Challenges Aplenty in Rationalizing the Combined Quad/Graphics and Worldcolor
This lack of firsthand innovation experience and technology awareness by Worldcolor’s journeyman operators and entire management team will be an extremely difficult cultural chasm to breech.
This deal may be exciting from the merged balance sheet and even superficial marketing perspectives. However, Quad’s operations team has never ever had this kind of a challenge to boot strap a printer of this size before. It is interesting that Joel Quadracci put Mark Angelson, Worldcolor’s CEO, in charge of the integration and consolidation effort. Angelson has had extensive experience—formerly with RR Donnelley—in this mergers and acquisition game and therefore the rationalization task. And Quadracci and his operations team have had no experience at all in this area. The danger is that Angelson has never lived nor experienced the Quad culture and would therefore not be expected to know how to preserve that mystic.
Moving select senior operations leaders from proven Quad plants to the strongest Worldcolor plants (to be retained) may seem like common sense since that is exactly what Quad did for every new plant start up in its own history. However, new employees of new Quad plants often with marginal printing experience knew that they were “clay to be molded” and had the right attitude about this necessary learning curve. Worldcolor’s journeymen operators may instead suggest, “We’ve never found that to be the best way to run this equipment.” They may resist relearning what they consider to be the basics of their jobs.
I’m not trying to suggest that World Color does not have good equipment operators or operational management teams. They simply, for much of their entire careers, have never been given leading edge tools and resources to use. They’ve always had to make do. Having the best and being the best is second nature to the Quad DNA.