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Shapco Printing Gets a New Lease on Life with Capex Infusion, New Location

June 2014 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
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When the biggest deal in his professional career—the sale of his company to a competitor—fell apart on the day of the transaction's closing last fall, Joel Shapiro could not have been happier.

Shapiro's company, Minneapolis-based Shapco Printing, was to be sold to another Minnesota printing powerhouse, which had made a generous offer for the producer of high-end art gallery books, direct mail, fulfillment and wide-format goods. After 30-plus years in the industry, perhaps it was time Shapiro tried his hand at something different.

Shapiro had been steadfast during the entire transaction process, warning the buyer that if he changed the offer "even by a dollar," the deal would be off. Still, on the day of closing, the buyer wanted to renegotiate the final price. Shapiro didn't blink. Instead, he walked away.

His emotional reaction to the soured deal was most telling. "I felt elation, a euphoria that came over my body," recalls Shapiro. "Obviously, I did not have it in my heart to sell the business. When it fell apart, I felt terrific. I was excited and re-energized."

Instead of golfing or touring the world, Shapiro redoubled his efforts. In a six-month span, he sold the company's home of 35 years and relocated to Golden Valley, MN, and poured $3 million into new equipment, highlighted by a pair of HP Indigo color digital presses: an Indigo 7600 and an Indigo 10000. The renewed enthusiasm is palpable throughout the firm, which posted $33 million in sales last year and is on the fast track to becoming a $40 million annual performer.

Truth be known, it seems that Shapiro has developed something of a transformative touch, from the type of printing that his Shapco Printing offers to the once-drab Minneapolis neighborhood it, until recently, called home.

Breaking Out from the Pack

Let's turn back the clock for a moment. The year is 1988, and Shapco is grinding it out, producing one- and two-color sheetfed work, some process color, and posting about $3 million in sales. The company was doing OK financially, but something didn't seem right. The equipment wasn't anywhere near top of the line, and that began to eat away at Shapiro, because the results didn't rise to his level of expectations.


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