So yesterday, Perry Judd’s was sold. That makes one more in a wave of printer mergers for 2006. It follows the merger of United Litho and Dartmouth Printing into Sheridan Magazine Services (they had been owned by Sheridan already—this merger marks the creation of a unified marketing brand. And in November, Donnelley acquired Banta.

This is the continuation of a wave of consolidation that has been occurring for years among printers, but I think it’s worth noting the passing of what was once a dominant company. When I started working at Folio: in the early nineties, Judd’s Printing was a dominant player. Based in Virginia, it had an image of being a stable player, a trustworthy straight shooter that was going to be there when its clients needed it to be. Its top sales executive, Howard Sullivan, was the perfect personification of this image—gracious, commanding, a person with quiet authority.

But Judd’s was on the back cover of every issue of Folio: in those days and probably well before that. They had an anchor position and spoke to the market with a compelling, simple, consistent message month after month.

When Perry Printing bought Judd’s in 1997, that changed. And eventually, the merged Perry-Judd’s became a non-entity in this space. I can’t remember the last time Perry-Judd’s did any advertising. It may be that Perry Judd’s continues to be a great printer for its existing customers, and it may be that the company did a lot of innovating. But it frankly was not engaged in the magazine industry. They didn’t attend shows—Folio:’s or others. It didn’t exhibit. It didn’t run ad schedules. It became invisible.

I wonder how much that particular marketing strategy had to do with this week’s announcement. I’ve blogged about this topic before, but thought this was worth noting.