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The Bureau : (Grand)Mother of Diversity

February 2011 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
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In late 2010, Minneapolis-based commercial printer The Bureau was officially recognized with Women's Business Enterprise Certification (WBENC) as a woman-owned, operated and controlled business. For anyone familiar with the back story of The Bureau—and its century-plus span of female involvement—it hardly comes as news.

That's not a knock against the leadership of Chairwoman and CEO Lynne Alexander, who presided over a 15 percent growth spurt last year, at a time when many companies were declaring victory with flat year-over-year growth. On the contrary, Alexander has positioned the 113-year-old firm well for the future, backed by a $7 million capital expenditure initiative that includes a six-color, 73˝ manroland 900 XXL large-format sheetfed press with in-line aqueous coater as its centerpiece.

Truth be known, The Bureau is The Forerunner in diversity. Alexander's great-grandmother, Henrietta Buckbee, loaned money to the company (The Bureau of Engraving) at the turn of the 20th century. In fact, she sold her jewels to provide capital for the firm at the time of its incorporation. Thus, Mrs. Buckbee was one of the largest shareholders in the company nearly 20 years before women had even gained the right to vote.

No Hiring Quotas

According to Alexander, incorporating a progressive workforce with females and minorities was never a contrived or trendy decision. The majority of board members are female, and a majority of the seven new management positions and nine new employee hires are females/minorities. Even so, the progressive staff is naturally occurring as opposed to a targeted quota.

"We're fortunate to hire the best talent and then hang on to them," she says. "We foster an environment that The Bureau is a good place to work, so we attract top candidates, male or female, regardless of race."

Patrick Stuart, vice president of marketing, notes that he has had mostly female managers throughout his career. "Our company has always had a strong, diverse presence in the workplace and really bucked the trend of the printing industry as a heavily male-dominated environment," he says.

That the company is now in its sixth generation of ownership, and still thriving as a printing concern, is a major coup on two counts. It has long been said that any company that has been able to endure decades of sometimes tumultuous fiscal and technological upheaval has earned that right by not clinging tightly to tradition. What's tried and true is a moving target, and The Bureau is no exception as it has carefully mapped out and diagnosed the evolving needs of its customers and the means used to effectively reach that end-user base.


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