FAST-TRACK FIRMS – Filling the Piggy Bank

Is commercial printing a dying industry? By looking at the boom in sales figures reported by some printers this year, the answer is a resounding no.


Looking for the answer of how to boost your annual sales by 20, 40, even 60 percent or more? Does that sort of annual revenue growth seem impossible? This might sound like some late-night infomercial, but it can be done. Several firms on this year’s Printing Impressions 400 have reported tremendous sales growth in their most recent fiscal year. These are the movers and shakers of the printing industry.

Sales figures can explode as a result of acquisitions, new technology, new equipment, better sales and marketing strategies, or all of the above. Although it seems that the number of mergers and acquisitions have slowed in the past year, M&A activity still appears to be a big factor when it comes to the printing industry’s “fast-track firms.”

“Our business has expanded dramatically primarily through acquisitions,” explains Gerald Mahoney, chairman and CEO of Englewood, CO-based Mail-Well. “We have also been successful in recruiting aggressive salespeople, which has allowed us to grow internally.”

Mail-Well, which boasts sales of $2.4 billion for its most recent fiscal year, up 23 percent from $1.95 billion the previous year, now has 16,000 employees at more than 140 plants, running a decentralized organization. But even with its expanded size and sales power, Mahoney reports facing the same challenges of smaller organizations.

“It is always a challenge to make sure we have the right people in place to make the important, day-to-day decisions,” Mahoney explains. “As we have grown, we have added employees, but it is difficult to recruit employees to the printing industry in this tight labor market.”

One sure-fire way to boost your sales numbers is to buy up the competition. This is what financial printing stalwart Burrups Packard did earlier this year. Burrups Packard is the U.S.-based financial printing unit of London-based St. Ives plc and Burrups Ltd., Europe’s largest printing group. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Packard acquired Global Financial Press of New York, its long-time competitor.

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