CUNNINGHAM GRAPHICS -- Public Service
By establishing the World Research Link, Cunningham Graphics was able to compete against larger, global printers. ISDN and T-1 lines tied Cunningham Graphics, Roda and Workable together. The three partners also standardized their service and equipment so all clients received the same treatment.
"We calibrated our software and our output devices, so that we were truly handling files the same way," Cunningham says. "Even the way we handled the customers—the way we answered the phone, the way we billed—was done the same way. We acted as one company."
Roda won't be Cunningham Graphics' last acquisition. Even so, it's questionable Workable will be the next. While Cunningham speaks highly of the Hong Kong company, the Asian economy makes the Far East a risky place to invest now. "It's a shaky market," Cunningham notes, "but we're looking forward to the day when we can add Workable to the team."
Asia may be closed right now, but many other markets are wide open. "We're looking at acquisitions both domestically and overseas," Okin says. "We want companies that complement what we're doing and also give us some diversification."
According to Okin, Cunningham Graphics' acquisition strategy consists of three parts. The first is purchasing standalone operations, such as Roda. The second part covers what Cunningham calls "tuck-in" acquisitions; these are acquisitions where Cunningham Graphics absorbs—or tucks in—companies into its existing facilities.
In Manhattan, where realtors are forcing out manufacturers, tuck-in acquisitions are booming for Cunningham Graphics. With nowhere else to turn, printing companies that lose their leases can liquidate their assets by selling equipment to Cunningham.
The final part of the acquisition strategy is taking over in-plant printing operations. By buying out corporate in-plants, Cunningham Graphics strengthens relationships with clients, generates additional revenues, adds more equipment and gains new talent.
"Many of these shops have good employees, but in some respects they are limited because they work within a graphic arts department at an investment banking firm, for example," Cunningham says.