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HGI Co. — Completing a Triple Play

April 2008 By Mark Smith
Technology Editor
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HOW'S THIS for a five-year plan? Buy three companies--web offset, sheetfed and digital--and meld their operations, people and cultures into a cohesive whole. Along the way:

o Take Hi-Liter Graphics (acquired in 2003), in Burlington, WI, from a black-and-white nonheatset web offset shop into full-color heatset capabilities, and ultimately install the first MAN Roland Euroman 32-page, four-color web press in North America (the second globally);

o Transition Inland Graphics (acquired in 2004), of Menomonee Falls, WI, back into commercial work while still maintaining its strong position in the book printing market; and

o Expand Menomonee Falls-based Plus Digital Print (acquired in 2007) into full-color, variable data digital printing (with a Kodak NexPress 2100 digital press), Web-to-print and fulfillment to support the needs of all three customer bases.

The three operating units are now part of one corporation called HGI Co., which last year had revenues of more than $33 million. HGI employs nearly 200 workers in two plants that combined cover more than 200,000 square feet. Hi-Liter, Inland and Plus Digital Print are long-standing names with strong reputations and, therefore, are being retained, explains Craig Faust, president and CEO.

"Those brands are very well known, so it would be a mistake to give up that kind of history and recognition," adds Thomas Sikora, vice president of sales and marketing. However, utilizing the HGI structure in addition to the division names enables the company to promote itself as having all of the capabilities of the largest printers in the country, but in a smaller, more flexible package.

Doing More With Less

Sikora believes changes in the marketplace made it essential that the printer be able to offer a breadth of services. "I'm hearing from buyers that instead of a five-person staff they now have two people," he says. "They say, 'I have 10 vendors, but I can only deal with three.' We want to be one of the three, and a company that grows rather than goes away."

Building a single-source printing organization fits with Faust's background. "I grew up in a job shop," he observes. Having worked for six years with a company (The Printery) that was part of Consolidated Graphics, he had previous experience with being able to sell a wide suite of products and capabilities.

All of HGI's investments are made with an eye toward meeting the needs of the overall organization's customer base. The Euroman, for example, is used to print a range of products, including publications, catalogs, collateral materials, directories and books. It can produce a variety of formats, from slim jim, digest and standard size up to tabloid, with runs of 5,000 to 500,000 copies being practical.
 

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