2013 Year in Review: Neenah Leads with Innovation

Each year the io360 reaches out to hardware, supplies, and services businesses within the imaging industry for our annual year-in-review series. Sometimes, we stumble onto a new opportunity to interview a new-to-us business that has never participated in our year-in-review previously. This year, we interviewed Neenah Paper, a newcomer to our series, but a longstanding player in the premium, specialty, and sustainable paper market.

Neenah Paper was founded in 1873 in Neenah, WI. The company’s website emphasizes “a heritage that combines time-honored craftsmanship with advanced technology.” Last fall, Neenah was named the preferred media partner for HP Indigo digital presses, a testament to the firm’s commitment to excellence in media.

io360: The imaging industry is in the midst of a digital transformation. How is your company adjusting its business strategy to navigate the change in coming years?  Did you make any significant changes in 2013 to better align yourself with the market?

Neenah: Neenah is continually refining its business strategy to effectively navigate change and to support the fast paced growth of the Neenah Digital platform. To better align with the market and strengthen our resources, Greg Maze is now our Senior Brand Manager for Digital, responsible for the marketing and implementation of our Neenah Digital strategy.  In addition, Ross Van Burkleo is now our dedicated Digital Sales Manager, providing internal and external sales and training resource for the market.

io360: As the industry shifts, it will be essential for organizations to do more than sell products, but to offer services around those products as well? How is your company navigating the shift to becoming a services-led organization? What challenges do you still face?

Neenah: Neenah believes the ease of doing business and being best-in-class remain the cornerstones for the new digital market.  We continue to be a service leader with best-in-class digital products, marketing, and distribution, which will help us navigate the ever-changing market place.

io360: Realigning an organization takes time and a strong vision. What is your leadership team doing to help align all levels of employees as the company navigates the changing market?

Neenah: The team of digital resources, with leadership coming from people like Greg and Ross, will help direct the passion that is in every Neenah commercial sales rep to handle the challenges of the digital market.  The continuing education and evaluation of emerging markets will help Neenah succeed with the resources and talent that is in place.

io360: What key decision was the most advancing for your organization this year?

Neenah: Neenah is proud of all our partnerships across all channels.  Another shared partnership for Neenah Paper is the HP Indigo Preferred Media Partner we were honored to receive last year.  Neenah offers more HP certified papers than anyone else in the world.  Neenah’s proven track record to create and deliver products that meet and exceed the most exacting standards in digital printing is one of the many reasons that HP sees Neenah as a leader in the digital market.

io360: What trends are you most closely following? What recent advances in that particular trend is your company most excited about?

Neenah: Innovation will be the driver that will keep print growing especially with all the new digital print technologies.  The need for intimacy with the printed piece will continue and is not often achieved by the web, computer or mobile device.  The need for digital papers and adding that dimension for the reader is what Neenah Paper is excited to play a part in that experience.  Neenah offers unique weights, textures and finishes that help digital printed pieces say much more than just the image or words that are on printed on it.

io360: What are you most excited about in 2014?

Neenah: The exciting part in 2014 will be all the new application based papers that we will introduce to market.  Neenah Digital Papers will help designers, specifiers, and printers to offer unique textured, color and durable papers using Neenah Paper already recognizable brands.

io360: What product release was the most exciting for your company this year? How does this product provide a distinct position in the market for your firm?

Neenah: The Gruppo Cordenons offering of digital products were one of the many drivers in 2013 for our digital sales.  The pearlized offerings especially during the seasonal times were key for digital customers to make an impact with their clients.  We will continue to strive to introduce impressive and sustainable digital choices with the upcoming re-launch of Environment early in 2014.  I wish I could share all of the other product launches in store for digital, but you will have to just wait and check them out at www.neenahpaper.com!

io360: What products/product segments showed the strongest growth for you in 2013? Which ones do you anticipate will continue to grow in 2014?

Neenah: Digital paper, label, and packaging were clearly the strongest growth segments for Neenah Paper in 2013.  We anticipate that this trend will continue in to the New Year.

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