2013 Hall of Fame : David Pilcher Sr. - Inspiration and Reclamation
Pilcher relished the opportunity. He bought the firm, brought in sons David Jr. and James to help with the rehab, and worked his magic. Fifteen years later, Freeport Press now lays claim to one of the nicest equipment lines in the industry, solid banking relationships with access to capital and an impeccable reputation. The publication and catalog printing operation posted just south of $33 million in sales and is poised to double that amount during the next five years.
Righting the Freeport Ship
Righting the Freeport ship was not an easy task. "We were dealing with employees who had limited training or background," Pilcher notes. "They had very little industry experience; most were home grown. It was hard to attract anyone because we couldn't meet the wage levels. Today, we're able to hire anyone we need. We have a great employee pool and we've developed great alliances. We also have tremendous relationships with our vendor partners."
Pilcher steadily turned over the equipment, using liquidations, plant closings and auctions to phase out the LBJ-era gear. Operations were streamlined, decisions were quickly made and opportunities pounced upon. A new building was constructed.
One year, a Komori web offset press was added; two years later, another followed. To make things more interesting, the first press had the distinction of being obtained in October of 2008, "when the bottom dropped out of the world," Pilcher observes.
"I had more debt than ever," he adds. "We shrank the company down, sold our way back out of it and, two years later, put in the second Komori web."
Pilcher stresses the importance of having great vendor partnerships, including Komori and EFI, in coming back from the brink. He also credits his sons for playing vital roles in the rebirth of Freeport Press. The company prides itself on having the industry's lowest waste, according to Pilcher, and Komori has confirmed upon the printer the title of world's fastest web makeready record.