And for good reason. Instead of investing in new equipment, then looking for work to fit the subsequent services, Cunningham Graphics has tailored itself to fit its customers’ needs. “We make capital decisions with clients,” reveals Gordon Mays, executive vice president. “We see where their work is going, and then we develop our systems around that.”

Building the Perfect Team

While customer support has been crucial to Cunningham Graphics’ rapid ascent, Michael Cunningham—who serves as president, chairman and CEO—also credits his managers for making the company what it is today. “The more I’ve delegated,” Cunningham says, “the more I’ve realized that our key managers make real good decisions—better decisions than I would make in the line of fire.”

One of the first managers Cunningham selected was Mays. Back in the ’80s, Mays competed with Cunningham for different accounts. That all changed when Cunningham became a manufacturer. Mays, who admired Cunningham’s move, got to make the move himself when Cunningham invited him to become a partner in the new company.

Another key player is COO Robert Needle, a former client. “Robert realized we were the best at what we did,” Cunningham says, “and he wanted to join a winning team. We also realized that he was the best at what he did.”

Rounding out the Cunningham management team is CFO Robert Okin, the latest addition. Okin came on board shortly after Cunningham Graphics’ IPO in April.

A third generation printer with 25 years of experience, Okin is an expert in the area of M&As—and gaining capital for acquisitions was a driving force behind the IPO.

“As a private company, we couldn’t afford Bob Okin and his expertise,” Cunningham admits. “But when he decided to take the company public, we decided that we couldn’t afford not to have him.”

As Okin’s hiring proves, Cunningham Graphics’ publicly held status provides a powerful perk for drawing top talent. Specifically, the company can now lure potential staff with stock options.

Related Content