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One Road to Automation

June 1999
When Wallace, the $1.5 billion printing giant that built its empire in forms and labels, absorbed Graphic Industries two years ago, it positioned itself as a true commercial printing force. Once Graphic Industries joined Wallace, however, one fact became clear: Wallace needed to bring its expanding commercial printing group's management information system up to speed with the first-rate proprietary computer management system employed in its forms and labels empire. What to do?


BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO


WALLACE, a sophisticated commercial printing giant pumping out nearly $1.5 billion in sales, had a very, very big challenge. After all, how does a printing empire, built on labels, forms and office products successfully grow a suddenly expanded commercial printing group via acquisition and NOT suffer a few high-level consequences?

Once upon a time, in November 1997 to be exact, news broke that Lisle, IL-based Wallace was planning to pay approximately $437 million for Graphic Industries of Atlanta, GA—a move that would most certainly position Wallace as a formidable commercial printing contender.

At the time, Bob Cronin, Wallace's president and CEO, told industry reporters that commercial printing was "an important component of Wallace's strategy to become a fully integrated, total print manager" and that Wallace was committed to becoming as formidable a name in the commercial printing sector as it was in the labels and forms market.

Fast forward to January 1998.

With the Graphic Industries purchase complete, and several similarly successful acquisitions of commercial printing operations in the United States finalized, Wallace's top executives knew there existed the need for an advanced automated information system, capable of digitizing Wallace's administrative and print production endeavors in its newly acquired commercial printing empire.

Wallace, since 1985, had experienced great success with its home-grown computer management system—Wallace Customer Servicing System (WCSS), a proprietary mainframe information system capable of tracking every order, past, present and future, tucked in an enormous database of all of Wallace's forms and labels customers.

Wallace's big decision: Should it simply incorporate the Graphic Industries effort into WCSS? Or was it more prudent to shop for a third-party software system to deliver a computer management system tailored specifically for the commercial printing environment? Offering direction, top executives at Graphic Industries, now carrying a voice within the Wallace fortress, turned Wallace's attention to the Hagen computerized management system already in place at several of its 20 locations.

Wallace's David Rousseau, vice president of information services, acting on the advisement of the Graphic Industries team, contacted Hagen and got a first-hand look at Hagen OA, the open architecture management solution for the graphic arts industry from Hagen Systems. Hagen OA provides a full suite of modules from estimating to scheduling and job management to financial reporting. The system also combines the electronic production ticket with shop floor data collection, scheduling and alteration information.
 

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