Fetter Realigns Business; Shifts Focus Away from Commercial Printing
LOUISVILLE, KY—12/07/06—After 118 years in business, Fetter Printing Company has completely overhauled its management structure as well as its vision for the future, walking away from some of its traditional lines of business in order to focus on others in which it can be a market leader.
Fetter plans to focus primarily on two highly specialized markets. The first is printing labels and creating information management and logistic solutions for the paint and coatings industry, a category in which the company already is the number-two national supplier with 15% of total U.S. market share. Fetter has developed highly sophisticated systems that are custom-made for the complex, high-volume demands of customers in this niche. The company manages 25,000 SKUs and is on track in 2006 to process 63,000 separate orders and ship 140 million labels.
Fetter also has established itself as a leader in the creation and distribution of customized sales materials for the health insurance industry, which, like its work in the paint and coatings category, requires a high degree of specialized tools and software.
Although the company has had a profitable business in general commercial printing, Fetter will no longer pursue that type of work in order to focus on being a more creative problem-solving partner with its customers in both the paint and coatings and health insurance industries.
“Our growth in this market and the increased complexity of the services requested by large corporate clients require dedicated resources,” said Terrence R. Gill, Jr., recently named President and Chief Operating Officer of the company. “In the future we will not be everything to everybody but something special to those who choose to partner with Fetter. We intend to become the market leader in printing and packaging supply chain services for the paint and coatings industry, in particular.”
Fetter’s transformation began in earnest in May of 2005 when the company hired Louisville-based consultant Bill Houston to evaluate the existing business model, to help identify and implement a new model that would strengthen the company, and provide a solid foundation in order for it to remain competitive well into the future.
“The commercial printing industry, overall, has been in decline for a number of years,” said Gill, “and it was clear that we needed to approach our business very differently if we wanted to survive and prosper. Bill has done a great job of putting us on that course.”
Gill, a 16-year Fetter employee, took the reins of the company on September 18, 2006, becoming just the 6th president since Fetter was founded in 1888.
Another key appointment was that of 10-year Fetter veteran Cheri L. Glass to Chief Administrative Officer & Corporate Secretary. The company is owned by about 95 of its 120 employees, none of which own more than 2% of the outstanding shares.
Gill said the transition period and the decisions made were difficult, but that Fetter is well-positioned now to expand its market share by creating improvements in the overall process. For example, Fetter has developed customized automation tools that help reduce its customers’ reliance on large inventories by reducing its printing cycle time while improving the flow and management of its customers’ information. This fundamental change in the supply chain pioneered by Fetter allows the company to pass efficiencies along to customers in the form of reduced cost and greater speed and flexibility.
The company also plans to introduce a content management software program next year that knows what copy is on every label produced for the paint and coatings industry. If an ingredient listed on some labels needs to be changed, the program will be able to provide a list of all labels that have that ingredient.
“We’re capitalizing on the collective years of our employees’ knowledge, wisdom, and experience about our clients’ industry and business to improve the speed to market of their products,” Gill explained. “Our employees have embraced the transition from being a manufacturing organization to one that is developing practical technology solutions to address very specific customer needs.”