O clients, where art thou?

| Print |  Email
Archives - September 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
BookBindery_1
BookBindery_2
Brother Gerald Mathison (top) and the abbey’s bookbindery (bottom) are on a search for new customers.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAPPIST ABBEY BOOKBINDERY

Brother Gerald Mathison, the assistant manager of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey Bookbindery, thinks the Abbey bookbindery’s product has never been better.

Mathison proudly notes that many of the bookbindery’s customers — almost 30 college and university libraries in the Willamette Valley and San Francisco Bay Area — have regularly used the bookbindery for two or three decades. One of five industries generating income covering the Abbey’s operating costs and charitable giving, the bookbindery, he says, was the Abbey’s primary source of income.

But because of the recession and increasing digitalization of magazines, periodicals, and other print media, that’s no longer the case.

Five years ago, the Abbey’s bindery bound an average of 1,000 books each week. Mathison says the bindery now binds between 600 and 700 books a week and annually earns $250,000. “We’re holding our own, but the numbers are definitely down,” he says. And for the first time since its founding in 1955, the bookbindery is finding itself needing to develop new clients.

“We’re not anxious to put on a suit and go out and get new customers,” Mathison says, explaining that the monks live a cloistered life. “That’s a contradiction to our way of life. Nevertheless, we are in the business world.”

What might have been an uncomfortable marketing campaign was made easy by a suggestion made by a younger monk, to use the very thing causing the bookbindery to lose business — the Internet.

Six months ago, Mathison assigned two monks to use the Internet to seek out customers. Already specializing in thesis and dissertation binding, as well as binding for college and university libraries, the bookbindery is further specializing its niche by targeting smaller colleges.

“Sometimes a smaller school, when they have lighter numbers for binding, have difficulty getting a reasonable rate from large book binders,” Mathison says. He says a dozen schools have shown interest in doing business with the bookbindery.

If web searching does not make up for the loss in orders, the bookbindery may add on-demand printing in addition to binding services.

“There’s a huge amount of business out there for that,” Mathison says. “It’s one thing being considered.”

Mathison does not predict the bookbindery will close. He also thinks many clients will remain loyal. “The customers we have have been delighted in our product,” he says. “We put a lot of emphasis into customer service, and that’s been a big deal.”


AMANDA WALDROUPE
 

More Articles

Finding a Balance

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, January 29, 2015
012915-passinvst-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Active vs. passive investing: what you need to know.


Read more...

The week journalism died

Linda Baker
Sunday, February 15, 2015
deadjournalismthumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

As the investigation against the governor moves forward, those of us in the news business should reflect on our own potential for subverting the democratic process.


Read more...

LEED for weed

Linda Baker
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
012815-potcarbon-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

What is the impact of the legal pot industry on carbon emissions?


Read more...

Carbon Power

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Researchers in a multitude of disciplines are searching for ways to soak up excess carbon dioxide, the compound that contributes to global warming.


Read more...

Photos from the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon awards celebration

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
IMG 9975cneditPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the 2015 celebration of Oregon's great workplaces.


Read more...

4 winners and losers in the Kitzhaber scandal

The Latest
Thursday, February 12, 2015
021315-govorno-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Examining the governor's rapid fall from grace in a "bizarre" and "unprecedented" saga.


Read more...

Umbrella Revolution

March 2015
Monday, February 23, 2015

Yeah, we know: Oregonians are way too cool for umbrellas. But today’s stylish, high-tech models will soften the resistance of the most rain hardened.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS