Printing Industry Veteran Allan G. Creel Acquires Digital Printing Specialist Fenske Media
As an individual who literally grew up immersed in the graphic arts industry, it's not surprising that Allan G. Creel's heart is beating faster from the fresh ink flowing through his veins again. After a short departure, Creel has returned to the printing industry with the Oct. 20 acquisition of Rapid City, South Dakota-based digital printing and marketing services provider Fenske Media.
"I’m excited to get back into printing and proud to be at the helm of one of the most impressive operations I’ve seen,” Creel says. “Fenske offers an extremely agile platform that can deliver buyers top-quality digital printing, along with data-driven insights, analytics, and reporting tools to ensure the highest ROI on their print and marketing investment.”
Creel previously served as president of CREEL, a $120 million offset and digital printing enterprise headquartered in Las Vegas. As the third-generation leadership there, he is attributed with transforming his family-owned company from a traditional offset printer to an end-to-end print and marketing solutions partner with facilities across the nation.
Creel spearheaded multiple acquisitions, driving CREEL’s expansion, which culminated in the sale of his 250,000-sq.-ft. sheetfed and web offset production facility in Las Vegas to LSC Communications in July 2017, which he ended up buying back before ultimately closing the Las Vegas offset plant. The deal with LSC also included the Creel Digital Div. (Digital Lizard), which Creel acquired in 2011, and New Jersey-based GlobalSoft Digital Communications, which it purchased in 2015. The CREEL offset printing plant assets were ultimately sold to industry consolidator Mittera in March 2021.
Allan Creel Drawn Back by New Opportunity
Creel will now be leveraging his industry experience at Fenske Media as its president and CEO. The entity will retain its branding and staff, including its Fenske family leadership team. Founded by Paul and Anne Fenske in 1957, Fenske Media has a similar family legacy to CREEL's. The founders' four sons, who have been integral to the 50-employee company's growth and success, are remaining with the organization. Brian Fenske now serves as VP of operations, John Fenske as VP of production, and Dave and Tom Fenske, as VPs of business development, respectively.
As a tight-knit family — with all four Fenske brothers attending the University of Arizona in Tucson and competing on its swim team as walk-ons — Dave Fenske told Printing Impressions that being acquired by Creel will enable the siblings to "have a managed transition to stay at the company several more years, and who found the right buyer in Allan and his family credentials." Peter Schaefer, of printing and packaging industry M&A specialist New Direction Partners, represented Fenske Media in the transaction. Financial terms of the transaction, which took just over 90 days to close, were not disclosed.
"The Fenske leadership team and I share the same beliefs for craftsmanship, operational integrity, and environmental responsibility. This will be a tremendous match,” according to Creel. He said some of the drivers that first peaked his interest in acquiring Fenske Media during his initial exploratory visit there are its multi-generational family roots, its concentration on technology adoption and data management, and the overall cleanliness throughout the facility. "I was truly amazed by what I saw there," he said. When asked if Fenske Media might serve as a platform for a larger network, Creel indicated he is always interested in other acquisition opportunities.
Data-Driven Digital Printing Expertise
Considered one of the pioneers in employing data to create one-to-one, digital variable communications and cross-media marketing campaigns, the 78,000-sq.-ft. Fenske Media facility houses two high-speed Kodak Prosper 6000C continuous-feed inkjet printing lines with in-line UV coating and dynamic perfing capabilities, which serve as its workhorse presses; as well as three Ricoh 7000 series cut-sheet digital toner-based printers, deployed primarily to produce healthcare ID cards; and an eight-color, 40˝ Heidelberg Speedmaster sheetfed offset perfector with coater, to produce the static portions of its printed output. Postpress equipment consists of modular MBO and Standard/Hunkeler finishing lines that can be configured based on individual job requirements.
With a strong presence in the financial services, healthcare and automotive insurance verticals, the SOC 2 Type ll certified Fenske Media also caters to the nonprofit, political, and hospitality and gaming sectors. Creel told Printing Impressions he believes he can help Fenske gain even greater market share in the healthcare and financial space, pointing to his strong background helping companies shift to on-demand models. Dave Fenske agrees, pointing to the cross-pollination opportunities that exist between the relationships Fenske Media currently retains in combination with Allan Creel's vast network of industry relationships.
“Over the past decade, we’ve heard a lot of buzzwords and empty claims about delivering truly integrated, digital solutions in the printing industry,” Dave Fenske, concludes. “We’ve been one of the few companies to deliver so far. This acquisition is key to our continued growth and expansion. Through our combined 130 years of printing leadership and aligned vision for the future of marketing services, we’ll be delivering best-in-class communications for customers nationwide.”
With the strong industry track records of the Creel and Fenske families, that future appears very bright.