Printing’s Future Is Now

The executive team at Creel Printing, from the left, consists of President Allan Creel Jr., Chairman/CEO Allan Creel Sr., and Debbie Creel, CFO.

Key executives at Creel Printing, shown from left, include Terry Tobin, Gary Kasufkin, Bill Wieners, Allan Creel Jr., Chris Evans and Micah Armijo.

Creel himself felt it was important to make a deeper commitment to digital printing via the M&A route, where his company could find a like-minded partner to help provide advanced capabilities as opposed to taking the green fields approach with a startup operation. Creel Printing looked no further than its own customer list, where a Hayden, ID-based digital printer—that also happened to emphasize quality—resided. Digital Lizard, which opened in 2005 as an in-plant for a personalized magazine, was acquired in August of 2011.

Focus on Quality

“One of the things that made Creel Printing and Digital Lizard such a good fit is the fact that Creel is in the quality space,” notes Bill Wieners, vice president, digital solutions, and the president of Digital Lizard at the time of the acquisition.

“After the real estate business tanked, we went out and developed a unique offering in the digital space, and we went heavily after the print-on-demand (POD) market, specifically from a digital perspective. A lot of the POD providers focus around the gang run mentality. We wanted to focus on one-off orders with very high levels of print quality. We’re probably one of the larger POD providers today that is all-digital.”

Founded in 1953 by Eugene Creel—Allan’s grandfather—Creel Printing has evolved from a five-employee letterpress shop to a network of four facilities in three states (Nevada, Idaho and California), with more than 500 employees. On the offset side, Creel Printing produces publications, catalogs, commercial work and direct mail, with Digital Lizard (a division of Creel) chipping in consumer and corporate asset/brand management (including business cards, stationery, brochures, postcards, calendars and greeting cards).

Some observers may find it interesting that one of the largest digital customers is a prominent online search engine with a thirst for direct mail. Digital Lizard’s niche is the independent graphic designer market, of which it serves roughly 10,000 per year, and the firm presides over more than 200 Web-to-print storefronts reaching small-to-medium and enterprise business end users globally. In the fourth quarter, Digital Lizard does a strong amount of work for the photo specialty market.

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