Setting up a contract to purchase paper direct

Answered by Richard Chapel, Director of Corporate Communications, Fraser Papers, Inc.

I'm a new buyer and have two contracts that will expire soon: one for printing and one for buying the paper for a 56 pg., full-color publication with a 2.5 million print run. How many paper merchants should I consider for this contract? If I find one that I like, how do I go about getting the paper tested?

You may wish to award the print contract first. Since you already have a printing contract developed, you will want to extend the courtesy of a Request for Quotation (RFQ) to your current printer and to several others equipped to handle this job. In your RFQ to your printers, make it clear that you will be contracting for the paper separately and that the printer selected will be expected to conduct test runs on the paper you are considering. You should also consider asking the printer to recommend which papers will meet your specifications because they are in a position to know what runs best on their presses. On a job this size, press efficiency and minimizing paper waste is an important cost factor.

Since you also have a previous paper contract to work with, your current paper merchant should be invited to bid with the understanding that you are inviting other paper merchants to quote on the business. There is no standard number of bids to solicit. You may wish to include the merchants suggested by your selected printer. The merchants you invite to bid should have experience with the paper grade you are using and a good technical relationship with the paper companies they represent. Each bidder should be asked to supply a test supply of paper in conjunction with their bid. This is standard operating procedure with a job of this size. The print test and the paper for it should be part of the bidding process.
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