Thursday, December 1, 2011

Political Campaign Printing Expected to Increase in 2012 Election Year

[photo courtesy of]
As the 2012 election cycle draws near, our printing companies specializing in political campaign printing are gearing up for one of the busiest, most productive seasons yet. With President Obama’s campaign expected to raise an unprecedented $1 billion, and total fundraising to exceed $6 billion (over $700 million more than in 2008), candidates are proving that in spite of a tight economy, funding can be found.

For Consolidated Graphics, this means an increased reliance on new technologies and effective communications capabilities to meet anticipated demand for printed campaign material. Russell Price, President of Mt. Vernon Printing, explains that during election season, 80 to 85 percent of the printed campaign volume will be produced within a six-week period focused around the November election. “We usually get extremely busy around September through the last week of October, peaking our production in the final two weeks before the election. It’s a lot of work in a short amount of time, with fast turnarounds.”

Overall volume during election years has seen increases over the past decade, and that trend is expected to continue with next year’s election. “Candidates are raising much more money than they did before and spending more on their campaigns in general,” Price says.

Even though social networks have become popular conduits for broadcasting campaign messages, political candidates and consultants continue to rely on direct mail. Highlighting the validity of both digital and print communications, many election campaigns are now including QR codes and links to social media sites on direct mail to better engage voters.

The most common types of mailers seen in political campaigns are, in order of volume: persuasion mail, fundraising mail, and ballots. The majority of mail printed at Mt. Vernon is persuasion mail, or collateral focused on persuading voters to vote for a particular candidate based on specific positions. These pieces are typically oversized full color postcards or brochures with simple, direct messaging, created with the purpose of catching voters’ attention as they are skimming through their mail. “Most readers review these mailers on the walk from mailbox to trash can, so you have to catch their attention during this short window in order to maximize effectiveness,” says Price.

Some mailers are pretty innovative when it comes to grabbing recipients’ attention. According to Price, a good example of this was a direct mail piece with a sound chip embedded inside, produced by Eagle Press, a fellow Consolidated Graphics company in Sacramento, California.

While printing for the presidential campaign will remain a large focus next year, it’s not Consolidated Graphics’ only forte in this space. It works with political consultants on campaigns of all types and sizes, from presidential to school board elections, providing insight and expertise throughout all stages of collateral production.

UPDATE: See PrintWeek's feature on political campaign printing, featuring CGX's Russell Price.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Veritas Celebrates Investment in Customers

There was quite a buzz on Thursday at Veritas Document Solutions, a CGX company in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, located just outside of Chicago. The main attraction was a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the recent installation of an HP T200 Color Inkjet Web press. You can read more details about the benefits of this cutting-edge technology here, but what is really special about this particular technology is that it's the first inkjet web press designed with the direct marketing needs of commercial markets in mind. At Veritas, prime customers will come from verticals such as healthcare, finance, insurance and gaming/casinos. The possibilities of what can be accomplished with the T200 are limitless, considering it provides high-volume, variable data print capabilities at a competitive price point and at very fast speeds. For example, a single HP T200 can produce 872 four-color pages per minute. Now the only limitation that Veritas and Consolidated Graphics customers will face is the creativity of their campaigns. 

The open house event included customers, suppliers, print executives and prospects interested in learning more about HP’s latest development. Veritas President Michelle Steinberg welcomed guests and reiterated the company's commitment to provide customers with the latest technology to support their businesses. "We clearly state our commitment to technology in our contracts with customers," Steinberg said, "and the HP T200 is evidence of that commitment. Our focus is now on educating them on the possibilities of this technology and showcasing the relevant communications they can create for their target audiences." Veritas and HP hosted breakout sessions that detailed the possibilities of the new equipment, and follow-up meetings will be hosted at Veritas in the weeks ahead. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

2011 Annual Shareholders Meeting

Pictured: Chief Financial Officer Jon Biro
Last week was the 2011 Consolidated Graphics Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, and as always it was quite an event. The Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Americas in downtown Houston was filled with guests, including shareholders, Leadership Development Program (LDP) Associates (CGX’s youngest and brightest talent); John Sabel, Executive Vice President of Motion Picture Creative Print for Walt Disney Studios; the Consolidated Graphics Executive Team and Board of Directors, bankers, lawyers, CGX company presidents and more. It was clear that Consolidated Graphics has a solid team supporting our success.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joe R. Davis kicked off the night with a warm welcome. Not surprisingly, technology was a major focus of the evening, from Chief Financial Officer Jon Biro’s discussion on recent and future investments, to Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing Aaron Grohs’ overview of major events and product and service developments happening within the company. Investors and guests were able to see the benefits of WorkSmart Suite™, CGX’s newly-launched collection of technology products available to customers, and learn first-hand about the level 4 security rating on the company’s brand new data center, which opened earlier this summer.

CGX continues to show significant growth in a challenging economy, showing 6% revenue growth for a total of $1.054 billion and adjusted operating income up 61%. When it seems as though nobody is hiring, we most definitely are, as we continue our search for talented company presidents and bring on 215 college graduates.

The remainder of the year looks encouraging, as political printing will bring in new profits, acquisition opportunities abound, and digital sales, which currently account for 17% of CGX’s revenues, continue to grow.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Packaging In The Retail Space

A consumer’s impression of a product inside a store begins with its packaging. The consumer reads, visualizes, feels and handles packaging before getting to the desired product, all the while building up a sense of anticipation around the product itself. Clearly, packaging differentiates a product on the shelf and ultimately contributes to consumers’ purchasing decisions.

At Consolidated Graphics, our packaging experts work with customers around the country, across all market segments, to assist them in creating effective packaging that makes a positive impression in the retail environment. Here are a few guidelines to help you create a strong presence through packaging:

Keep Your Brand Unique

A well-designed functional package influences customer perceptions and purchasing decisions considerably in the retail environment. Packaging should align with existing sales collateral and brand positioning, while helping a product stand out on the shelf.

Like other marketing elements, packaging is a communication channel that informs consumers whether a product is low or high quality, expensive or inexpensive, meant for you or meant for someone else. The shape, color and design of the package are important factors in drawing consumers toward a product and communicating the features and benefits of that product.

While you want to create a unique presence on the retail shelf or online, it’s important to keep in mind standard perceptions. Children’s toys, for example, often call for brighter colors, while executive office supplies may merit deep, rich colors. Find a way to work within these standards, but still set your products apart from the rest.

Be Safe, but Inviting

Ultimately, packaging serves as protection for the product while in transit, on store shelves, and sometimes for long-term use. That said, the container itself should also be durable enough to withstand damage, as many shoppers will push a bent, torn, or broken package aside in search of a perfect one.

It’s a fine line, however, between durability and impossibility. Just about everyone has wrestled with – and been frustrated by – those plastic electronics packages that require scissors or knives to open. Be aware of your end customer and ultimate product use, and consider the entire customer experience when designing your packaging.

Remember The Inside

The interior design of a package is often overlooked, but is an integral aspect of packaging and impacts consumer perception. Have you ever opened a box just to find cheap Styrofoam that is easily broken down inside? Packaging does not end at the exterior of the package, as consumer perceptions and brand building continue with how the item is housed within the exterior facing carton.

There are a variety of interior packaging materials such as molded pulp, partitions, foam, and thermoform packaging, all of which contribute to the consumer experience and perceived product value. Even heavier paper substrates can be die cut and folded to create a protective interior, while at the same time providing additional print space for brand messages and identity.

Consider the Environment

Many consumers consider environmental impact when making a purchase decision, and want to support products and companies with environmentally friendly practices. In fact, nearly three-quarters of U.S. consumers say they check the packaging labels as a source for environmental information about a product. Effective communication of the sustainable aspects of the product, the packaging itself, and the company can impact a consumer’s brand choice.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Through An Associates Eyes

Dalyn Winter entered the CGX Leadership Development Program in September 2009. Dalyn graduated from the University of Florida in May 2009 with a degree in Advertising. She is currently an Associate working with Graphcom, a Consolidated Graphics company in Atlanta, GA.

I’m currently a second-year Associate in Consolidated Graphics’ Leadership Development Program and hold the position of Graphcom’s intercompany sales representative. In this capacity, I work directly with both our sister companies and internal personnel. I’m responsible for writing up quote requests for current and potential clients, which are then forwarded to our estimators for pricing. Once finalized, I then submit the estimate back to the sister company.

From the outside this might seem to be a simple process, but each quote is different and often requires multiple revisions and updates -- which has helped me understand the importance of details. No matter how small they appear, these details can make a great impact on the final project. Some of the challenges I face in this role include quick deadlines or a layout change, which has taught me to anticipate -- or even expect -- a possible obstacle to overcome. My number one priority is to ensure each job is not only on schedule, but also accurate. This can only be done through preparation and attention to detail – something I have learned in my experience as an Associate.

Like many LDP Associates, my responsibilities vary as I continue to rotate throughout the company, learning each process of the business. Some of the additional duties I perform at Graphcom range from organizing incoming and outgoing inventory in the warehouse to presenting CrossMedia opportunities, and a variety of tasks that fall in between. Being exposed to the entire business allows me to further understand how each area fits together as one, resulting in a great product.

As an Associate, I’ve learned that flexibility and time management are essential to thrive in the printing industry. The commercial printing process operates with “real time” deadlines and therefore it’s crucial to be effective at multitasking, often moving from one job to the next without missing a beat.

Additionally, this past fall I became Graphcom’s LDP Recruitment and Onboarding Coordinator, where I work closely with CGX’s LDP team while also reaching out to future Associate candidates. In this role I attend campus career fairs and serve as Graphcom’s point of contact for all potential LDP Associates and CGX’s LDP team. It is my responsibility to reach out to potential candidates within 48 hours of receiving their resume, organize on-site interviews for all LDP candidates and communicate interview status updates. Recruiting is only the first step in this process. Once a candidate accepts the offer, the next course of action is to complete the onboarding process and ensure all is in order prior to the new Associate’s first day of work. As someone who was recently in the same position as current college students, it’s rewarding to work with them and expose them to the great opportunities available at CGX.

My career at CGX is providing me with an experience in a wide variety of duties, and each responsibility brings with it its own challenges and learned experiences. I’ve been given the chance to learn first-hand from Graphcom and CGX team members, which has been invaluable. I welcome the opportunity to learn even more about the print industry and all that CGX has to offer its customers!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Jim Cohen Keynote Speaker

Jim Cohen, Executive Vice President, Mergers and Acquisitions, here at Consolidated Graphics, Inc., will be the keynote speaker at this summer’s Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors (AM&AA) Summer Conference to be held July 19-21 at the Hilton Chicago.

The theme of the conference is “Heating Up: M&A on the Rise,” and will focus on today’s merger and acquisition environment. There will be more than 400 attendees at the conference, including intermediaries, private equity sources, strategic and mezzanine investors, attorneys, CPAs, and other M&A professionals.

Cohen will be speaking on July 20th at 8:10 a.m, and will address why Consolidated Graphics’ approach to acquisitions is both unique and highly successful.

To read more about where Cohen will be giving his keynote presentation, visit the conference blog.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Emerge™ 2011 a Smashing Success

This year’s emerge conference in Dallas, Texas was a rousing success, enabling CGX customers, business executives, print leaders, and equipment and technology developers to come together to share the latest marketing and technology innovations that are positioning companies for success. From personalized conference materials to grand format floor coverings, the Hyatt Regency in downtown Dallas was transformed with the presence of emerge. With nearly 1,000 attendees, this year’s conference was full of highlights, including:

• Keynote speakers Eileen Gittins (Founder and CEO, Blurb), John Sabel (Executive Vice President, Motion Picture Creative Print Marketing, Walt Disney Studios), Jamey Rootes (President, Houston Texans), and Don Pettit (Chairman and CEO, Mally Beauty),
• The announcement of CGX’s new cloud computing data center and WorkSmart Suite™ collection of marketing solutions,
• The announcement of the 1st Annual Encore™Award winners,
• 49 educational breakout sessions for attendees to learn and exchange ideas,
• The business expo, which gave attendees the opportunity to see the excellent work being done by CGX companies, suppliers and customers, and
• A live demonstration of Adobe’s Creative Suite 5.5.

And who could forget the party at Cowboys Stadium for all attendees? Conference guests had the opportunity to see this world-renowned stadium up close and take part in a wide selection of football games to show off their athletic ability on the same field as professional NFL players.

All of the keynote speakers gave attendees great advice and takeaways from their speeches. For example, Eileen Gittins stated that “taking something to print means that it matters,” and Jamey Rootes told the audience “you should push yourself to the limits, and if you’re not then you aren’t doing your job to the best of your ability.” Each speaker gave his or her own perspective about what it takes to be successful in business.

“Emerge is a great event that helps move print forward, giving people from all over the opportunity to come together and share experiences and expertise with each other,” stated Aaron Grohs, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Consolidated Graphics.

Next year’s emerge conference will take place in New Orleans, April 17-20, 2012.

For a comprehensive news report about the event, visit WhatTheyThink.

Friday, April 29, 2011

CDS Publications Brings a Little Bit of Royalty to Consolidated Graphics

With the world captivated by the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, we’re pleased to announce that CDS Publications, a Consolidated Graphics company, was a part of it. Well, maybe not on the ground in London, but in the world of comics they were.

CDS Publications, which is located in Medford, OR, produced Bluewater Productions’ latest comic book, “Fame: The Royals.” The comic book delves into many aspects of the lives of Great Britain’s royal couple, Prince William and Kate Middleton, from their wedding planning and dress possibilities, to where they might choose to honeymoon.

“Fame: The Royals” was released to the public in April. CDS Publications also printed a limited release collector’s edition, which is a 40-page soft-cover perfect bound book. The collector’s edition will be available to the public in May.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

LDP Achieves Record-Breaking Growth

At Consolidated Graphics we understand that professional development is the key not only to our success, but also to our team members’ success as well. And that’s why our CEO, Joe Davis, created the Leadership Development Program (LDP).

In 1991, the first Leadership Development Program was founded with a handful of “Associates” participating in the program. Flash forward 19 years, and a record 100 Associates were enrolled during the 2010 summer session, with an additional 81 added to the roster the following fall. More than 450 participants have graduated from the program over the years – with 22 former Associates now serving in the capacity of President of a Consolidated Graphics company.

“The Leadership Development Program plays an integral and invaluable role at CGX,” said Rody Grant, director of Recruiting, Training, & Development at Consolidated Graphics. “We give Associates a hands-on opportunity to learn every aspect of the commercial printing process. Once they finish the Leadership Development Program, Associates are well prepared to begin a specific career track with the tools CGX has provided them.”

Once Associates enter the Program, they have the opportunity to learn from management teams across Consolidated Graphics. Each Associate rotates through all aspects of the business, from production to leadership training. Upon completion of the Program they choose a position within a CGX company that best fits their interests and skills.

We continue to recruit the best and the brightest for the LDP. We’re visiting more than 50 campuses across the country and we look forward to seeing who will join our next group of future Consolidated Graphics leaders!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ironwood And Heritage Merge Together

Ironwood Lithographers and Heritage Graphics, two CGX companies located in the Phoenix, AZ, area, have merged into one great graphic communications company that will operate under the Ironwood Lithographers name. Together , the two profitable companies will provide an even greater range of services to their clients.

Heritage Graphics brings a successful track record and stellar reputation to the Ironwood operation, and with Ironwood’s centralized location in Tempe and the backing of Consolidated Graphics, the merger will make the company a formidable competitor in the Southwest region.

For more information, please read the press release.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cyril-Scott Implements ReadSmart Technology

When mail arrives, most consumers go through a quick process of dividing the contents into two piles: one to read, and one to recycle. Cyril-Scott, a Consolidated Graphics company based in Lancaster, Ohio, is working hard to make sure that more mail falls into that “read” pile, but now they’re taking it one step further, helping their customers’ audiences actually respond to what they receive and read. How are they doing it? With ReadSmart technology.

ReadSmart is a software tool based on scientific research that improves typesetting by subtly emphasizing words and phrases for the reader’s eye, creating a greater impact during reading. These subtle changes range from the spacing of letters and words to lines break within text. While these might be small changes that go unnoticed to the typical reader, by serving to energizing copy they make a large impact with respect to reader comprehension.

Cyril-Scott began offering ReadSmart to its customers this past October. The technology has allowed their clients, whether it’s through a direct mail campaign or other print materials that require a response from consumers, to receive increased feedback and retention. 

“At Cyril-Scott we’re always looking to new innovations and breakthroughs that will improve the product for our clients,” said Matt Coltharp, president of Cyril-Scott. “ReadSmart underscore our commitment in using the most effective technology to improve results, and serves as a great value-add for our clients and their campaigns.”

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Consolidated Graphics Leads the Industry in Financial Strength

In our most recent earnings release on February 2, 2011 Consolidated Graphics once again demonstrated industry leadership in terms of innovation and financial strength. We met with Jon Biro, chief financial officer of Consolidated Graphics, to talk about what this means to our customers and investors.

Consolidated Graphics will continue to invest in new technology. “Technology is advancing faster than ever before, and has become an integral component to creating more relevant print collateral. From data security to a world-leading digital infrastructure, Consolidated Graphics will continue to expand the breadth and quality of its service offerings. We’ve invested over $100 million into technology over the last four years, including building the world’s largest digital print platform. We’re seeing a huge benefit from this investment in terms of digital sales growth, and have the financial wherewithal to maintain this leadership position as technology evolves.”

We have staying power. “At a time when many smaller print companies are struggling financially, CGX has shown that we’re here to stay. Both customers and investors can take comfort in the fact that we are continuing to grow, both organically and through acquisitions.”

We are positioned to grow. “CGX maintains solid relationships with our bank group, and has immediate access to capital. When a business acquisition opportunity presents itself, as it often does, we’re positioned to act quickly and pay cash to acquire a company that has proven to be a strategic fit.”

Biro believes that Consolidated Graphics is making investments in the right technologies, at the right time. “We saw 24% growth in digital printing, greater access to national clients with higher transaction volumes, and solid same-store sales growth in fiscal year 2011. We have dramatically less debt than we did three years ago, and we maintain our commitment to bringing the most effective and highest value print solutions to our customers.”

Monday, April 4, 2011

GraphTec Receives the Prestigious Best In Show Award from PGAMA

Pictured from left to right: GraphTec team members Rob Dauses, Russ Hewitt, Rich Day

We’re pleased to announce that GraphTec, a Consolidated Graphics company located in Jessup, MD, has received the Best In Show Award in the 7th Annual PGAMA Excellence In Print Awards Competition. This is the second consecutive year GraphTec has been recognized with this honor!

The award was presented to Russ Hewitt, president of Graphtec, at PGAMA’s Excellence in Print Awards Gala on March 22, at Martin's West in Baltimore, MD. In addition, the GraphTec team was also awarded six Best of Category Awards for Packaging & Point of Purchase Material, Sales Campaigns, Catalogs, Books (Digital), Announcements & Invitations (Digital), and also won in the Impossible Job category.  The company received 10 additional Awards of Merit.

Everyone at Consolidated Graphics would like to extend our congratulations to the GraphTec team! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Finalists for the Encore™ Awards Announced

We want to congratulate all the finalists of the first annual Encore Awards. The awards are a new component of emerge™ and were created to recognize the innovative ideas of Consolidated Graphics’ customers. All of the finalists are very talented and deserving of the accolades they receive. We would also be remiss if we didn’t thank the independent panel of judges, who reviewed more than 500 innovative submissions to select our finalists. They did an outstanding job!

The finalists’ entries will be displayed throughout the emerge conference in Dallas, TX, May 17-20, with attendees casting votes for the People’s Encore Award. Encore Award winners and the People’s Encore Award will be announced on May 18 at the Encore Awards gala.

To see a list of all the winners and additional information, please read the press release.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

CDS Goes to Sundance

The Sundance Festival is the center of the film industry every year, and this year CDS Publications, one of Consolidated Graphics' digital printing hubs, was selected as the festival's official printer.

As the vendor of choice, CDS processed 465 files for a total of 689 high quality products, meeting strict deadlines and order specifications. All of the files were received, color-managed, printed, finished, kitted and shipped during a six-week window, with over 200 files being completed in under a week. Deliverables ranged from outdoor banners to fabric wall graphics.

"We did a walk-through and were thrilled with both the quality and color of everything, and I'm getting glowing reviews from the installers about how organized everything is," said one Sundance staff member. 

What great work by the CDS team! With the eyes of the film world on Sundance, CDS made sure they saw the very best. It’s no surprise that CDS will be supporting the 2012 Sundance Festival for their grand format print and service needs.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

CGX Publishing Solutions Collaborates with EYC for Enhanced Personalization

We’re please to announce CGX Publishing Solutions, a development group of Consolidated Graphics, has
agreed to collaborate with EYC to provide retail marketers with a total solution for one-to-one targeted marketing communications. Together, CGX Publishing Solutions and EYC are able to provide retail customers with the insight and tools to implement revenue-building, data-driven promotions that improve relevance and response rates. Through this collaboration, they will be able to produce 100-percent variable direct mail pieces that can speak to each individual shopper differently. For more information, please read the press release.

Maximum Graphics Named 2010 Commercial Print Vendor of the Year!

We’re excited to announce that Maximum Graphics, a Consolidated Graphics company based in Chaska, Minnesota, was recently named the 2010 Commercial Print Vendor of the Year, given by Staples.

The award was presented on February 15, at the Staples National Conference held in Orlando, Florida. John Scheffler, president of Maximum Graphics, accepted the award on behalf of the Maximum team. They were one of only five winners in five categories, taking home the win in the Commercial Printing category.

From everyone at Consolidated Graphics we’d like to extend our congratulations to the Maximum team!