Wallace?A Commercial Success
Three years ago, Moore Corp. launched a hostile takeover attempt for Wallace. In the long run, the experience brought more pluses than minuses. For example, Wallace's workers proved their loyalty by rallying around their employer, producing the results necessary for Wallace to remain independent. Staff accepted new technologies and services without question.
"Employees embraced the changes we were implementing for customers a lot faster than they would have in a normal environment," Samson notes.
In the end, Moore's failed takeover energized Wallace, according to Leatherman. Wallace, which had finished 1994 with $400 million in sales, grew to $906 million in 1997. With the addition of Graphic Industries, Wallace should close '98 with $1.5 billion in revenues.
Leatherman points out that the attempted takeover by Moore didn't do any real damage to Wallace. It did, however, teach the company some valuable lessons. "It provided us with a very good perspective on the human side of being acquired," Leatherman offers.
During the acquisition of Graphic Industries, Wallace demonstrated its empathy with a communications program. "They put together a video that answered a lot of questions," Herring notes. "It covered a lot of the ground that people had concerns with—everything from benefits to sales commissions. They sent videos and annual reports to each company. They made people feel welcome and answered questions when asked."
Once Graphic Industries' staff members saw they had nothing to lose, they could appreciate what they had gained. They kept their jobs, their companies kept their names—with "A Wallace Company" tacked on the end. And they helped create a large network of 49 companies capable of providing local services to a national clientele. Best of all, they found themselves part of an organization that boasted more than just size.
"We're not just creating another large printer," Herring emphasizes. "This is a company that provides services from A to Z. It can answer all of the needs of the customer—from printing to inventory management. Nobody in the industry can offer all the services we can offer at the level we can offer them."