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Detroit Businessman Buys Wintor-Swan

December 1998
DETROIT—Local businessman Elbert Clark has purchased Wintor-Swan Associates—making it, Clark says, the largest African-American-owned commercial printer in the United States.

"I feel privileged to be in the position I am in, and I appreciate the chance as well as the opportunity to come into the industry as I did. The overall response has been more than encouraging," Clark states.

With 27 years of experience in commercial banking, investment underwriting and manufac- turing, Clark has calmly waited "for the opportunity to become the owner of his own company," and looked no further than with Wintor-Swan, a well-known Motor City company with a solid reputation.

Prior to taking over Wintor-Swan, Clark was managing director of the Detroit Investment Fund (DIF), a fund established by Detroit Renaissance, which develops moderate risk investments in small- and medium-sized Detroit companies. Prior to DIF, Clark worked for Focus:Hope and NBD Bank.

"There is a lot of untapped business here," says Clark. "I am certain with the combination of our experienced staff and through the application of sound business discipline and direction we can, undoubtedly, take the business to levels beyond those experienced in 1994."

David Swantek, who taught printing at Macomb Community College, launched the printing operation in 1971 on a $270 duplicator machine. Shortly thereafter, Swantek went into partnership with one of his students, Lyle Whitton, thus the official birth of Wintor-Swan.

The company relocated to Detroit in 1974 and, eventually, sales would grow to be as large as $35 million in 1994. However, Kmart, its biggest customer at the time, cancelled a major part of the work it was ordering, which cut hard into the company's yearly sales.

Clark believes an aggressive marketing campaign is going to help boost the company back to and beyond those 1994 sales levels. "Wintor-Swan has the equipment and capability to do that level of business again. By bringing all of the company's components together as one, instilling high morale, and letting people know what is expected and what is needed to do a good job, we will once again see those figures," notes Clark, while also mentioning the confindence he has in the company's employees. Today, Wintor-Swan employs 165 and has sales estimated to be $22 million.

In recent months, Wintor-Swan has printed jobs that included a national atlas for National Geographic magazine, and both General Motors' and Kmart's annual reports. Particular effort has gone into developing larger relationships with both General Motors and Comerica.

"Because of the excellent quality the company is known for, we believe an expanded marketing effort will produce a steady rise in sales," Clark asserts. "By continuing to understand what is going on right now within the printing industry, and by staying mindful of how and where the market is changing, Wintor-Swan has a strong future ahead."

Under the terms of the purchase agreement, both Swantek and Whitton are to remain with the company in an advisory capacity for two years. Swantek commented on the latest change by stating, "We are pleased that a business man with Elbert Clark's experience is taking over the company. His extensive experience in analyzing businesses should give him a solid background with which to begin his ownership of Wintor-Swan."

By A. L. Ruslavage


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