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K/P Corp.--Achieving Purpose And Profit

October 2000
BY ERIK CAGLE


Truth be known, San Ramon, CA-based K/P Corp. is a mom-and-pop printing organization that grew legs. Really, really big legs.

Founded in Salem, OR, in 1929 as Unruh-Knapp Printing, the company became known as Knapp Printing in 1963 and, later, K/P Corp. It quickly became a staple of the Northwest printing landscape as it expanded into Utah and California. Operations expanded to include direct mail services in 1982, fulfillment capabilities in 1993 and full-color digital imaging in 1994.

K/P has since complemented its arsenal with a full barrage of Internet capabilities. A massive growth spurt this year saw the company tack on an expansion at its printing facilities in Salt Lake City; a mailing and fulfillment center in Atlanta and Salem, OR; and a printing plant in San Leandro, CA.

K/P, which still considers itself a regional printing, mailing and fulfillment operation, now serves many major, national customers through its 12 facilities in five states—Oregon, Washington, Utah, California and Georgia. In 1997, the company turned its back on the consolidation craze when owner Jim Knapp transferred control to 650 new owners—his own employees—and offered stock for sale. As the page turns to a new millennium, K/P is enjoying robust sales of $95 million (for 1999) and shows no signs of slowing. In fact, the company still appears to be garnering steam, with long-term plans for national expansion.

"A lot of the changes we're making, especially with the move to employee ownership, are to try to preserve the values and work environment that Jim Knapp has worked so hard all his life to create," states Bill Taylor, California division president for K/P. "There are a lot of us here committed to keeping those values in place. With all the acquisition activity going on today—not just in our industry—we felt that if we were to have an ownership transition, we prefer it be to employees as opposed to someone not familiar with our history or culture."

Once a collection of companies with individual identities, K/P has developed a core set of values that has helped to augment its perception as a single-source solution rather than a set of singular specialties. K/P was born out of a goal "to create an organization that offers people a chance to do something worth doing and be something worth being," according to Rick Scott, president of the Northwest/Utah region. "To reach that goal, all K/P employees are expected to practice the core values of honesty, responsibility and love. It is our desire that business decisions are being made close to the customer and not at headquarters."
 

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