PI 400 Fast-Track Company: Push Solutions Is More Than a Manufacturing Organization
Push Solutions, New Berlin, Wis.
Most Recent Fiscal Year Sales: $8.6 Million
Previous Fiscal Year Sales: $6.2 Million
Percentage Growth: 38%
In August 2012, Brad Flagge, Nick Bova and Craig Inglish — long-time printing industry colleagues — purchased an existing company (Lithographics of Wisconsin) and rebuilt it. Push Solutions started with nine employees, nine pieces of equipment and less than $1 million in sales.
“We had to do a lot with a small amount of equipment in the early years,” notes Flagge who serves as president and CEO-operations and finance.
Fast forward to 2018; sales are nearly $9 million, there are 38 full-time employees (in peak season that amount increases to 50), operating in two facilities. The amount of equipment for its digital, offset and wide-format services, has more than tripled, to 28. And from 2016 to 2017, the company experienced a growth rate of 38%.
All in all, not a bad six years.
“In between our starting the company and the success we’ve been having, we found a lot of experienced people on the sidelines,” Flagge says. “We had a little bit of luck; we found employees who were critical to how we got to where we are today. In my 26 years in the industry, our core workforce is the best group of employees I’ve ever worked with.”
Push Solutions is very strong in retail marketing support and national distribution, producing dynamic and static kit packing, working with plastics and synthetics, providing traditional commercial print products, and functioning as supply chain managers. While Push Solutions offers a large range of product offerings, the company’s wide product portfolio serves as the net to capture the largest amount of opportunities and, ultimately, customers, according to Flagge.
To capture those opportunities, it depends on a pair of RMGT 920 Series sheetfed offset presses equipped with LED-UV curing; a Xerox iGen 4 digital press; a Kama diecutter; Stahl folders and stitchers; Polar cutters; and a Fuji Acuity LED-UV wide-format printer.
Flagge points to several reasons for the company’s rapid growth path. These include “our employees, who were the foundation for our growth and were agile enough to handle the increasing and rapidly changing workload we encountered; our customers, for partnering with us and presenting some key business shaping opportunities; and our decision to move away from conventional printing and adopt a full LED-UV pressroom and partner with RMGT and Graphco.”
The switch to LED-UV allowed Push to look at different substrates (and markets) as opportunities rather than roadblocks. These substrates include vinyl, poly plastics, styrene, glitter boards, clear plastics and magnetic receptive materials.
Knowing its core market, Push looks for complementary markets to diversify its product offerings. “We challenge ourselves by asking what an offset company would (or should) look like in five, 10 and 15 years from now,” Flagge says.
The company takes a very measured approach to capital investment, investing in the areas where the opportunities presented themselves. “We do not deploy a ‘build it and they will come' strategy," he adds.
Management describes Push Solutions as a service-based business with printing as its by-product. “We fight the idea that we are a manufacturing organization; we are a service organization,” Flagge stresses.
To that end, “we focus on creating a culture that is all about the customer experience,” Flagge says. “If our customers don’t find it easy to work with us, ultimately the printing doesn’t matter.”
Push Solutions is currently looking to increase the capacity and services in the large-format side of its business, with a possible new machine on the floor early in Q1 2019. It is “very interested in the packaging arena,” according to Flagge, and is also exploring more LED-UV specialty coating capabilities with its presses, as well as closely watching new inkjet manufacturing platforms.