A Focus on Customer Retention is a Key Part of Modern Litho's Growth Strategy
Topping the annual honor roll of the Printing Impressions 400 are its “Fast Track” companies: those with significantly higher rates of year-over-year revenue growth than the majority of other listees. One of the six exceptional strivers are profiled here.
Their stories reaffirm that whatever else may be said about the state of the printing industry, its enterprising business-people still know how to make money in ways that revenue leaders in any other industry would be the first to recognize and endorse.
Although it always seems a bit facile to search for “common denominators” in distinctive stories like these, our “Fast-Track Firms” do exhibit some shared traits of excellence.
One of them, surely, is staying locked onto customer satisfaction as the ultimate objective of everything that happens in the planning and the execution of a job.
Another is scrupulously measuring all steps of execution to make sure that the objective is being upheld.
Not as tangible, but no less crucial, is leadership: engendering the kind of pervasive enthusiasm that inspires pride of accomplishment as it spurs everyone in the organization to make the next job even better than the one that preceded it.
These are best practices that all printing businesses can emulate, and by publishing these exemplary vignettes, that is exactly what we are encouraging all of our readers to do. We salute the Fast-Track companies and to all of the other enterprises joining them on the 2019 Printing Impressions 400 list.
MODERN LITHO, JEFFERSON CITY, MO.
Most Recent Fiscal Year Sales: $40.4 Million
Previous Fiscal Year Sales: $32.3 Million
Percentage Growth: 25%
Modern Litho may be unique among printers in using a downloadable red paper airplane to convey its mission, vision, and values. One way the 82-year-old company has set its growth soaring is by always striving to be, as President and CEO Darrell Moore expresses it, “relational, not transactional” in its dealings with customers.
That means doing whatever it takes to maintain a significantly high rate of customer retention because, as Moore explains, “we all know it’s much more effective to retain an existing customer and grow business in that account than to acquire a new one.”
The company is so serious about safeguarding its image among customers that it uses a metric called Net Promoter Score to find out who its “promoters” and “detractors” are. Any clients found to be in the latter category get a special outreach aimed at winning their loyalty back.
The rest of Modern Litho’s growth formula is, according to Greg Meeker, VP of sales and marketing, “a combination of tangibles and intangibles:” strategic acquisitions, technology investments, and the company’s strong reputation in its national and regional marketplaces.
Growth by acquisition continued for Modern Litho during the PI 400 reporting period with the addition of Kansas City-based James Printing, in 2018. The present platform consists of five production plants comprising a total of 186,000 sq. ft. Together, the sites offer customers a rich mix of services, including magazines and publications; commercial, digital, and variable data printing; wide-format and display graphics; mailing and logistics; online print and storefront solutions; interactive print and media; and creative support.
Complementary capabilities across the platform help Modern Litho find “the right fits for each one of our customers’ jobs” as needs arise, says Jeff Davidson, VP of corporate strategy. For example, Jefferson City can call upon the straight-printing 40˝ equipment at the former James Printing plant in Kansas City when it needs that type of sheetfed printing done, returning the favor with output from its long perfectors.
“Our investments are focused on being the best sheetfed print provider possible,” Davidson says. The pace of capital investment stayed strong this year as the Jefferson City plant installed an eight-color Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106 perfector and a Muller Martini Alegro perfect binder. In 2018, all of the plants acquired color and black-and-white digital presses from Ricoh.
Meeker says the company’s technology investment decisions “have the goal of either enhancing our administrative and manufacturing efficiencies or enhancing our customers’ experience.” This, he contends, is what ultimately improves customer attraction and retention, and creates a preference for Modern Litho in the market.
Meeker’s answer to the question of what the company will do to sustain its business momentum is crisply pragmatic. “Grow or die — or maybe improve or die,” he says. “That doesn’t necessarily have to be top-line revenue, but it does have to show up on the P&L.”
Simply put, “we will strive to leverage one opportunity into another.”