DLT Direct--Playing to Win
The company began with an idea in 1989, when Dave Taylor became a print broker, handling direct mail printing in the Baltimore-Washington-northern Virginia market. But Taylor wanted to do it all—manufacturing, too. Chet Ruby literally grew up in manufacturing. He was then managing sheetfed manufacturing operations for a prominent Baltimore printer. Working together on jobs there, the two found they "clicked" as a team. In 1992, they planned their expansion into manufacturing.
"We didn't know exactly when we'd start," Taylor recalls, "but we ran-out years of projected income and cash flow to test the feasibility of our idea. We built DLT Direct on paper, then assured ourselves it would be a success, long before we actually took the first step."
That business plan and its figures next went to the bankers, which resulted in a financing commitment. Meanwhile, Taylor had personally put a deposit on a large plant space and on a used six-color Didde web press. A complement of folders, cutters and prep equipment were also being held by deposits he'd paid.
Key employee-candidates had been told that a start date was at hand. But, in that fateful first inning, the banker's game turned to hardball. Suddenly, the bank that made the loan commitment was bought-out. The new owner's loan policy excluded startups. It withdrew the commitment, pitching DLT Direct a curve. The company was back on first base.
As the two regrouped, a new opportunity came. Taylor learned of a printer that was going out of business. He was quickly able to negotiate a takeover of some of its assets, including its facility. But it was no "move-in" situation. The building was in bad shape: run-down and filthy. Its electrical wiring was inadequate. Lots of work was needed.
Yet, Taylor, Ruby and their wives were able to look beyond the grimy present and see a gleaming future. Working round-the-clock, they cleaned and painted. Meanwhile, electricians rewired and contractors remodeled. When the renovation was finished, the exhausted Taylors and Rubys celebrated in DLT Direct's soon-to-be pressroom—with pizza and champagne.