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Fast-Track Firms : The Reinvented Printer

December 2012 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
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In October of 2011, the printer acquired Mars Graphics of Westville, NJ. A few months later, IBS added Deptford, NJ-based Intek. The IBS Direct headquarters in King of Prussia, PA, swelled to 90 employees from 48, and the 71,000-square-foot facility soon bulged with the addition of two commercial web offset presses, both Harris M110s, courtesy of Mars. That deal alone added $10 million to IBS' sales coffers.

The Intek deal didn't add much gear of significance, but did net IBS a major contract with AAA to produce trip maps and TripTik travel planners for 350 AAA locations around the United States, Canada and Mexico. AAA was Intek's sole client. IBS will also use the press it picked up in this deal, a Harris M90, to generate rolls and sheets of envelopes for a manufacturer.

Other gear came aboard as part of the tuck-ins, including folders, sheeters, cutters and binders, but by far the bread-and-butter aspects of the acquisitions are the three web presses and the relationships that emerged from bringing on Intek. The company also ratcheted up its platemaking capabilities, switching from a system that produced four or five plates an hour to one that generates 40 to 50 an hour.

More excitement is in store for IBS Direct in 2013, with two acquisitions and two more press additions planned, though Schnyder didn't divulge any details. He had to lease 15,000 square feet of extra storage space for paper and finished goods, and he doesn't envision being able to accommodate anything beyond two more presses.

"My sense is that by the end of 2013, not taking into consideration any additional sales from acquisitions, we'll be close to $40 million in sales," Schnyder notes.
New York
Most Recent Fiscal Year Sales:
$82.22 million
Previous Fiscal Year Sales:
$66.96 million
23 Percent

The founding fathers at have always believed in improving processes via technology. While the company is generally known for being one of the first concerns to offer digital printing exclusively through the Internet (debuting in 1998) via its Printing-as-a-Service, cloud-based model, it has enjoyed international success, particularly in Europe.'s offerings fall into three buckets: documents (including marketing collateral, manuals and training materials); a photo publishing (cards, calendars and books) fulfillment partner for brands such as Snapfish; and specialty publications (a boon providing school planners in the United Kingdom, Austria and Germany, yearbooks in the UK and funeral stationery).

"We're bringing some of those products to other geographies and see growth potential across the board," notes Charlie Corr,'s vice president of corporate strategy. "The use of digital color is growing. We've made significant investments in color, added four HP Indigos, a couple of Xeikons, upgraded many of our (Kodak) NexPresses, and increased our black-and-white capacity.

"We've invested a great deal in binding and finishing, not only to produce school planners, but also hardcover, case-bound books with jackets for our photo partners. Our company has invested aggressively in R&D and increased capacity."

Part of building upon market share is leading the way, courtesy of "a better mousetrap"—a.k.a, the customer experience. Price and ease of use may rule the Internet, but has found its 24/7 customer service and support to be a difference maker. From an internal standpoint, the race will always be on to find a more efficient and effective way of translating online orders into satisfied customers.

"We're always looking at new growth opportunities," Corr says. "We're very interested in automation and improvements in binding technology—from perfect binding to case and mechanical. And, we're always looking for improvements in productivity, throughput and cost on color. Much of what we do is aggregating volume, so we can look at higher-end equipment because of that."

While 23 percent year-over-year growth is somewhat amazing, the brain trust at views it as a manifestation of the company's game-plan execution. Corr sees more opportunities to be had than the company is able to engage.

"It's a balancing act between the resources that you have from development through sales through production, and your ability to engage those opportunities," he adds. "One of our biggest challenges is finding that right balance."

SG360°, A Segerdahl Co.
Wheeling, IL
Most Recent Fiscal Year Sales:
$178 million
Previous Fiscal Year Sales:
$160 million
11 Percent

The artist formerly known as The Segerdahl Corp. may not have come full circle as their new moniker indicates, but perhaps the name change represents an about-face (or a 180°) in its strategy. The employee-owned firm, which now offers the "full arc" of empirical direct marketing solutions, reaps nearly half of its clients from the national retail space—clothing, big-box food, electronic and home/hardware stores.

The company is built on three pillars: BRANDIRECTions, a research process that lays the groundwork for success; IMPRESSions, the realization and transformation of a strategic vision; and EXPRESSions, where an impression is shaped, crafted and placed in the hands of the consumer. Completing the transformation was the acquisition of RT Associates.

"What's truly unique to SG360°, and what makes us a leader in our industry is our BRANDIRECTions pillar," notes Rick Joutras, CEO. "This is the data science pillar of our company that includes analytics to guide and optimize direct marketing solutions. One specific area allows our clients to utilize online, demographically specific panelists to test the effectiveness of their campaigns before spending a single dime on production. This method of pre-testing is called Empirical Testing and provides a scientific means to present the high probable design to ultimately test against a known control piece.

"We are giving our customers a brand new way to plan their client communications based on real and objective feedback."

In 2012, the company added a pair of new, six-color Komori Lithrone G40 sheetfed offset presses. The machines complement a press fleet that includes a Goss Sunday 4000 in-line twin web press, as well as HP Indigo and Canon digital output devices.

Moving forward, Joutras says the company is looking to integrate digital printing with the evolving software-as-a-solution (SaaS) industry. "And how can we utilize BRANDIRECTions to incorporate programs that include and rely on both direct mail printing and e-mail as integral parts of the solution," he adds. "There are a number of programs already in place where this combination has clearly proven to be very successful and positively impacting the return on marketing investment." PI





The graphic communications industry is facing some very serious challenges, but that doesn't mean there isn't still a lot of life and opportunity in our future. 

Competing for Print's Thriving Future focuses on how printers can create their own positive future by understanding and taking advantage of the emerging changes — the changes that are shaping the printing industry of today and tomorrow. 

Use the research, analysis, and forecasts in this book to: 
• Assess the changes taking place
• Understand the changes
• Design a plan to deal with the changes

Topics include: 
• Economic forces, life cycle, and competitive position
• Place in the national and global economies
• Industry structure, cost structure, and profitability trends
• Emerging market spaces--ancillary and print management services
• Competitive strategies, tactics, and business models
• Key practices of SuperPrinters
• Combating foreign competition
• Social network usage
• A ten-step process to survive and thrive Competing for Print’s Thriving Future

The graphic communications industry is facing some very serious challenges, but that doesn't mean there isn't still a lot of life and opportunity in our future. “Competing for Print's Thriving Future” focuses on how printers can create their own positive future by understanding and taking advantage of the  changes that...




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