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Schawk Inc. — Sustaining Business and Nature

August 2007 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
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CONTRARY TO the crooning of Kermit the Frog, being green has not only become easy, but popular. Especially in the business sector.

Perhaps it is the fallout from Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” but environmental sustainability initiatives have become trendy—and the printing industry is certainly au courant with the greening movement. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has bestowed certification upon a number of printers, industry manufacturers and other related vendors in recognition of eco-friendly operating practices.

Schawk Inc. is all about responsibility. The Des Plaines, IL-based company, with 151 operations and 3,500 employees scattered across 12 countries in four continents, recognizes its obligations to those whose lives it touches, hence the creation of a global environmental sustainability team. That group has hammered out a list of seven pledges regarding operating practices that impact the environment.

Schawk certainly knows how to take care of its shareholders, and the bottom line. This brand image solutions provider—renown for its packaging prepress capabilities—has grown sales at a 19.3 percent compounded average annual growth rate for the past five years, while its stock has yielded a 14 percent compounded average annual return over the same period.

It is important to note that Schawk, which posted $568 million in sales for 2006, cannot be found on the Printing Impressions 400 list because it is largely not a printer. It offers planning (marketing strategy, message generation) and strategic design (brand strategy, naming and package design), along with retouching, 3-D imaging and prepress services. The offerings fall under a three-tiered business model: Graphic Services & Prepress, Brand Consulting & Design, and Enterprise Products.

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Schawk does boast a commercial printing plant in Los Angeles, which recently welcomed a new eight-color, 73˝ MAN Roland 900 XXL sheetfed model—the press manufacturer’s first eight-color plus coater installation in the world. Here, too, environmental considerations came into play with one of the early products churned off the 900 XXL.

This isn’t the Schawk founded by Clarence Schawk in 1953, but the beauty of the company—not to mention the driving force behind its survival—is the ability to reinvent itself. The founder used his wedding money to get the company rolling, and his son has used the explosion of technology in the 21st century to continue it.

“We went from a traditional craft trade into the digital world. Slowly, but surely, we have progressed into a brand consultancy-type business, more so than a printer or a prepress company,” notes David Schawk, president and CEO. “Changing technology has changed our service offering.”

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