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Chris Cooke's picture

Did I mention that print is dead?

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 13:36 -- Chris Cooke

As I write this I’m in Omaha, Nebraska.

It is the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway and I came to hear what Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger have to say about the price of oil, inflation and the general economy. I own Berkshire Hathaway shares and Buffett and Munger are the gurus of American commerce. They are old. They are smart. And they are rich. I’m neither smart nor rich. Just old.

I came here to get away. I’m meeting with a friend, Tim Stevens who owns a printing company in Astoria, Illinois. Coming to Omaha to see Buffett and Munger is apparently on his bucket list. It isn’t on mine. For me it’s just an opportunity to get away.

I have a lot on my mind these days. Since a competitor shutdown we’ve been overwhelmed with new business. So much so we have business farmed out at printing plants in Chicago and Troy, Michigan.

We just can’t do it all in Wyoming, Ontario. Our people are frazzled. I have managers screaming at me to stop selling, to stop bringing in work. We have a big pie and apparently too much pie is not a good thing.

So, here I’m in Omaha.  Thinking.

To make matters worse we have been having visits from the Provincial Labour Ministry. We had a visit from an ergonomics engineer last week. Next week an engineer is recommending more guarding for our new heat set presses that will supposedly make us safer but substantially less efficient.

Did I mention we have a wellness committee and haven’t had an incident in years?

So, here I’m in Omaha. Thinking.

In the past week a marketing company in Findlay has approached us about selling out. A Toronto insert company also wants to buy us.

I’m 70 this year. I drive 100,000 kilometres a year, work 80 hours a week, haven’t any hobbies and I hate golf. I go to Sanibel Island, Florida occasionally to get away from it all.

This time it’s Omaha. I’m thinking.

Did I tell you my competitor in Chicago who is doing our overflow work wants to buy us? Yesterday we discussed money and he will be back to me next week. Apparently we have a big pie and he would like some or all of it. He wants to buy us at a time when our employees are overwhelmed, my plant manager emails me constantly and the Labour Ministry has come knocking.

Did I tell you print is dead?

I’m in Omaha. I’m thinking.

Maybe Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger can help.

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