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A Master Salesman

November 1999 By Marie Ranoia Alonso
Todd Abrams created Empire Graphics in 1991. He sold it in 1999. In the intervening years, Abrams turned a small printing brokerage firm into one New York printer slick enough to catch the eye of industry consolidator, Integrated Graphics.

Empire, growing to 75 employees over its eight-year existence, skyrocketed to become one of INC. Magazine's "Fastest Growing Companies" for two years straight.

Empire also snared the "Growth Company of the Year Award" for 1998 given by the New York City Chamber of Commerce.

So very attractive was Empire Graphics as a printing commodity that, in February of this year, Empire became a part of the Integrated Graphics group of printing companies.

What's Abrams' secret?

Why did he sell his company—what were the compelling reasons behind this well-recognized New York entrepreneur's decision to point his company in an Integrated Graphics direction? And how did Abrams build his company so fast, so successfully? Was it management style, or a commitment to investing in the latest digital technologies? Was it a smart sales staff, or a particularly talented pressroom?

Recently, Abrams met with Printing Impressions. The purpose: Share the wealth—rather, share the knowledge.

Intensely approachable, Abrams clued Printing Impressions in on how he orchestrated Empire Graphics' accent. He also shared his views on investing in digital technologies, marketing business capabilities and positioning for greater territories, the likes of Integrated Graphics.

PI: When you started Empire Graphics, what were your objectives? What was the company like the first year?

Abrams: We wanted to take an opportunity and grow with it. After five years, we were presented with the ability to buy an existing trade operation in the heart of the "new communications" district. Our objectives were to change the workflow to a more direct sales approach and attract new salespeople, production people and clients. We also wanted to maintain the strong relationships we had developed throughout the trade. The first year I started the company, the entire operation was in a room that was barely big enough to hold a desk, phone and fax machine, with $20,000 in the bank and lots of ideas on how to be a successful print broker.

PI: As the company grew from a print brokerage firm to a digital prepress provider and a printer itself, what digital technologies did you invest in? Also, what is your opinion of digital investments—and marketing those investments to your customer base?
 

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