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Jun 1, 2000 12:00 AM

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Outstanding economy, technology, employees and attitude propel growth

For the past seven years, we have teamed with the National Assn. for Printing Leadership (NAPL)(Paramus, NJ) to present the Top 50 Fastest Growing Printers awards. To be eligible, graphic arts firms had to be in business for at least three years and have sales of more than one million during 1999. Winners were selected based on percent of sales growth from 1997 to 1999.

You will find some familiar names among this year's Top 50. "This will be the fifth time in six years that we made the group," observes John Berthelsen, president, Suttle Press (Waunakee, WI). "More importantly, in addition to achieving this kind of consistent growth, we have also maintained a much better than average profitability for the same period."

We agree that fast growth isn't always a reliable indicator of profitability. But, while making comparisons solely based on percentage of revenue growth does have some potential drawbacks, the advantages to this are simplicity and objectivity.

In addition to supplying their profit range for the past three years, we ask participants to identify the factors behind this growth. While some growing companies were content to let the numbers speak for themselves, others offered some pithy explanations. "Great economy. Good marketing. Good sales strategy," was the succinct reply from Classic Graphics (Charlotte, NC). In the same vein, Versatile Card Manufacturing (Downers Grove, IL) wrote: "Technology, less waste and good economy." "The explosive growth of Las Vegas," echoed Las Vegas Color Graphics.

We also ask participants to tell us what makes them unique. Many credited their employees. "Our employees are all dedicated, hard-working individuals," reports Mallard Press (Lombard, IL). "Customers recognize their loyalty and reward us with work." Earth Color Corp. (New York City) wrote that "the owners recognize that people are the heart of any successful business and attract the very best talent for all areas of the company."

Technology is also putting some printers on the fast track. Colorado Printing Co. (Grand Junction, CO) cited "total digital workflow, from T-1 input; CTP output. Quick turn on quality four-color."

"We enable our clients to take their creative printed products and market them both nationally and internationally via the World Wide Web," noted DPS Printing Services (Edmond, OK).

Primary Color Printing (Culver City, CA) offers services "ranging from digital photography and master retouching to CTP printing and asset management. These services, along with technical savvy and superlative service all under one roof, make our clients come back for more."

NICHE MARKETS Others have captured niche markets. "[We] service specialty markets with quality printing and bindery capabilities," reported Brogan Printing Co. (Alpha, NJ). "This includes having the first Didde Glazer half-web UV press capable of up to eight-color UV printing with roll-to-roll or roll-to-sheet output. Our bindery has specialty designed micro/miniature folders that supply inserts and outserts down to 7/8 inch, both glued and unglued."

Some of our fast growers have found that sticking to the basics contributes to their competitiveness. "Service, service, service," is the mantra of Copy Solutions, Inc. (Brentwood, TN).

We salute the quality, excellence, management skills and teamwork of the 2000 Top 50 Fastest Growing Printers. We know that there are some stellar companies not represented on this list. Copyright Printing (Austin, TX), number one in the 1999 Fastest Growing rankings, has a wonderful explanation for its absence: "We were too busy to fill out the form!" If you missed our deadline, we hope you'll participate in our 2001 program. Look for our call for entries early next year. You might follow Keith Sevigny's example. "Here is our application for the Fastest Growing Printing Awards," Sevigny, vice president of Chromatic Inc., (Glendale, CA) advised us this past March. "So save room in your June issue for us!"

to FIVE-time winner Suttle Press to FOUR-time winner Consolidated Graphics to THREE-time winners APS International Arkansas Graphics Best Press Inc. Brogan Printing Classic Graphics The Yankee Printer