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Harris DeWese

The Mañana Man Online

By Harris DeWese

About Harris

Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something." He is chairman/CEO at Compass Capital Partners and an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of info regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 100-plus printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the industry. He specializes in investment banking, M&A, sales, marketing and management services to printers.


Predictions Prove True —DeWese

IN THE May 2003 edition of this magazine I predicted some mega deals would begin to occur. I also predicted that the number of printing companies would continue to shrink and that we would have less than 30,000 by 2006.

A reader, who will remain nameless, e-mailed me a few days ago and asked if there was going to be a follow-up column reporting on how well I did with my prophesies.

Hey! I am not a modern day Nostradamus. I’m just a mere mortal human being with, maybe, a tad more talent than the rest of you.

I am gonna stop for a minute and explain Nostradamus to Marvelle Stump, America’s worst and dumbest printing salesperson.

Marvelle, Nostradamus was born in 1503 in St. Remy de Provence, France. I, too, am of French descent and I have drunk great quantities of Remy Martin, a cognac distilled from champagne made from grapes grown in Remy, Nostradamus’ hometown. Now, Marvelle, I am only suggesting this is mere coincidence and in no way implies that I’m as good as Nostradamus.

Students of Nostradamus tell us he made over 1,000 predictions and more than 500 have come true so far. I once predicted I would hit over .500 in a church softball league. I did and, again, this is just another remarkable coincidence with the prophesies of Nostradamus.

He, incidentally, enrolled at the University of Montpellier in France. One summer I dated a young woman who was a senior at the University of Vermont, which I believe, is in Montpelier, VT. Yep, just another huge coincidence. And, maybe, you are beginning to see I am way more than some attention-starved newsmonger.

Here is one more almost un-believable link from Nostradamus to me. Many stories arise in history as testimony to Nostradamus’ alleged second sight.

In one account, the visionary was challenged by a skeptic, the Seigneur de Florinville, while staying at his chateau in the province of Lorraine.

Nostradamus was shown two suckling pigs—one black and the other white. Florinville then asked Nostradamus to predict which one they would eat that night for supper. Nostradamus replied they would eat the black pig. Florinville then told the cook to prepare the white pig. That evening at dinner, Nostradamus was again asked which pig they were eating, and again he replied the black one.

Florinville triumphantly asked the cook to tell which pig it was that they were eating. The cook said that while preparing the white pig a tamed wolf cub had wandered into the kitchen and devoured it. The cook then slaughtered the remaining black pig and prepared it for the dinner.

Black-and-White Issue

Yes, I’m sure you are getting the picture. I have eaten pork from both black and white pigs and, for that matter, mixed black and white pigs.

So, while my predictions were not precisely right, they were generally right. There’s no need to waste space precisely comparing my predictions to what actually happened. Here are some of the mega deals that I foretold.

Deluxe Corp. (NYSE: DLX), a $1.25 billion check printer based out of Shoreview, MN, acquired New England Business Services (NYSE: NEB) a Groton, MA-based printer of small business products.

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) acquired Kinko’s via its parent company, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, a private equity firm that owned 75 percent of Kinko’s stock.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) and DLJ Merchant Banking, a division of Credit Suisse First Boston, acquired Von Hoffmann, Jostens and Arcade in a series of transactions with total consideration of $2.2 billion.

RR Donnelley (NYSE: RRD) and Moore Wallace (NYSE: MWI; Toronto) completed the largest transaction in the history of the graphic arts industry, with combined revenues of $8 billion and more than 43,000 employees.

So, you see there is something to my comparison to Nostradamus. You may be wondering about your marriage. Your future with your significant other. Maybe you’d like to know about your 2006 W-2 income. Whatever troubles you is my bailiwick and I urge you to visit me at where, for 50 bucks, I’ll tell you your fortune.

Next subject.

I was invited to a sales meeting held by a general commercial sheetfed company that had decided to abandon automated telephone answering and hire a real human being. Instead of titling the position receptionist, they were calling the new job Director of First Impressions, an idea, I am told, they were given by one of the great creative minds in the printing industry, Dick Gorelick. Dick has captured two inescapable truths: the person who greets your customers—either in person or by phone—and the person who delivers your jobs are among the most important people in your company.

The president of the printing operation had invited the top three applicants to the sales meeting at 8:45, 9:00 and 9:15 a.m. Each applicant was asked to talk about themselves for two to three minutes, their qualifications and why they wanted the job. Then the sales-people and key operating people asked the applicants questions. When this grilling was complete, the salespeople voted to select the new receptionist. They picked the person who would have been my choice.

There was a wonderful smile in her voice. She made eye contact with every questioner. And, be still my heart, She asked for the order! Yep, she asked to be hired!

Now this printing company has a warm and friendly human being answering the phone in a market where their competitors mostly have a voice mail recording answering the phone and inviting you to a directory where you enter the first three letters of the party’s last name. Ugh!

Deserving of Recognition

All of this reminded me that I have absentmindedly abandoned my annual Receptionists’ Hall of Fame awards. I’m going to do it again and expand it. Now, however, I’m going to call it the First Impressions Hall of Fame and the Last Impressions Hall of Fame. Send me your nominations for your receptionist and delivery person who you believe deserve to be in my Hall of Fame. I will select four people who greet your customers and prospects, and four who deliver your jobs.

I’m interested in people who go the extra mile, and who make a big difference at your company and to your customers. I will announce the winners in my column in the January 2007 edition. We will run their photos and your nominating letters. The winners will also get coveted Mañana Man trophies and maybe some other good stuff.

Meanwhile, thanks to Dick Gorelick who reminded me that the least recognized folks are often the most important.

Hey, you lazy rascals. You salespeople. I don’t want to see your cars in the parking lot. I don’t want to see you hanging around the plant. Just get out there and sell something! PI

—Harris DeWese

About the Author
Harris DeWese is the author of Now Get Out There and Sell Something, available through NAPL or PIA/GATF. He is chairman and CEO at Compass Capital Partners and is an author of the annual “Compass Report,” the definitive source of information regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed more than 100 printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the printing industry. He specializes in investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, sales, marketing, planning and management services to printing companies. He can be reached via e-mail at

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