Lake County Press — Armed to Compete

By Erik Cagle

Ralph Johnson doesn’t need to consult the Yellow Pages to realize that Lake County Press is up to its eyes in competition around the Chicago area. Thus, the CEO of the Waukegan, IL-based sheetfed printer considers the company’s motto, “Whatever it Takes,” essential to its success.

“The service component is one aspect that makes us unique,” notes Johnson. “Obviously the quality has to be there, and we don’t take a back seat to anybody in that regard. So the defining characteristic is exceptional service, which has enabled us to do well in a down economy.”

Lake County Press’ executive team includes: (standing, from the left) Russell Schoenherr, President/CEO Ralph Johnson, Thomas Oberembt, (seated) Peter Douglas and Robert Hilliard.

LCP, in Waukegan, IL, is thriving in a crowded Chicago-area print market. The 200-employee company boasted over $37 million in sales for its 2002 fiscal year.

Lake County Press (LCP) has thrived under less-than-ideal economic conditions, pinched even further by stiff competition from other printers aggressively bidding on the same jobs. LCP garnered $37.6 million in sales for its 2002 fiscal year, with 90 percent of its take coming from the Windy City market. Just under 200 employees comprise its work force within two manufacturing facilities: its main building and an adjacent small-format press and Xerox DocuTech (SPD) division. A 20,000-square-foot fulfillment facility was also acquired recently, with negotiations ongoing for the addition of more space.

Lake County Press was founded in 1970 by Bill Clay and Bob Efinger largely as a printer of medical journals, partnering with a publisher. Johnson’s arrival in 1976 resulted in a larger infusion of commercial work and, two years later, the three men bought out the company from its publisher partner.

While a general commercial printer, LCP has earned a sterling reputation for its work with the local ad agencies and design community as a purveyor of high-end annual reports. “Once you’re perceived as an annual report printer by the design community,” notes Russell Schoenherr, senior vice president and director of sales, “you have arrived. They’re not going to question whether you can effectively print a job. What’s really helped us is the work we do for paper mills. They put out the nicest, quality materials to show off their various paper grades.”

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