One Road to Automation

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.

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