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HM Graphics -- Eight Is (Not) Enough

May 2009 By Cheryl Adams
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WHEN JOHN Sandstrom passed away in 1990, his eight children were suddenly left in charge of his printing operation. Having grown up in the graphic arts business, the Sandstrom siblings took the reins of their family’s Milwaukee-based business, HM Graphics.

Relying on each other and the sum of their sibling experience, the Sandstrom children set out to follow in their father’s footsteps, carrying on a proud tradition of quality printing.

In 1969, John Sandstrom bought the small print shop and slowly grew it from a $250,000, one- and two-color operation into a four-color sheetfed business, which was generating more than $12 million at the time of his passing.

Determined to maintain the standard of excellence set by their father, his children made it their mission to continue that tradition.

During the 1990s, HM Graphics added a total of 79,000 square feet to its facility. New equipment followed each expansion. At the turn of the millennium, it galvanized its niche in three-dimensional (mechanical insert) printing. Despite the weak economy in 2001-2002, the company continued to expand its prepress, press, fulfillment and hand assembly departments.

In the past five years, HM has significantly enhanced its capabilities, including remodeling the facility to improve workflow and logistics, and investing in new printing presses, as well as finishing, mailing and fulfillment equipment.

In 2009, as the company celebrates its 40th anniversary, six of the founder’s eight children still own and manage the company: James, president and CEO; Kevin, executive vice president; KathyAnn, vice president of marketing; Jay, vice president of sales; Mary Pat (Sandstrom) Plonske, vice president of purchasing; and David, vice president and senior account executive. Additionally, Jon Sandstrom, the first member of the third generation (and John Sandstrom’s namesake), will celebrate his first anniversary with the company this year. 

Rated E for Excellent

HM Graphics outperformed its own expectations, generating $28 million in revenues in 2008. Services have evolved and expanded to include everything from general commercial printing and three-dimensional/mechanical product manufacturing to direct mail, fulfillment and a complete bindery—all provided within a 120,000-square-foot facility. 

Despite the economic downturn, the Sandstroms believe that 2009 will be a “monumental” year, as HM commemorates its anniversary. The year kicked off with the installation of a new six-color, 40? Heidelberg UV press. It is the printer’s eighth Heidelberg; there are three six-color presses, three two-color models, as well as a Heidelberg/Kodak Nexpress digital press equipped with a glossing unit. 


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