Expansion by Acquisition Makes Canfield & Tack a Printing Impressions 350 Fast Track Company
Topping the annual honor roll of the Printing Impressions 350 are its “Fast Track” companies: a sampling of those with significantly higher rates of year-over-year revenue growth than other listees. We profiled six outstanding performers.
It’s important to remember that the year-over-year sales figures reported by PI 350 companies are for the most recently completed fiscal year, and the one immediately preceding it. This means that in 2020 — for the majority of the companies that report calendar fiscal years — we are presenting 2019 versus 2018 comparisons that do not reflect the economic impact of COVID-19 on the industry, although nearly every listee experienced its effects at some point during the year.
However, we believe that the 2020 PI 350 remains an accurate index of the business strength and structural diversity that the printing industry will continue to display once the pandemic is finally behind it. As we hope profiles like the one below show, the attributes that put printing companies on the fast track are constants in the industry. They’re available at all times for other companies to emulate and, by sharing these stories of excellence, that’s precisely what we’re encouraging everyone who reads them to do.
Our congratulations to 2020’s Printing Impressions 350 Fast-Track firms, and our best wishes to all printing companies who made the most of a tough year.
Canfield & Tack, West Henrietta, N.Y.
Most Recent Fiscal Year Sales: $21.1 Million
Previous Fiscal Year Sales: $14.9 Million
Percentage Growth: 41%
Just a few years away from completing its first century in business near Rochester, N.Y., and closing in on 30 years as an employee-owned company, Canfield & Tack follows a formula for growth that has withstood the test of time: expansion by acquisition, accompanied by a continuous quest for internal improvement.
The company’s 2020 merger with nearby Cohber Press — itself a former Printing Impressions 350 listee — achieved both, according to Canfield & Tack’s president, Ray Brown. Absorbing Cohber’s business grew the revenue. Moving from two separate Canfield & Tack locations into Cohber’s more spacious and better laid out plant meant a “huge efficiency gain” for the combined company and its workforce, which took in the Cohber personnel as employee owners.
A previous acquisition brought Canfield & Tack into direct mail, part of a full spectrum of services that also includes commercial printing, fulfillment, and distribution. Brown says that about 15 years ago, he noticed how much of the company’s activity was concentrated in the shipping department — an indication that the time had come to start treating material handling and delivery as its own business unit.
Today, 65% percent of what Canfield & Tack does consists of print management and fulfillment for producers of wine, spirits, and medical devices, as well as insurance companies, health care providers, and financial institutions. For these clients, Canfield & Tack maintains online portals through which they can order print either from inventory or produced for them on-demand.
Masks for Every Home in Town
Brown says the volume of direct mail now stands at about 2 million pieces per month. Recently, as part of a public safety response to COVID-19, the company produced a mass mailing for the City of Rochester, which wanted to provide face masks to all of its residents without having to hand them out in person.
Municipal government supplied the masks, and Canfield & Tack furnished the mailing lists and lettershop services that made the distribution possible. “We mailed a total of 447,500 masks out to 89,500 households so that every resident of the City of Rochester would have them,” Brown notes.
The company more routinely produces marketing collateral, brochures, point-of-purchase displays, packaging, and wide-format graphics. The production equipment is a cross-section of six- and eight-color 40˝ offset presses, and both toner and inkjet digital output devices. Brown says that the shop has been making heavy use of the Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1 sheetfed UV inkjet press it acquired in the merger with Cohber.
But, he is quick to acknowledge employee ownership as Canfield & Tack’s chief competitive advantage. He describes a collaborative environment where team members celebrate successes, overcome failures, share financial information — and enjoy an unusual amount of leeway in deciding how best to get the work done.
At Canfield & Tack, according to Brown, “people are vested in a very different and positive way.” This means that when someone spots something that appears to be going wrong, he or she is expected to speak up and correct it. This kind of independent thinking is so well ingrained that Canfield & Tack employees don’t hesitate to take actions that employees of other printing companies might shy away from.
Fix, Don’t Fuss
Once, Brown remembers, a customer experiencing a problem called the pressroom manager directly to a request a fix. The pressroom manager obliged the customer without first consulting the CSR or the salesperson assigned to the account — a move that might have triggered a turf squabble elsewhere. But at Canfield & Tack, Brown points out, “nobody thought anything was wrong with it.”
This is because customer service is paramount. Brown praises the work of his “dynamite” group of internal account managers, who handle work representing up to half of the company’s sales. He notes that external salespeople are supported by systems that let them “get the estimate as fast as they can input the data” when conferring with customers.
According to Brown, the heavy toll taken by COVID-19 on other printing companies in his region has decreased competition there, resulting in an upsurge of last-minute orders for survivors like Canfield & Tack. “We will scramble to react very quickly to requests coming in,” he says of this unanticipated work. “We will tell people, ‘yes, we can make that deadline.’”
Brown believes that Canfield & Tack’s segment of the industry will continue to consolidate. He says that as it does, the company will stay focused on the vertical markets it excels at serving. The emphasis on the strength derived from employee ownership will not change, nor will what is, in Brown’s words, the heart of Canfield & Tack’s all-under-one-roof value proposition: “We are not just an intermediary. We are a manufacturer.”