2012 Hall of Fame: Volker Petersen - Smooth Sailing to Success
"Instead of canceling, they still brought me to Waseca to have the interview, despite the fact that the roof collapsed and two employees died," Petersen remarks. "The company was so focused on fulfilling the catalog location opening, despite all of that, they still found the time to interview me. That showed me the company understands the importance of hiring good employees, and valuing their contributions. Ultimately, that was a decision-maker for me."
Petersen has certainly boosted his frequent flyer miles while with Brown Printing. His first assignment in 1988 was to participate in the startup of prepress facilities in Franklin, KY, and Riverside, CA. In 1996, he transferred back to Hamburg to take responsibility as the manager of controlling for the Gruner + Jahr printing division. When the company acquired Graftek Press in 1997, Petersen whisked back over the Atlantic and took the helm as vice president and general manager of the new Woodstock (IL) Div.
"In 1997, we made the decision to focus on the magazine and catalog markets," Petersen remarks. "We sold the insert division on the West Coast, sold our Franklin, KY, plant and made some acquisitions—all in the same year. We bought Graftek, added the printing arm of Kendall Publishing and entered into a long-term agreement to print their products. The whole realignment and strategic focus really brought Brown to where it is today."
On the Move Again
After spearheading the integration of Graftek Press, Petersen was on the move again, returning to Hamburg, Germany, as the managing director of the Gruner + Jahr printing division, with leadership responsibility for all printing operations, including Brown Printing. He provided oversight in 2005 when Gruner + Jahr merged its rotogravure printing operations with Axel Springer and Bertelsmann Arvato to form Prinovis. Two years later, Petersen was able to settle into his current role.