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Rider Dickerson — Roommate Wanted

September 2007 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
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IT WASN’T all that long ago that it was considered taboo for a man and a woman to cohabit prior to marriage. But times have changed and, despite disapproving nods from conservative circles, the alarmingly high U.S. divorce rate lends some credibility to the notion of a “test run” before taking a stab at holy matrimony.

What in tarnation does that have to do with commercial printing? you ask. Well, there’s a situation in the Chicago suburbs where two printing companies are enjoying the fruits of consolidation without taking the M&A plunge. It actually turned into a marriage of convenience, and the relationship, if anything, seems to be growing stronger.

The situation arose not long ago, when Rider Dickerson—a century-old printer based in Chicago’s South Loop along Clark Street on the once famed “Printers Row”—received notice that the building it had called home for many years had been sold for conversion into student housing for downtown universities. Bill Barta, president and CEO, wasn’t at all surprised, since real estate in the Windy City had become cost-prohibitive for many manufacturing sectors. Printers Row had become anything but that, with many of the old occupants having moved on.

No More Printers Row

“Originally, we wanted to stay in the city, but couldn’t find adequate space for what we needed,” Barta remarks. “We wanted to be able to expand. On Clark Street, we operated on several different floors, which is not the most efficient workflow for a printing company. Ideally, you want to be on one floor.”

Fortunately, Barta found 85,000 square feet of available space in nearby Bellwood, IL, a huge upgrade over the 50,000 square feet spaced out over several floors on Clark Street. There was just one catch: The Bellwood plant already had an occupant, and it was a printer, no less. Two printers would seem to be more than 815 25th Ave. could handle.

That wasn’t the case. Rider Dickerson moved in alongside large-format sheetfed specialist Sleepeck—another printer with more than 100 years under its belt—in March with a legal agreement to share certain costs. There wasn’t a merger agreement, definitive or otherwise, to be found. Yet the companies now leverage their complementary product and service capabilities. Rider Dickerson can enjoy providing Sleepeck’s in-store/show floor standees or book components to its customer base, while Sleepeck can go deeper with its own clients by offering them brochures, catalogs and direct mail printing.

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