Year for Broken Records
New York-based Big Flower Holdings spent the year putting more distance between itself and the commercial printing industry, but did acquire Chicago's Enteron Group, a $60 million premedia company, and ColorStream Technologies, also in Chicago.
In addition to the established players, there were the newcomers to the game.
In Westport, CT, Terry Tevis, formerly an executive at R.R. Donnelley & Sons, was named to head Printing Arts America (PAA), a new industry consolidator being formed by merchant banking firm Kohlberg and Co.
To create the company, Kohlberg acquired four regional commercial printing companies: Classic Printing and American Corporate Literature, both in the Nashville area; S&S Graphics in the Washington/Baltimore area; and Printing Arts/LithoTech, near Chicago.
That was followed by the addition of Pompano Beach, FL-based AIM Riverside Press, Houston-based Jolley Printing and Bethlehem, PA-based Oaks Printing.
Another new player is former Moore and Quebecor Printing executive Graham McClean, who formed a partnership with the Thoma Cressey Equity Partners (TCEP) investment firm, creating yet another new industry roll-up company, Global Docugraphix. One of its first acquisitions was Little Rock, AR-based B-N-B Systems, followed by Santa Rosa, CA-based Associated Business Products and Dallas-based TPE Business Services.
A third new player was Memphis, TN-based Master Graphics, which completed an IPO and began making acquisitions, including Alexandria, VA-based Stephenson Printing and Indianapolis-based The Printing Co.
A fourth was in Philadelphia, where a company called Taconic Direct Holdings begin to make noise by acquiring the Brooklyn, NY-based OMNI Companies. It is promising more acquisitions to come.
R.R. Donnelley & Sons, North America's largest printer, has shown little interest in domestic acquisitions recently, but in 1998 Donnelley looked to international markets, acquiring Ediciones Eclipse, S.A. de C.V., Mexico's largest printer of retail inserts.
Donnelley also spent the year shedding some of its bulk. Its trouble-plagued Metromail was sold, after a heated bidding war, to Britain's Great Universal Stores (GUS). And New York-based Bowne & Co. purchased Donnelley's Enterprise Solutions.