2009 Printing Industry Hall of Fame: A Forward Thinker
"We had nine different plate sizes in our printing operation, so we looked at consolidating and getting more efficient," he says. "We went down to three plate sizes and chose the 40˝ format as our primary focus. In 1992, we bought our first 40˝, six-color Heidelberg, then purchased a four-color model in 1993, a five-color in 1994 and a two-color in 1995."
Hayes entertained the idea of selling his company during this period, which was ripe with consolidator rollup firms. Friends of his had sold their plants, but something about selling Omaha Print didn't feel right to Hayes. Instead, he used the proceeds from the sale of the office products business to buy out the remaining shareholders (many trusts that dated back to the 1920s) and went full bore into pure printing.
To grow, Hayes shifted the focus to web printing, which would carry the company to customers beyond the traditional 150-mile radius of Omaha. First came a five-color Zirkon half-web, then a full-web Baker Perkins G14 was obtained in 2005. A 30,000-square-foot addition was added to accommodate the new iron. A couple of the 40˝ sheetfed presses were sold.
Hayes' biggest challenge to date is the same one the rest of the industry—and the entire country— is facing: The Great Recession of 2009. "To say we weren't prepared for something like this would be half true," he admits. "We didn't think anything could be this severe. We did have plans in place for something happening that we had no control over, but I don't think anyone expected it to be this bad."
Throwback Yet Visionary
Hayes' biggest influence in printing has been his father, Harvey. As father-son business relationships go, Harvey and Steve Hayes have enjoyed a nontraditional experience.
"Working with him has been a wonderful experience; none of that competition between us like you see so often," he says. "We've always respected and advised each other. He's even let me make some decisions that he knew were wrong, but felt it was a better learning experience for me."
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