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Fast-Track Firms--Leaps and Bounds

December 1999
Acquisitions, technology investments and the development of new market niches. Take a look at how Cunningham Graphics Int'l and Nationwide Graphics are employing these and other aggressive measures to grow their companies rapidly.


Printing is an industry of giants. Multi-million-dollar organizations, operating billions of dollars worth of collective technologies, employing hundreds of thousands, serving the varied needs of millions of consumers. This is your world. A world of entrepreneurs who realize the importance of customer service, employee recognition and technology investments, as well as the ability to satisfy Wall Street financial analysts.

This is also the world of Michael Cunningham, president and CEO of Cunningham Graphics International, and Carl Norton, chairman and CEO of Nationwide Graphics—two commercial printing organizations that—by virtue of acquisition, investment and marketing—are skyrocketing to new sales levels on the Printing Impressions 500.

Cunningham Graphics and Nationwide Graphics are fast-track firms—consolidators on the road to the top of the commercial printing market.

In the case of Cunningham Graphics, the answer is more than $112 million in annual sales, up from $53.5 million the previous fiscal year. Cunningham Graphics reported $24 million in annual revenues in 1997. For Nationwide Graphics, fast-track contention is generated in about $95 million ways, up from its previous fiscal year sales of $32 million.

Recently, Printing Impressions spoke to Michael Cunningham and Carl Norton, from Cunningham Graphics and Nationwide Graphics, respectively—and candidly.

Nationwide Graphics, Houston
Most Recent Fiscal Year Sales: $95 million
Previous Year: $32 million
Number of Employees: 650
Number of Plants: 9
Year Founded: 1998
Major Markets: General commercial printing. Concentration: As of December 1999, Nationwide Graphics operates a combined 51 sheetfed offset printing presses.

Carl Norton, chairman and CEO, wishes he could report that building a business such as Nationwide Graphics is an easy task, but negotiating deep-pocket financing to cultivate a consolidation machine is far from simple. Norton is not a printer by trade; he is a lawyer. His Nationwide Graphics partner, Vice Chairman and Senior Vice President Jerry Hyde, is a CPA. Still, the two investigated the printing industry thoroughly and, in January 1998, arranged financing to build a consolidation powerhouse of their own.

In March of 1998, Nationwide Graphics bought its first company, a Las Vegas printer. The second acquisition, a Miami-based operation, came in July of that same year. The third buy hit the following September, an Atlanta-based printing operation.

The three companies churned out a combined $32 million in sales for Nationwide Graphics that year. Plus, an added bonus, as Nationwide Graphics acquired its first three organizations, it absorbed the executive-level brainpower of several printing industry veterans—giving Norton and Hyde perhaps the only element yet missing from their consolidation equation: The insider edge.


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