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A Bullish Bowne

May 2000
This financial printing stalwart embraces change and adopts cutting-edge technologies.


Back in 1775, when the rumblings of a young nation were only just beginning, a modest dry goods store in New York City called Bowne & Co. was trying to make a name for itself.

Unless you haven't read a newspaper or picked up a book in the last 225 years, you know the United States grew up through some drastic changes, dispatching the British forces, expanding to the West Coast and fending off enemies in two World Wars and numerous, smaller skirmishes. There was an industrial age, the first car rolled through town and our friend, the television set, began to raise America's youth.

Condensing 225 years of history into one paragraph is impossible, if not incomplete. Change, oddly enough, has been the one constant that has kept this country viable. So, too, has change allowed Bowne & Co. to survive for 225 years. From dry goods to commercial printing to financial printing, and now all the different modes of transmitting communication and information, Bowne & Co. has remained ahead of the competition by not being behind the times. After all, Bowne did not earn a name for itself by offering the same musket powder it had in 1775.

"Bowne was here during the American Revolution, witnessed the Industrial Revolution and now we're becoming very involved with the Information Revolution—the information age—and that's what is testing all printing firms today," states Kenneth W. Swanson, senior vice president, financial print manufacturing. "Our board of directors made a strategic decision to diversify Bowne so we'd be able to provide our customers with the types of tools they're going to need to communicate with their customers in the future.

"In essence, Bowne is in the process of changing itself once again in response to the rapidly changing marketplace," he adds.

Bowne & Co. still maintains its NYC roots and has managed to spread itself across the country—and around the world. That diversification led to the creation of five business units under a company umbrella that generated just over $1 billion in 1999, $700 million of which was derived from its financial printing unit, making Bowne & Co. the world's leading printer of financial documents. The other four units that comprise Bowne are Business Solutions, Internet Solutions, Global Solutions and Digital Solutions. The following is a brief look at each of the four units:

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