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

Shapco Printing executives (from left): Don Johnson, Joe Avery and Joel Shapiro. Photo by David Sherman Photography.

Shapco’s conventional printing capabilities include a six-color, 40˝ Komori Lithrone.

A full-color digital job gets produced on Shapco Printing’s new HP Indigo 7600 press, which can handle a 13x19˝ sheet size.

The shop floor is awash in activity, including the installation of a new eight-color (plus coater) Komori Lithrone sheetfed press.

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.

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