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NEXTGEN: Young Leaders

March 31, 2012


EXECUTIVE DEVELOPMENT IS NOT A FAD at Consolidated Graphics (CGX). For more than a dozen years, the company has nutured the next generation of graphic arts executives via its Leadership Development Program (LDP).

"We look for people with a history of accomplishment and success, and then we teach them about print," said Joe Davis in his 2011 WTT CEO of the Year acceptance speech.


LDP associates complete a three-phase training program: production (hands-on experience in all aspects of print manufacturing); business and a leadership track. It is generally a three-year process, but the duration varies because the training is tailored to each individual.

Consolidated Graphics currently consists of 70 companies in 27 states as well as some international initiatives. Many acquisitions can be attributed to an aging industry. Printers who started their own companies or ran their families' businesses are nearing retirement age and need an exit strategy. Following the acquisition, many former owners often elect to stay, but if and when then leave, CGX is prepared.

"LDP is a big contributor to our success," says Executive Vice President Ric Davis. "We not only have the equipment but people who can do something with it."


Veritas Document Solutions, a Chicago-area Consolidated Graphics Co., didn’t need to look far for help as it geared up for its HP T200 Color Inkjet Web press installation this past fall.

Greg Ward, a graduate of the LDP program, had gained an excellent grounding in all things digital print with Mercury, a TN-based Consoli­dated company that specializes in digital output for photo clients.

Ward majored in communica­tions at Florida State and sold radio advertising after graduating. “Adver­tising wasn’t for me,” he says. “I was doing a lot of cold calling which I felt anyone could do. With the Consoli­dated Graphics program, I thought I could be a resource. I wanted to be someone the customer could look to for help vs. just someone who called each week asking for business.”

Associates in the program work in production, estimating, customer service, purchasing and accounting before ultimately moving into senior sales and management positions within the company. Initially, Ward joined a $5 million offset and digital facility in Florida, StorterChilds. “I enjoyed produc­tion,” he says. “Working in the bindery and on press was interest­ing. Once I started in the estimat­ing department, I could see where efficiency could make money. I liked the business-level decision making.”

Almost two years ago, Veritas landed a significant insurance cus­tomer. Michelle Steinberg, President of Veritas, invited Ward to join the Chicago-area company to manage the digital department and take the lead with the new client. Eventually Ward became the link between IT, production and the rest of Veritas. He helped analyze the business case for the new HP T200 press.

“It’s exciting,” he says. “We can offer a fully variable commercial inkjet environment. Not a whole lot of people are there yet. These presses are being utilized for publishing, transpromo and direct mail. There aren’t many companies doing fully four-color, variable long-run jobs with sensitive data.”


Joe Davis says training young people provides him with tremendous personal and professional satisfac­tion: “At all of our locations, we’re learning from each other,” he says. “Having the people to keep up with evolving technologies is a big advantage.”

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