PEARL PRESSMAN LIBERTY COMMUNICATIONS GROUP — REMAKING HISTORY
It all started in 1906, when two teenagers, working in a Philadelphia print shop, decided to go out on their own. The sons of Russian and Latvian immigrants, Manuel Pearl and Charles Pressman scraped together $60 and purchased a foot-powered press, assorted type and some paper.
They worked out of Pressman’s bedroom in the Jeweler’s Row area of the city. On the block, there were six other printers, along with 14 jewelers, engravers, watchmakers and metal refiners. But they soon outgrew the bedroom and, by 1920, had moved twice, settling into a 5,000-square-foot space.
The company continued to grow and modernize when, in 1957, PPLCG hit a major obstacle. A fire ravaged the plant’s third floor, destroying equipment and artwork. More than $200,000 in assets were lost but, fortunately, no one was injured. The company completely refurbished the plant with new equipment and an improved production layout in just six weeks.
Several other events helped PPLCG grow into what it is today; a $25 million general commercial printer, standing at number 212 on PRINTING IMPRESSIONS’ Top 400 list in 2005:
* In 1960, PPLCG purchased Erie Printing & Publishing and expanded its bookmaking capabilities;
* The next year, it acquired Gelman Sign & Printing and planned its move to its current location;
* In the 1970s, the company was sold to California-based conglomerate Republic Corp. Unsuccessful in its attempts to grow the business, the company was sold back to the original owners a few years later;
* Newark, DE-based color separation and prepress operation Photo Color is brought into the fold in 1980, as well as a new bindery operation, allowing the company to handle jobs from start to finish;
* After decades at the helm of their father’s business, Burt Pearl and Harold Pressman sell the company to five employees in 1985. Morris Rosen, Bill Conners, David VanDusen, Manuel Pearl and Marvin Bergman take control of the company;
* In 1998, Bergman, Conners and Rosen sell their shares to PPLCG managers James Lerner, Elliot Schindler and Mitchell Weinstein.
From the beginning, Pearl and Pressman had several guiding principles: faith in each other, a strong work ethic, an optimistic spirit, a belief in doing things right and a commitment to solving customers’ problems. One hundred years later, the same philosophies are being upheld.
“PPLCG is an independent company and is owner operated,” states Schindler, principal and executive vice president of sales. “We are currently in our fourth generation. The five owners sell, manage, and run the plant and operations. Although each has a specific area of management within the operation, we view ourselves as employees.”
According to company president VanDusen, PPLCG’s corporate philosophy is to profitably supply print purchasers with top-quality graphic products. Its strategies include:
* Doing whatever it takes to get the job done in order to add value to its customers’ businesses and exceed their expectations;
* Be responsive and honest problem solvers; and
* Continually improve its processes and products.
“The job security of all PPLCG employees depends on our success in doing so,” VanDusen says.
Future Holds VDP
Another key to the future success of the company lies in variable data digital printing, which Schindler feels holds a very large growth potential for PPLCG. To date, all of the business in this area has strictly come from meeting the needs of current customers, he says. But that doesn’t mean the company won’t market and grow this business sector.
“With our business model, we generate business first and then add capacity, not the other way around,” Schindler explains. “We fully expect variable data printing to grow through customer demand. As it does, we’ll purchase additional equipment.”
In 2005, PPLCG purchased a Xerox DocuColor 8000 digital press; a two-color, 40˝ Heidelberg perfector; and various mailing equipment. Some bigger changes are also on the horizon.
“We plan to purchase a new plant to house our operations under one roof, which currently are run from four locations throughout the city,” VanDusen reports.
In the current configuration, one location houses administrative offices, prepress and printing. Another site contains bindery, kitting and fulfillment operations. A third generates mailing, and the fourth serves as the company’s warehouse.
The pharmaceutical and healthcare industries are PPLCG’s largest business sector served. It also produces work for colleges and universities, design studios and advertising agencies, as well as many Fortune 500 companies. Its geographic focus is primarily in the Mid-Atlantic states.
The company, which is ISO 9000 certified, boasts a pressroom with four six-color Mitsubishi machines with tower coaters along with the new two-color Heidelberg perfecting press. A state-of-the-art prepress area and full-service finishing department allow PPLCG to handle all of its customers needs.
“We no longer consider ourselves as printers,” Schindler explains. “Rather, we offer communications solutions. We have smart, hard-working employees who learn our customers’ needs and think outside the box to craft solutions for them.”
Lerner, who serves as principal and executive vice president of marketing, notes that PPLCG’s employees are constantly updated on new technologies so they stay ahead of the industry learning curve.
“Their training is the most important ingredient for our future success,” Lerner contends. “Webinars, conferences, industry periodicals, and involvement in our national and local printing trade associations are some of the ways we learn about new trends.”
This training and acquired industry knowledge will be an important part of VanDusen’s plan of expanding into other markets, such as variable data digital printing/one-on-one marketing, advertising specialties, packaging and pick-n-pack services.
“The future also holds a new facility and larger perfecting presses,” VanDusen concludes. “We are well-positioned to help our customers adapt to technological changes affecting the way they will market their companies.”
As it celebrates its centennial year, PPLCG continues to write its own success story.