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FAST TRACK FIRMS -- Sailing Against the Wind

December 2003
By Erik Cagle

Senior Editor

The whispers that point toward an improving economy are becoming louder and louder. And 2004—some observers are confident—will show a marked improvement in the fortunes of commercial printers across the country, ending a downward cycle that traces to the fall of 2000.

Of course, anything above the 2001 and 2002 performances would constitute an improvement. Still, among the ranks of our annual Top 400, tucked in between the masses of companies that experienced flat or negative growth from the previous campaign, are some establishments that have actually soared.

We've provided a capsulated look at 13 companies randomly selected from a cross section of sales levels to discover what initiatives were undertaken to produce black ink in the vast sea of red. These firms posted figures that represent their most recently concluded fiscal year. They are listed in no particular order.

EU Services

Rockville, MD

2003 Ranking: 153

Most Recent Fiscal Year Sales: $38M

Previous Fiscal Year Sales: $32.5M

EU Services traces its roots to 1968 as a provider of custom printed envelopes. The company now produces a full range of customized direct mail packages and high-end commercial products, including annual reports, package inserts and sales collateral for associations, non-profits and religious organizations, publishers, direct marketing agencies and corporate B2B.

EU Services' growth was buoyed by an increased emphasis on sales, acquisition marketing and internal production efficiencies, according to Art Simpson, executive vice president. The company's marketing budget was bolstered by 25 percent and three new sales positions were added.

"Company performance and profitability information was communicated to employees on a monthly basis, and an emphasis on the organization's mission, vision and core business attributes was promoted on an ongoing basis," he says. "EU also focused on maintaining a healthy mix of business across all divisions—commercial printing, envelope printing, data processing, mail processing—via selling 'total packages' that maximized all service areas."

EU Services was also busy in equipment acquisitions during 2003, adding a six-color Heidelberg CD press with aqueous coater to replace older two- and five-color machines. Three inserters and a Nipson 7000 printer rounded out the major purchases.

For 2004, Simpson sees EU adding more sales reps, as well as expanding into two or three targeted, vertical market segments. An internal brand awareness and corporate culture campaign kicked off this past October to mark the company's 35th anniversary.

Quantum Color Graphics

Morton Grove, IL

2003 Ranking: 193

Most Recent Fiscal Year Sales: $28.5M

Previous Fiscal Year Sales: $24.6M
 

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