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2011 Hall of Famers: In A Class by Themselves –Michelson

September 2011

Often, it's a fine line that separates the "best" from the rest. Some leaders seem to have an extra gear, able to shift into overdrive when the going gets tough. Others possess an innate sense of timing. They know just when to pull the trigger on a major business decision, and when their companies need to alter course in response to prevailing winds swirling amidst a sea of change. By the same token, leaders realize that they cannot achieve success alone, and thus adhere to the philosophy of empowering their employees and not micromanaging. The 2011 induction class into the Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame illustrates these winning traits—and how they've resulted in both their individual, and overall company, success.

Take Mike Panaggio, CEO of DME. His firm pioneered the use of integrated marketing campaigns long before marketing services provider became the phrase du jour in the commercial printing world. Panaggio still thrives on innovation and change, and encourages that same mind set throughout his organization. And, after selling one offshoot and a half share of another portion of his business for a cool $54 million, he remains driven to lead DME to even greater heights. Today, DME's 2,500 online products such as personalized gift wrap, printed special occasion keepsakes and photo books, join Website design, sports marketing and in-house creative and multimedia services, to name just a few.

Or consider Ken Kaufman, a 40-year industry veteran who has reinvented his pursuits several times. He sold his business to Corporate Press in 2008, but remains onboard as president. Armed with a masters degree in journalism, Kaufman found himself in the newsletter publishing business. Unable to find printers that could meet his last-minute copy deadlines, he opted to start printing them—and ultimately newsletters for fellow publishers—himself. His business shifted to direct mail jobs in the mid-'90s as the newsletter work softened. The synergies between his direct mail clientele, and Corporate Press' sheetfed offset and digital printing capabilities, proved a perfect fit for the combined business to expand into cross-media marketing services. Now 70, Kaufman's business lexicon has morphed into newer technologies like QR codes, PURLs and Web-to-print portals.

Finding a perfect partner was also critical in the rise of Classic Graphics, co-founded by David Pitts and Bill Gardner. Pitts credits Gardner's strong people and motivational skills as the perfect complement to his technical and financial management strengths. The tandem have successfully grown the company from a fledgling business with a used camera, press and paper cutter in 1983 into a $50 million performer known for its financial discipline, process controls and best practices.

And don't forget Joel Quadracci, chairman, president and CEO of Quad/Graphics—the fourth member of the Quadracci clan (his father, grandfather and uncle) to enter the Hall of Fame. When I notified Joel that he had been chosen by the judges to be inducted, he responded, "At age 42, aren't I too young?" I reminded him how he has already faced a lifetime's worth of challenges and victories in his two decades spent working at Quad. Joel has admirably filled the shoes of his late father, Harry V., who was bigger than life. Last year alone, he engineered the biggest acquisition (Quebecor/Worldcolor) ever made within the U.S. printing industry and took the 25,000 employee-strong company public. If that doesn't qualify for wisdom gained beyond one's age, I don't know what more could. PI

–Mark T. Michelson


 

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