend by offering a line of stationery and office paper products from New Leaf Paper, a company that produced paper made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled content. In addition to being made from recycled material, these papers are manufactured using "Green-e certified renewable energy," according to a 2009 Energy Resource article. In other words, "green house gas emissions were mitigated during the production and shipping of these stationery products."

Stationery products are produced by a wide range of companies. Some of the larger paper manufacturing companies have divisions that convert and distribute their own brands of stationery products. Smaller independent stationery converters have also managed to survive and thrive in this market.

Consumers account for the majority of stationery products purchased, at slightly more than 50 percent. The remaining customers for stationery products comprise a wide range of businesses and government agencies, including retail trade, wholesale trade, and doctors and dentists.

As one might expect, paper mills are the largest supplier to the stationery products industry, providing almost 60 percent of all product inputs. Other suppliers of products and services include the wholesale trade, paperboard mills, motor freight transport firms, and railroads.

The stationery products industry is considered a mature industry, meaning that sales increases are likely to track closely with general growth in the economy. The industry has been negatively impacted by the increased use of personal computers for home and office use, which has reduced the demand for a wide variety of stationery products. While computer printers have increased the use of paper in general, such increases have come in the use of laser printer paper, which is not included in this classification. In addition, extensive downsizing at many U.S. companies in the early 2000s negatively affected the use of all office paper products, including stationery. The trend toward home-based offices, however, has been a bright spot for stationery product manufacturers.

One major change in the stationery products industry has been the manner in which its products have been marketed to consumers. Stationery products were once sold primarily by small, independent stationery stores. However, much of that sales volume in the late 2000s has been captured by office product superstores such as OfficeMax Inc. and Office Depot, Inc., which have been able to force smaller retailers out of the marketplace and drive wholesale prices down.

Several large paper companies are leaders in the stationery products industry. MeadWestvaco Corp. of Glen Allen, Virginia, produces notebooks, binders, planners, appointment books, notepads, and stationery under such brands as Mead, Five Star, Cambridge, Columbian, At-A-Glance, Day Runner, and Scholastic. Founded in 1846 by Colonel Daniel Mead, MeadWestvaco reported revenue of $6.6 billion in 2008 with 24,000 employees.

3M Company of St. Paul, Minnesota, is a large, diversified corporation with six operating segments, one of which is consumer and office products. Post-It Notes has become one of 3M's most popular brands since its national introduction in 1980. By 2007, some 600 varieties of Post-It products were sold in more than 100 countries. 3M's total revenue for 2008 surpassed $25.2 billion with 79,183 employees.

In addition to these industry giants, several mid-sized independent converters contribute significantly to the industry. American Pad & Paper LLC of Richardson, Texas, designed the first legal pad in 1888. In the late 2000s, the company produced the Gold Fibre line of writing pads as well as some 1,400 other products. Roaring Spring Blank Book Co. of Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania, is one of the largest independently owned producers of school and office supplies and manufactures notebooks, pads, tablets, construction paper, poster board, and pocket folders.

The stationery products industry has experienced steady attrition in employment since the late 1990s. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that employees of stationery, tablet, and related product manufacturers numbered 4,475 in 2007, down from 6,620 people in 2002 and from 9,217 in 1997. About 76 percent of employees were production workers, and total annual payroll was $145.6 million.

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