Digital Lizard: An Example of Explosive Growth in the Printing Industry

Sometimes it seems as if everything is doom and gloom in the printing industry with ongoing reports of plant closures, shrinking margins, and dwindling print volumes. But then I get a chance to chat with someone like Bill Wieners, president of Digital Lizard, about how they started as a $4-5M digital printer in 2011 and have grown an average of about 65 percent a year over the past four years. That conversation inspired and energized me about the industry and where it can go. Here’s a synopsis of our recent interview. He’ll be going into more depth and even giving a tour of his facility at AppForum in Las Vegas, May 11-13.

If you’re like me, the first question you ask is simply “How?” Well, from my recent conversation with Bill, my simple answer is that most of what they do seems to be done almost backwards. That isn’t strictly accurate and might sound like an odd statement, but in a declining market moving in the opposite direction might not be a bad thing. For example:
They started as an in-plant which sold off the parent company. WHO DOES THAT!?
They grew slightly during the recession years and have exploded since.
They are a digital printing company yet half of their staff—including prepress and press managers—aren’t printers by training.
They teach their salespeople to leave when the purchasing manager enters the room.
They make their money on print solutions but they don’t focus on either print sales or solution sales.

See what I mean? Who are these people and what can the rest of us learn from them?

Digital Lizard started out as the in-plant for a real estate magazine publisher called ByDesign Publishing. They produced 52-page real estate magazines with high-quality offset-printed contents and fully-personalized wrap-around covers. Business was good, but in 2007 they decided to sell the publishing side of the business and to turn the in-plant into a digital commercial printer. Digital Lizard was born.

From 2007-2011 Digital Lizard had revenues between $4 and $5 million and a three to four percent growth rate. This was pretty good given what was happening to the global economy and the print industry at that time. However, in 2011 Digital Lizard was sold to Creel Printing, a traditional web printing company, and to this day, is being run as a separate, digital entity. That infusion of capital, along with their business model and the improvement in the economy, spurred over 60 percent in annual growth over the past four years. And, this isn’t ending. Their revenues have grown about 14 percent already in 2015.
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