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Fast-Track Firms : Bucking the Trends

December 2009 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor

AS THE most challenging year since the Great Depression comes to a close, many executives and employees of printing companies across the nation are drawing a deep breath and exhaling. Well, maybe not everyone is exhaling, but a good many people are just happy to still have their jobs.

Here at the headquarters of Printing Impressions, perhaps the one question on everyone's mind was: Could we still pull off a Top 400 list? After all, we once listed 500 companies; but the consolidation wave of the late 1990s/early 2000s thinned out the herd considerably, prompting us to dial back on our ranking. The fear this time around was that privately held companies might be discouraged from participating due to poor financial performances.

One thing's for certain: If your company posted a negative percent growth change year-over-year, you are not alone. In fact, of the 400 printers on the 2009 edition of the PI 400 list, 63 percent of the firms came in below their previous year's sales figures. In reality, next year's list should be in worse shape, since the current sales figures represent the most recent fiscal year completed, which is Dec. 31, 2008, or June 30, 2009, for most companies.

Fear not, for this list isn't going away, and neither are you! We have assembled a trio of printer profiles detailing the positive year-over-year growth enjoyed by these establishments. They're living proof that, no matter how tough times can get, there are always those companies who can see their way clear to prosperity.

Suttle-Straus Inc.
Waunakee, WI
Most Recent Fiscal Year Sales: $54.32 million
Previous Fiscal Year Sales: $47.55 million
Change: 14 Percent

The adage goes that when you sprinkle business across a number of market and product sectors, there is less chance of being caught completely flat-footed—and vulnerable—should one of them go away. Suttle-Straus is one such company that doesn't overflow any one basket with its eggs: the company provides sheetfed, web and digital printing, along with mailing and fulfillment, for its largely telecom and insurance customer base.

"We're fairly well-diversified," says John Berthelsen, president and CEO of Suttle-Straus. "While printing is still the main core of our business, our diversified range of products and services has allowed us to maintain growth and stability."

Suttle-Straus has a number of large clients that utilize all of the printer's capabilities, essentially single-sourcing agreements. This speaks to customers' growing desires to cut down the number of vendors they're dealing with, according to Berthelsen.

 

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