YEAR IN REVIEW — 2006: BANTA ON THE LOOSE

THE 2006 printing industry campaign provided more than enough ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ to keep followers on the edge of their seats, including a summer blockbuster takeover attempt of Banta Corp. by Bob Burton and Cenveo Inc. And the subject of postal reform, which has festered for years without a resolution, appeared on the brink of falling to pieces at the last minute.

The M&A train seemed to pick up speed in 2006, though some parties managed to botch the due diligence aspect and instead land in court. Reorganization was in the air (unfortunately, so were job losses) and some of the biggest names in the industry changed addresses.

The last 12 months certainly haven’t lacked for drama. In January, we reported that Quebecor World sold five companies that no longer fit into its master plan, and those companies rebranded under the name MATLET. Most of the individual companies reclaimed their former ownership, led collectively by Gary Stiffler, president and CEO.

Veteran PIA/GATF public affairs crusader Ben Cooper departed the association after 27 years to, among other things, take the executive director role with The Print Council, an advocacy group supporting printed products.

Just a few months after Bob Burton’s group had taken control of Englewood, CO-based Cenveo, his long-time executive took the helm of the company. Thomas Oliva, who served tours with Burton at World Color and Moore Corp., was named president of Cenveo.

The industry suffered another fatality in mid-January when International Paper employee James “Larry” Merritt was killed when the debarking machine he was working on pinned and crushed him. The pneumatic cylinder Merritt was working on at IP’s Sampit Lumber Mill in Georgetown, SC, lowered and trapped him.

In February, the U.S. Senate joined the House of Representatives and finally passed its version of the postal reform bill, setting the stage for the two chambers to negotiate a single piece of legislation. But the issue is currently in the 11th hour, leaving reform in great peril.

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