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NEW EXECUTIVES - At the Helm

December 2000
These recently named company presidents are rolling up their sleeves to catapult their companies to new heights.


BY SCOTT POLK


Bruce Thomas
President and CEO
Cadmus Communications, Richmond, VA
When Bruce Thomas was 18 years old, his father thought a factory job would be a positive experience for his son. So Thomas, who had recently graduated from high school, went to work for a stamping factory in Cleveland.

About the same time, there was a sanitation worker strike in Cleveland and the uncollected garbage was beginning to pile up in bins at the stamping factory. Finally, the company arranged for dump trucks to come and ship out the trash. The only problem was that the trucks didn't have the prongs necessary to lift the bins and deposit the trash in the bed of the truck.

The unenviable task of loading up the trucks fell to the junior employees of the plant, of which Thomas was the newest.

"It was a unique experience," Thomas recalls with a laugh. "My first two weeks of work were spent from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. inside garbage bins."

Thomas has since gone from the bottom of a garbage pile to the top of the Cadmus Communications mountain. The 44-year-old was promoted to CEO of the Richmond, VA-based company on July 1 after previously serving as COO, CFO and general counsel.

Cadmus is the world's largest producer of scientific/trade/medical (STM) information with 35 percent of the market share, thanks to acquisitions of its three largest competitors during the past four years. Its four primary markets are scientific/technical publishers, special interest magazine publishers, professional book and directory publishers, and specialty packaging and marketing.

"We have gone through a period of substantial restructuring and repositioning," Thomas notes. "The challenge that faces our company is to take the four market focus businesses that we have today and to regain our external focus. (We need) to significantly improve our differentiation from our competitors and to bring to those markets truly innovative solutions."

Thomas earned his undergraduate degree at Kenyon College (OH) before obtaining a law degree from the University of North Carolina. He says his idea of an effective executive requires someone who is determined and externally focused.

"In our business the pace of change is absolutely unbelievable," he stresses. "The one question I am constantly asked is, 'Where are we heading and what are we going to be when we grow up?' In a leadership position, you are the one person who can provide a destination or a clarity of purpose that your customers can understand and that your internal associates can understand."



 

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