Quad/Graphics : An Affair to Remember

Joel Quadracci (center, with bow tie), family members and senior execs celebrate Quad/Graphics going public by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. (Double click to enlarge.)

Quad/Graphics now boasts a strong presence in commercial and specialty printing, like wide-format digital output (shown here) at its Tempt in-store marketing unit.

Inca Onset inkjet printer at Quad/Graphics’ Tempt business unit.

Activity at the Sussex, WI, facility centers around 2x8 format press production of higher page count products.

Another view of a Quad/Graphics web press.

Web press at Quad/Graphics’ Dubuque, IA, plant.

A new press at Lomira, WI, is part of a $20 million investment in retail insert production.

Stretching as far as the eye can see, the saddle stitching department dominates the north end of Quad/Graphics’ production facility in Lomira, WI.

Cynthia Cisneros, a gatherer operator, moves a product bundle to stream feeders on a 68-pocket perfect binder.

Aerial view of Quad/Graphics’ operation in Sussex, WI.

Quad/Graphics’ plant in Lomira, WI.

Computer-to-plate department at Quad/Graphics Dubuque.

Proofing at Quad/Graphics Dubuque.

Xerox iGen digital press at Quad/Graphics Dubuque.

Quad/Graphics’ facility in Hartford, CT.

For Joel Quadracci, executive heir to the kingdom assembled by his father, the late Harry V. “Larry” Quadracci, this deal was a challenge unlike anything the company had ever done. After all, Quad/Graphics was a private firm that didn’t make a lot of attention-grabbing moves. Sure, the elder Quadracci used to throw some extravagant bashes—remember the story of his grand entrance riding an elephant? But, to the outside world, it was a company known for technology innovation and a well-defined corporate culture; where management and rank-and-file workers alike proudly donned their blue uniforms.

It was an employee-centric paradise known for its in-house child daycare programs and progressive on-site health care facilities. The workers showed their appreciation by making Quad/Graphics arguably the most well-rounded and successful printer in the game.

But M&A plays? That’s Joe Davis or Bob Burton territory.

“On day one, we had a company-wide town hall meeting,” relates Quadracci. “We installed flat-panel screens at all of the Worldcolor plants. I wanted everyone to be able to see and hear me. The people at Quad are used to that, but not at Worldcolor. I told them we had tough decisions to make, and that we were trying to allow as much time as possible for people to plan their lives. You have to make (tough) decisions with your head, but implement them with your heart.

“Quad has a history of making bold and aggressive moves during downturns. However, with bold moves come uncomfortable circumstances that force you to make difficult decisions.”

Following the acquisition, plant closures and head count reductions were expected. There was tremendous redundancy between the companies’ respective magazine and catalog platforms, which happened to be the most challenged of the Worldcolor divisions, according to Quadracci. But, what a bounty Quad/Graphics has reaped: books, directories, retail inserts, direct mail, commercial and specialty printing (not to mention a presence in Canada and significantly expanded holdings in Latin America)—all of them new offerings or significant augmentations to what had been modest Quad holdings.

Related story: Quad/Graphics : Solving the Integration Puzzle

Related Content
  • Bob

    23.53 and falling fast. Quad made the same mistake that world color did. GoodBye quad.