IF YOU were writing a historical novel based on the real-life saga of a graphic arts business that had to reinvent itself—again and again—over the course of several decades, Metzgers Printing + Mailing would serve as the perfect case history. Founded as a typesetter in 1976, the Toledo, OH-based company rode the desktop publishing (DTP) wave in the mid-’80s to become a DTP service bureau, before transitioning itself into a color copy center and then a color separations business.
CONVENTIONAL INDUSTRY wisdom seemed to favor large, publicly traded commercial printing enterprises. They operated with lower cost structures than their often smaller, privately held competitors, in part due to their ability to negotiate better prices for consumables like paper and ink, along with company healthcare and operating insurance premiums. They maintained deep pockets to fund continuous capital improvement expenditures for the most automated machinery and workflow platforms available, enabling higher job productivity and better employee utilization company-wide. They leveraged their ability to cross-sell products and services to a diverse customer base within a bevy of markets. They attracted the best talent; people sought them