Hall of Fame--Frick Builds Empires Via M&A, Operations
"Ray gets involved with his business; he doesn't sit up in his ivory tower," Feige remarks. "He makes sure his business functions like a well-oiled machine."
Having served roughly one-third of his career with privately held companies and two-thirds with publicly traded corporations, Frick has a unique vantage point when it comes to recognizing the similarities and differences in which they conduct business.
"With giant, public companies, it's increasingly clear that they're managing business to optimize earnings per share," he says. "This is the inevitable imperative of the ownership of public printing companies by institutional investors and private investors. Privately held, middle-market providers like Lehigh endeavor to balance economic results with a high degree of customer flexibility and service intimacy. We hope, as a private company, our response to the uniqueness of individual customers is a little more personal."
A part of the reason Frick has remained in commercial printing for more than 30 years is the industry's ability to change, evolve and reinvent itself, yet in many ways retain a grass-roots, old-school image.
"I find this industry unendingly exciting," he says. "It's large, diverse, fragmented, always evolving and ever changing. It's more than just a business—the printing industry is an art, a craft, a science and a technology. Much of our $160 billion industry remains custom, specialty, job shop, non-contract, highly transactional, very relational, fragile and even perishable. Ours is a genuinely unique industry because of these dynamics."
But, it is not an industry without flaws. Frick is concerned that, while the fiscal parameters of consolidation have been largely mastered, the delicate and more complicated process of effective integration has not been fully realized. It is the human element in consolidation that compels Frick to speak on the topic at various industry functions, including the annual Merger & Acquisition Con-ference this past April. A member of the Web Offset Association's board of directors, he has spoken to PIA groups on various topics such as direct mail printing and in-line finishing.