Fast-Track Firms--Leaps and Bounds
In March of 1998, Nationwide Graphics bought its first company, a Las Vegas printer. The second acquisition, a Miami-based operation, came in July of that same year. The third buy hit the following September, an Atlanta-based printing operation.
The three companies churned out a combined $32 million in sales for Nationwide Graphics that year. Plus, an added bonus, as Nationwide Graphics acquired its first three organizations, it absorbed the executive-level brainpower of several printing industry veterans—giving Norton and Hyde perhaps the only element yet missing from their consolidation equation: The insider edge.
February 1999 saw the acquisition of two more companies, one in Georgia and one in Miami. One more followed shortly thereafter, in June of 1999, in Austin, TX. In August, two more printers—in Florida and Texas—joined Nationwide Graphics.
How did Norton and Hyde do it?
"It takes a good business plan; we are very particular about the kinds of companies we acquire," Norton states. "Each must be a high-margin business that has been consistently profitable. We are not out on any wild goose chases. The companies must meet specific financial and growth criteria, then they must pass our final test—a meeting with our advisory board of directors."
That is where Nationwide Graphics' insider edge proves invaluable. The advisory board is made up entirely of graphic arts professionals from Nationwide's acquired companies. "They are very in tune, obviously, with what makes a printing company great," Norton says. "Our advisory board can be the toughest critics of any prospect company's best practices protocol. They analyze every detail of a printing company, from its estimating practices to its business model to the business manner of its chief executives."
What's in store for this fast-track firm in the year 2000?
"We have a concept, not unique to the consolidation we're now seeing in the printing industry, to try to get clusters of companies around high-usage areas. As a result, you won't find Nationwide Graphics in Fargo [ND]," Norton states.