Weighing the cost of paper prices

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There's one thing on the mind of Rich Zweiback, VP-manufacturing at Lebhar-Friedman: paper.

MB: Are you in the midst of negotiations?

Zweiback: Yes, we're trying to finalize prices for next year, but no paper companies are willing to lock in. I don't think they know what the market price will be in January. So we're also looking into alternatives.

MB: Such as?

Zweiback: High-bulk, changing our basis weight, looking at off-shore producers and European companies-anything to save us money and still keep our quality high. Most publishers hope that the loyalty they've given to suppliers over the years will be rewarded now. Things are cyclical. What you give now, you get later. We never try to burn our suppliers, and we hope they feel the same about us.

MB: Why the sudden rush upward in paper prices?

Zweiback: Postage is going up in 2006 and this is their opportunity to get their increases in. Once USPS announces their potential increases, it could affect everybody's perception of where the business is.

MB: How are you preparing for the potential postage increase?

Zweiback: We're trying to take advantage of any potential postal discounts with regard to co-mailing, co-palletization, etc., and seeing if there's any savings that can be experienced through that now with an eye toward 2006. I feel that then the post office will reward those that can make their mailing operations most efficient and potentially penalize those who don't.

-Mark J. Miller

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