In June, National Envelope, the country’s largest envelope maker, filed for bankruptcy. The filing was its second in three years. And while this didn’t make international headlines or start trending on Twitter, it’s pretty big news for the print world.

Envelopes have always driven printing. Because printers don’t usually produce envelopes ourselves, we’ve always been constrained by their dimensions, availability, and price.

Now, National Envelope is hoping to sell its assets to the highest bidder. We don’t think this is a fluke. As the once-ruler of the market goes south, smaller regional envelope companies continue to thrive.

Customization is king

This is probably the result of many factors, including decreased reliance on paper for government and finance-related communications. But it also has to do with a growing preference for customization. By now, businesses know they can reach customers more cheaply through email or social media. So if they’re going to devote time and money to a direct mail campaign, they want it done right, complete with the unique look of their brand.

And these days, custom envelopes are an easy addition to a company’s brand collateral. Printers can create made-to-order envelope sizing, add custom window cutouts, use image wrapping and embossing techniques, and print recipient address labels perfectly in-brand. At Oregon, we work with boutique envelope converters to get the pieces our clients need. As options go, the sky’s the limit (as long as pieces meet postal regulations, that is).

Small and specialized wins the race

It’s not that nobody’s doing mass mailings anymore. But market trends increasingly suggest that bigger isn’t always better—and smaller, targeted messages are starting to win out. When consumers are getting hit with marketing messages from all channels, it’s no surprise that they respond best to communications personalized for them.

And while we’re never happy to hear about print industry slowdowns, National Envelope’s decline could actually be a good sign for smaller print shops. We’ve always specialized in smaller runs, so it’s easier for us to adjust to shifting demands.

Plus, this trend suggests that we don’t need to worry about being “big.” To us, success is measured in more than number of sheets printed or mail pieces sent. It’s in combining our strengths in customization, data, and project management to give our clients exactly what they want—not just what’s easiest to produce.

Time will determine National Envelope’s fate. In the meantime, we’ll stay focused on the small print runs we’re known for. They’ve brought us this far, and we think they’ll keep us in the game.

Working on a custom project of your own? Oregon can help you bring it to life.