This year’s recipient of the Web Offset Association’s Harry V. Quadracci VISION Award might seem like an obvious choice, due to some family connections. Yet, it’s been hard work, determination and technological innovation that propelled Thomas A. Quadracci to the top of America’s largest privately held printer, not his last name.
Quadracci will be presented with the eighth annual VISION Award on May 22 during the WOA conference. The honor was named after Quad/Graphics’ late founder and Thomas’ older brother, Harry Quadracci, who was the inaugural recipient in 1999.
The timing of the award also couldn’t be better. Currently, chairman and CEO of Quad/Graphics, Tom Quadracci has decided to retire at the end of this year—a date coinciding with the company’s and his 35th year employment anniversary. “I believe it is the appropriate time to transition leadership to the next generation,” he says.
Harry’s Quadracci’s son, Joel Quadracci, assumes the president and CEO post effective July 1. Tom Quadracci will serve as executive chairman of the board of directors until fully retiring from the company on December 31.
As the son of a printer, Tom Quadracci grew up surrounded by the graphic arts industry. His father started a small business in his family’s garage, which became the W.A. Krueger company, a leader in the early days of web offset.
“I really got some ink in my blood during a strike that the company went through while I was in college in the late ’60s,” says Quadracci. “I was enlisted to work in the pressroom and, after a few weeks, became a first pressman on a six-color ATF web press.”
But it was marine biology, not printing, as the career path Quadracci had envisioned. He graduated from Regis University in Denver, with a B.S. degree in biology and psychology, and then moved to California to study organic chemistry at Stanford University.
Quadracci received a letter from his draft board and wound up back home in Milwaukee. Coincidentally, his brother Harry was planning the inception of Quad/Graphics. “The concept was exciting and I decided to contribute what I could to get the business started,” he recalls.
In 1971, Harry and Tom founded Quad/Graphics in Pewaukee, WI. He then spent the last 35 years in various capacities as an instrumental force for its growth and success.
Quadracci helped establish QuadTech, a research and design division of Quad/Graphics, in 1979. As the division’s president, he oversaw the development of computerized controls for web press and finishing equipment, both for Quad/Graphics’ use and to market to other printers. Under his leadership, QuadTech flourished worldwide, with products sold in 85 countries.
As Quad/Graphics’ executive vice president, he oversaw capital expenditure and financial planning for the entire company, guided the corporation’s international expansion, and directed Quad’s selection and integration of equipment and technology. He was named president and CEO of Quad/Graphics in July of 2002. Additionally, he oversaw the legal, financial and construction services, and provided support for subsidiaries QuadTech, QuadMed, CRT and international partnerships.
Quadracci has presided over a multitude of achievements during his tenure, from being a pioneer in automatic register control for web offset, to building international operations and the founding of QuadTech.
But what he loves most about the business is the people. From the clients who have supported the company, to dedicated employees and supplier partners, he says the people make all the difference.
Quadracci is also proud of his family, especially his wife Susan. “She has supported me in the tough times and been an important part of building my career while, at the same time, raising our two wonderful sons.”
Quad/Graphics reports $1.9 billion in sales and was ranked #4 on the 2005 PRINTING IMPRESSIONS 400 list. The company employs 12,000, operates 20 print production locations on three continents and prints more than 1,000 titles, including National Geographic, Newsweek, Time, U.S. News & World Report, Sports Illustrated and the Victoria’s Secret catalog.