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Fast-Track Firms -- Greener Pastures

December 2005
by chris bauer

Managing Editor

If just looking at the sales figures of the top 400 printers in North America can tell us anything, 2005 has been a pretty good reporting year for the printing industry. Of the 400 companies on our annual list, 258 have seen an increase in sales for the past fiscal year. Additionally, 125 of those 258 have seen double-digit increases. Not bad for an industry some have pegged as gasping for its last breath.

Here is a look at some printing firms that are on the fast track to success—and details on how they are getting to the front of the pack.

doodad

Austell, GA

Most Recent Fiscal Year Sales: $63 million

Previous Fiscal Year Sales: $53 million

Percentage Change: 19 percent

Change has been a constant for doodad in recent years. The former KAR Printing not only changed its name, it has also added locations, focused on expanding its production capabilities and emphasized to customers the key points of its competitive differentiation.

"Our customers (shared mail marketers and newspapers) are chasing ad dollars that could just as easily be spent in other forms of media," remarks Tom McCloskey, COO. "In order to help them be successful, we have to be particularly relevant to them in terms of product scope and depth, cycle times and knowledge leadership."

McCloskey reports that a high percentage of doodad's capital budget is dedicated to supporting a larger national footprint. The company purchased two additional locations—one in Wisconsin at the end of 2003 and one in Indiana in mid-2005—that allows doodad to compress cycle times, as well as provide redundant capacity and the capability to back up existing plants.

"Beyond that, we've spent a lot of time and money on the front end of the order cycle," McCloskey adds. "For instance, we worked together with our largest customer to reduce cycle times from five-seven days down to three days, including transit."

That involved creating a proprietary electronic interface—dubbed Firefly—that grabs orders directly from doodad's customer, imports them into its ERP system and actually plans the ganged forms without much in the way of human intervention.

As for the name change, McCloskey says it is just one component of doodad's broader goal of creating a brand.

"I think we are well on our way to a time that, when people hear 'doodad,' they immediately think of this nimble company that helps them do their jobs easier and better—and just happens to be a printer," he contends. "We wanted a name that had a general connotation of being accessible and friendly, but at the same time not so well positioned in most people's minds to prevent us from linking it with our particular business."
 

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