Hall of Fame--Frick Builds Empires Via M&A, Operations
BY ERIK CAGLE
Every time there was an executive meeting at Lehigh Press and the topic of direct mail came up, Ray Frick's name invariably would follow.
And why not? Frick had constructed a direct mail empire at two very high-profile commercial printing giants, Banta and Quebecor, taking both companies to the top spot in the market. Bill Love, chief financial officer at Lehigh Press, remembers Frick's name being bandied about during those executive meetings, and the theme of the discussions wasn't how to best the man or imitate him. Lehigh Press wanted Frick, and in May of 1998, they got their man.
"To me, it was a real coup by John D. DePaul [Lehigh owner] to get Ray," Love says of Frick, a 1999 Printing Impressions/RIT Print-ing Industry Hall of Fame inductee. "If you had sat down and wrote a resume for what we needed at Lehigh, he fits the description perfectly. He was the No. 1 guy in the direct mail marketplace. But we got a lot more than that. We got a guy who is a leader."
In Frick's first 12 months at the helm as president and CEO of Lehigh Press, direct mail sales increased 20 percent. But beyond dollar figures and percentages, he has developed a professional niche that crosses into a multitude of industry segments, including consolidation and the art/science of sifting through lists of prospective partners and finding those parties whose characteristics are favorable to acquisition.
During his previous four years with Quebecor as COO and president of commercial, book and new markets, Frick spearheaded the deals that landed Eagle, Sayres Communications, Petty Printing and American Signature. He also played a role in a small technical documentation acquisition in Germany.
Frick was heavily recruited by Lehigh Press and found something very familiar about the independent printer—a change of pace from his recent positions with major national corporations.