CONSOLIDATED GRAPHICS — The Art of Acquisition

Fresh, intensity-riddled faces swarmed the lobby of the Houstonian Hotel, most of them young enough to appear in auditions for an MTV reality show. But aspiring actors these youngsters were not–they hoped to become role players in the ever-growing printing industry dynasty best known by its stock symbol: CGX.

It was late July, and the sixth annual Consolidated Graphics (CGX) National Associates Meeting was in full swing. Despite the fact that most of the participants’ drivers licenses indicated a birth date in the 1980s, these participants boasted a confidence, an eager aggressiveness and a tireless optimism regarding their present and future roles with the company.

Chairman and CEO Joe Davis, who had his misgivings about such a gathering heading into the first meeting in 2000, is awed at the timber of participants in the 2005 crop.

“Based on their presentations, I’m really impressed with the quality of the 24- and 25-year-olds we have in this group,” Davis says during a time out from the individual breakout sessions. “When I was 24 or 25, I was not at a level quite that good, I can assure you.”

If Davis was behind the lead pack at any point in time, suffice it to say he has since picked up the pace. He is the leader of an $873 million a year printing empire. Davis was M&A when M&A wasn’t cool. When the capital venture posers decided to latch on to the printing world, Davis kept his head, his game plan and strategic footprint in place. Before long, the best of the rest that M&A had to offer floundered and foundered.

Not Everything Changes

There’s no remorse associated with an acquisition by Consolidated Graphics, no icky feeling that would prompt a company to change its name. In fact, keep your name; CGX likes it as much as they like the management team that was in place beforehand.

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