DS Graphics: Helping Clients Do More

The Pallis family has taken a robust, active approach toward building up DS Graphics through both equipment additions and acquisitions of complementary businesses. Shown, from the left, are the Pallis Five: John, Jeff, Jessica (Pallis) Williams, Jay and Justin.

The Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 105 can handle a variety of substrates, from 24-pt. board for packaging jobs to 60-lb. gloss coated stock for four-over-four commodity book work.

A Kolbus KM600 perfect binder is one highlight of an expansive and aggressive capital expenditure program undertaken by DS Graphics.

“We’re committed to the industry, and printing is still generating 50 percent to 60 percent of our revenues,” he says. “We’re finding that the more efficient we can become as a company, the better it is for both our clients and for our profitability. The efficiencies and quality controls built into the Speedmaster XL 105 are making us more efficient. That’s why we’ve been aggressively upgrading every aspect of our company.”

DS Graphics has constantly evolved since its 1974 founding by Jim Pallis as a commercial shop. The company thrived by doing work in the computer hardware space in the 1980s and, in the following decade, refocused on inventory management and fulfillment. At the dawn of the new millennium, it became clear that digital printing and mailing services would enable DS Graphics to continue its growth.

Today, the New England firm boasts nearly 200 employees with roughly 180,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Its client verticals include publishing, software, advertising, medical, higher education and non-profit spaces. Revenues check in north of the $30 million plateau, and given DS Graphics’ penchant for successfully following market trends, the odds of further growth are strong.

Jeff and Jay Pallis—Jeff’s brother and company CFO—have acquired several businesses that have bona fide track records in market sectors that complement and build upon DS Graphics’ game plan. In 2006, they acquired print-and-mail specialist Fidelity Communications, which boasted variable data expertise and a large mailing footprint. A couple of other smaller transactions followed and, along the way, DS Graphics developed its own formula for evaluating possible acquisitions.

Doing Whatever it Takes

Still, there wasn’t anything in that master plan covering high-speed due diligence. Last summer, when Jeff read in the trade press that the former LaVigne Inc. would be going up for auction, DS Graphics’ brain trust had little time to get acquainted with the particulars of the $6 million business. It needed to submit a deposit in order to just get into the Chapter 265 bankruptcy bidding process, and would have to qualify with a strong balance sheet and be able to close on the deal within 24 hours. Piece of cake.

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