2021 Supply Chain Survival Guide

              With COVID-19 still looming, its repercussions continue to overshadow the US economy affecting businesses and consumers alike.  High gasoline prices, inflated grocery costs, and crazy shipping times are quickly becoming the new normal for the foreseeable future.  In an industry dependent on production materials, it remains difficult to give or receive accurate information on material availability and delivery timelines when they change by the day and in some cases, the hour.  At CCG, we continue to work diligently to offer the best service to our customers while maintaining transparency about ongoing supply chain issues. 

              The major source of this supply chain headache is San Pedro Bay’s Port of Los Angeles.  The port has long been a bustling center of commerce for the United States and the world.  Its proximity to major freight railways, deep waters, and being a stone’s throw from China (as shipping logistics go) have earned it the title of being the busiest port in the United States.  The Port of Los Angeles, combined with the Port of Long Beach, form the San Pedro Bay Port Complex which accounts for 40% of US container imports per year, totaling about 48,000 shipping containers per day.  Last January, the complex had all but stopped functioning as a result of complications from the pandemic—creating a bottleneck the magnitude of which has never before been seen. Over forty ships sat in the San Pedro Bay, some for weeks, waiting to unload goods to be shipped across the country. To compound the issue, there was a massive surge in shipping volume as retailers attempted to catch up with increasing demand as businesses reopened and people resumed their daily lives.  Not to mention the ever-increasing number of people relying solely on e-commerce for the delivery of products.  Additionally, infection rates among port workers continued to increase with almost 12% of the workforce out in one day—an estimated 1,800 employees.  Fast forward to November 2021, there are over 100 cargo ships off the coast of LA waiting to unload.  This is a record-breaking number that has crippled the normal supply chain given that cargo ships normally have no wait at port.  The number of ships will continue to increase until the labor force replenishes and there are workers to unload the cargo at a normal rate.

              So, what does this mean for our economic supply chain and what can businesses do in the meantime?  Right now, this bottleneck is causing uncertainty and confusion about the availability of goods across all industries.  In the printing industry, shortages of paper, toner, and ink are driving up prices and creating frustrating wait times.  In the promotional products industry, just about every product you can think of is out of stock or limited in quantity as companies wait for inventory to arrive from the ports.  Often, products or materials that are in stock one day are out of stock the next with no end in sight.  With the holiday season here, there is even higher demand for these goods.  The best way to deal with this situation is to remain flexible and to plan.  Here are 5 tips for surviving the current supply chain crisis:

  1.  Be flexible with branding.  Branding items increases timelines further with many embroiderers and screen printers operating at full capacity and working overtime.  Consider branded stickers on items or branding one item in a gift box instead of every item.
  2. Order in advance.  If you ordered holiday gifts in September you’d probably have them by now.  Avoid the hassle and stress of OUT OF STOCK by securing materials ahead of time.
  3. Consider lesser-known brands.  Huge name brands like YETI and Under Armour are almost impossible to source right now.  Consider private label brands which offer availability and customization without compromising quality.
  4. Stick to USA-made brands.  Companies that source and produce in the USA have shorter shipping times than those overseas which means less wait time for you.
  5. Remember everyone, up and down the supply chain, is affected by this predicament.  With a little patience and understanding, we will all get through this together!

By Marley Niesz

#GotYourBack: A CCG Story

              What makes a company valuable?  What sets it apart from the competition?  How do we attract and keep loyal and dedicated employees? As a CCG employee myself, with less than a year into my career, I mulled over these questions as I admired CCG’s senior employees who have spent decades with the company.  While I already know the value CCG provides to its customers, I wanted to sit down with our most senior team members and listen to their stories. 

“Our capabilities allow for a lot of flexibility with different jobs.”

-Patrick McInerny

              Patrick McInerny, Bindery Supervisor at CCG, tells the story of getting his first job here. He quickly proved himself as a conscientious employee and soon was afforded opportunities for growth within the company.  Although he started out in shipping, Patrick realized his affinity for working with machines and began putting in overtime working in the bindery.  A fast learner, at the age of 24, he was put into a management position in the bindery.  When CCG acquired another company, it changed the type of work the company was producing and he made the decision to seek a new opportunity elsewhere.  Although he had positive experiences with his new company, when Randy Sparrow, CCG’s Chief of Operations, called on him to come back to CCG, he accepted and is still here today. When asked about his loyalty to CCG, Patrick explained that his reasons range from fairness to flexibility and growth. “CCG treats its employees fairly. There is always work to be done and opportunities to grow.  We have a wide range of machines: 7 to 8 folders, stitchers, and a Hunkler with in line folding just to name a few. Our capabilities allow for a lot of flexibility with different jobs,” said Patrick.

“Our customers become part of our family.” -Patty Bennett

              Patty Bennett, CCG’s Billing Administrator, spoke highly of the support and encouragement she has received over the years from her mentors at CCG.  Patty began her career at CCG in the accounting department, and after six years had acquired the knowledge and skillset to be promoted to Billing Administrator.  The mentorship and support of her supervisors and colleagues fosters a family atmosphere within the company, according to Patty.  As an employee-owned company, CCG has a culture of accountability to its customers and between employees.  The overall desire is to see each other do well while doing what is best for the customers. 

“We haven’t been around this long by accident.” -Bob Bahm

              This June, estimator Bob Bahm, will celebrate 31 years with Corporate Communications Group.  He talked to me about the company’s shared values of mutual respect and loyalty.  Bob recalled a time when he and a coworker got into a disagreement.  Discouraged by the situation, but encouraged to work it out, they composed themselves and resumed the process of listening to each other’s side. Together, they resolved the issue.  This example highlights the idea of mutual respect and trust between coworkers, as well as CCG’s motto “#GotYourBack”.  The #GotYourBack motto transcends the company culture inside our walls out to our customers as well.  As Bob said, “We haven’t been around this long by accident. Printing companies have to change with the times and be forward thinking. It is this mindset, from our leadership and employees, that allows us to serve and meet the needs of our customers.” 

“The level of reliability and service that we bring to our clients would be impossible to match by any other company.” -Kevin Dunn

              In speaking with my coworkers about the company, one of my favorite parts was hearing stories of CCG employees coming together in support of each other and to help our customers.  Senior Account Executive Kevin Dunn, who has been with the company for 39 years, shared a great example of this.  One of Kevin’s customers needed a 24-hour turnaround on a significantly large print job.  He was awarded the project on a Friday and the customer needed delivery the next day!  Management huddled and came out with a request for the needed employees who would be critical to completing and delivering the job within the 24-hour turn time — asking if they would be willing to work the hours and times required to help make this happen. Kevin was touched to see the number of employees who turned out and worked with dedication to get the job done.  This is just one example of CCG employees having each other’s backs and putting the customer first.  As Kevin said, “The level of reliability and service that we bring to our clients would be impossible to match by any other company.”  Patty Bennett reiterated CCG’s dependability and dedication to its customers, saying “CCG has always produced the highest quality work. Servicing the customer needs is a priority and a must and CCG will go the extra mile to meet the customer’s schedule. Our customers become part of our family.” 

“CCG is truly a one-stop shop, with a variety of turnkey solutions for our clients.” -Bill Giles

              One of our most seasoned employees is Bill Giles, who has been with the company since 1982.  Bill has seen the company grow and change over the years, while thriving through several mergers and acquisitions.  Aside from CCG’s ability to change, adapt, and adopt new technology, one of the company’s best features is its wide array of marketing solutions.  As Bill explained to me, CCG is truly a one-stop shop, with a variety of turnkey solutions for our clients.  This intrigued me when I was first introduced to the company, but it has proven true.  I love being able to offer my customers a solution for every one of their marketing issues.  CCG prides itself on being dependable and available for all our customers’ needs.  #GotYourBack is more than just a moto, it becomes part of every interaction with our customers and with each other. 

              By Marley Niesz

CCG Celebrates Juneteenth

Juneteenth, commemorated each year on June 19th, honors the day that permanently ended slavery in the United States.  Although President Abraham Lincoln effectively ended slavery on January 1, 1863, certain confederate states such as Texas continued practicing the atrocity without much enforcement from state or federal government.  With a lack of Union troops in Texas, 250,000 African Americans remained enslaved until U.S. General Gordon Granger reached the state and proclaimed that, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”  The following year the freed Black community in Texas organized the first “Jubilee Day” which featured music, barbecues, prayer services, and other celebrations.  Soon after, the ideas and traditions of Juneteenth spread across the United States, and today it has become the longest running African American holiday.   For many African Americans, Juneteenth is celebrated as Independence Day each year.  CCG recognizes and commends the historical legacy of Juneteenth and the promise of hope it embodies for the African American community. 

By Marley Niesz

Corporate Communications Group: Named Best Workplace in the Americas 2020 Competition

Upper Marlboro, MD2/12/2020– Corporate Communications Group (CCG) of Upper Marlboro, MD has been awarded the Best Workplace designation in the 2020 Best Workplace in the Americas (BWA) awards competition. The BWA awards are awarded to companies that create the best environments for their employees. The BWA awards, presented by Printing Industries of America (PIA), is awarded annually to only those companies meeting rigorous standards in human resources practices.  This is the second year in a row that CCG has been recognized by the BWA Awards.

Being designated a Best Workplace company again demonstrates that CCG continues to commit to and invest in its employees. A panel of printing industry professionals evaluated applicants in three categories: Communications & Culture, Employee Resources & Benefits, and Safety & Work Environment.  CCG recognizes that exceptional workplaces better serve the needs of the company and its clients.

“CCG is one of the premier companies in the printing industry for employee experiences,” said Adriane Harrison, vice president of Human Relations at PIA. “This award is a testament to CCG’s leadership in developing an ‘employer of choice’ culture.”

“We are honored to again be recognized by the industry. Employees are a company’s greatest asset and we are fortunate to have a very talented group who deserve this recognition. They continue to foster a culture that encourages growth, support, and success for CCG,”

said Michael Marcian, Chief Executive Officer.

Michael F. Makin, president and CEO of PIA, agrees. “The Best Workplace in the Americas award winners stand among the most distinguished printing industry leaders by human resources standards. Congratulations to CCG for its outstanding achievement in human resources excellence.”

ABOUT WINNER

Corporate Communications Group (CCG) is the largest employee-owned print and graphic communications organization in the Mid-Atlantic region. With robust capabilities and technology, CCG focuses on serving the print and marketing communication needs of associations, direct marketers, corporations, higher-ed institutions, corporate, and special interest groups. For more information, visit www.ccgcreates.com.

ABOUT THE BEST WORKPLACE IN THE AMERICAS AWARDS

The Best Workplace in the Americas (BWA) awards, presented by Printing Industries of America (PIA), recognizes a company’s commitment to quality and excellence, passion for success, and dedication to providing a safety-focused work environment. For more information about the program, visit: www.printing.org/bwa.

Our New RICOH Pro VC70000 Inkjet!

And we’re live!

Running wide open with our first job on our brand new RICOH Pro VC70000 inkjet. 500 ft/minute = over 100,000 pages at full-color, and completely variable! Yes, you read that right – COMPLETELY VARIABLE. Bring it on! #SeriouslyCool #WideOpen #RicohRocks

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