Edwards Brothers Malloy: Making Change Their Friend
In the span of roughly six months, the marriage was finalized. It has been an eye-opening experience from both perspectives, simplified by the existence of more commonality than difference between the firms. But, as with any coming together of two cultures, the fear of the unknown can still be gripping.
"Employees see that our differences, within the grand scheme of things, are pretty minor," Bill Upton observes. "But, anytime you change one thing for one group of people, the impression they have is 'we're becoming like the other company,' when in reality we're becoming a different company. It's two family-held businesses, and our culture reflects that."
Components of a Successful Merger
As part of the coupling process, John Edwards said the companies researched business mergers, why they fail and what characteristics can generally be found in successful unions. They found that the most successful ones involve companies that are close in proximity, in the same line of work and where senior management remains in place. This deal met all of that criteria.
"One of the toughest things is that you don't shut off the lights at one company on Friday and move into the other on Monday," Edwards points out. "A machine moves, and a crew moves with it. A shift opens up and a crew moves over. It makes it a lot tougher because we're standing on both sides of the river."
A transition committee, headed by the firm's HR director and containing employees from every department, shift and building, meet on a weekly basis to discuss the difference in cultures and how to reconcile the differences in the daily activities. In addition to the committee, teams from prepress, press and bindery deal with area-specific issues to ensure a smooth transition, with employees from all shifts at both plants participating.