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COURIER CORP. -- Textbook Example

October 2003
By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor

Although the company itself is 179 years old, Courier Corp. has the vitality of a teenager.

The North Chelmsford, MA-based book printer found the fountain of youth courtesy of a comprehensive strategic planning process that began in 1990 and provided Courier with a sleek, sexy and, most of all, fiscally lucrative overhaul. The publicly held printer shed a number of markets, and the company that once published newspapers and dabbled in commercial work narrowed its focus to three book manufacturing segments—education, religious and specialty trade.

The results have been outstanding. Through the first nine months of 2003, Courier has enjoyed its finest third quarter and three quarter performance in its history. Nine month sales stood at $148.5 million, on the heels of a four-year, $50 million capital investment initiative culminating with the 2002 launch of its FastPath Web-based front end tool and the fiscal 2004 first quarter installation of a four-color MAN Roland Lithoman IV web press at its Kendallville, IN, facility.

Pictured are the Courier Corp. executive team of (seated, from left) Peter Conway, vice president of sales; James Conway III, chairman and CEO; and Gary Gluckow, president, Book-mart Press. Standing (from left) are Stephen Franzino, vice president of technology; and Peter Tobin, executive vice president.
A pair of Massachusetts-based manufacturing plants, in Stoughton and Westford, complements Kendallville. National Publishing of Philadelphia adds a lightweight paper printing and binding component to go with Book-mart Press, a short- to medium-run book printer in North Bergen, NJ. Dover Publications, a former Courier publishing client for more than 50 years, was acquired three years ago to add yet another facet to the company's arsenal.

"For the last 10 to 15 years, our goal has been to become the top service provider in the industry," notes James F. Conway III, chairman and CEO of Courier Corp. "We've worked hard to speed up the manufacturing process so that our customers get their product efficiently. Our job is to help our clients be successful and, should they have any last-minute changes or product quantity shifts, to be responsive to those needs.

"One of our greatest advantages is that we're solely focused on three major book markets," Conway adds. "All we do is books, not periodicals or commercial work. Our publishing clients really appreciate that strong market focus."

The introduction of FastPath last year underscored the company's dedication to dramatically reducing product turnaround times via a streamlined, problem-sleuthing Web tool for file transfers. Its three components—Status Check, File Check and Proof Check—have removed an abundance of front-end headaches for the publisher and made product delivery easier for the printer, according to Steve Franzino, vice president of technology.
 

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