Fast-Track Firms : The Reinvented PrinterDecember 2012 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
When it comes to the economy and the state of the graphic arts industry, there are two safe blanket assessments that can be made. Most experts agree that recovery from the crippling 2008-2009 recession has been quite disappointing, lacking in any measurable bounce-back attributes in relation to growth.
Moreover, any printer that is able to experience modest growth, let alone to a significant degree, certainly stands out in a sea of red ink, closures, bankruptcies and liquidations that marked 2012. However, there is a small cadre of performers that were able to do more than just survive. They were able to experience explosive growth through M&A activity, new equipment, inroads to new technologies and offerings, not to mention plain-old organic growth. This was accomplished against an economic backdrop encouraging the tightening of purse strings, not loosening.
We have three examples of printing companies that bucked the trend toward pat hands and instead went all in with their bets on a successful 2012. Suffice to say, and continuing the poker analogy, these firms are betting on running the table again in 2013. It's time to see what cards they are holding.
King of Prussia, PA
Most Recent Fiscal Year Sales: $31.40 million
Previous Fiscal Year Sales: $18 million
Change: 74 Percent
Founded as a business forms manufacturer, IBS Direct subsisted on unit sets work until well into the 1980s when it transformed into a direct mail provider. Then, two years ago, CEO George Schnyder undertook a period of deep introspection. Schnyder calls it his "ah-hah" moment.
"There was no reason to believe that over the next five years, I was going to be able to do what I had not done in the past five years, which was grow the company significantly," he recalls. So Schnyder found his own replacement in Ted Sherwin, who took over the role of company president. That led to an entire management makeover that established what Schnyder calls his A-Team (minus B.A. Baracus). Instead of being soldiers of fortune, IBS Direct's A-Team became mavens of M&A.