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Industry Insight

Quad/Graphics to Reduce Production Capacity Across Manufacturing Platform

There is a press release today from QuadGraphics where they intend to reduce production capacity across their manufacturing platform.

By Bob Sacks
Published: January 12, 2009

There is a press release today from QuadGraphics

where they intend to reduce production capacity across their manufacturing platform. The company intends to shut down the equivalent of one plant's worth of capacity immediately. This move will result in the elimination of approximately 550 jobs in 5 states, or approximately 5.6% of its domestic workforce.

This very painful move does seem to be prudent and necessary as we all travel though the uncharted waters of this economic downturn.

Understandably, the press release brought back memories to me of Harry Quadracci, the founder of QuadGraphics. It is not really all that strange, as I have so many fond memories of Harry stretching back to the early 1970’s. I was one of Harry’s earliest clients. Harry was the first person I negotiated a printing contract with. Harry also stood by me on my first color OK. To this day I still mark up sheets the “Harry way.” (Yes, there is a “Harry way”.) Over the past 35 years I have been on what seems like thousands of color OK’s and I will bet that each and every time I have thought fondly of Harry and my first experience with him in Pewaukee.

I was young and in my twenty- somethings, and Harry didn’t transact business like anyone else I had ever known. That stands true to this day. He was a visionary unlike any other in this industry. He was never afraid of new ideas, new technology and great challenges, in fact he thrived on them, maybe even sought them out. To those who have known him, you will remember he always had this wonderful twinkle in his eye. It could mean many things, but it was always there. I liked that twinkle and I miss it.

He was a great mover and shaker in our industry, doing business and creating successes against all odds. The empire he created and now known as QuadGraphics started in a dumpy little old building with a dumpy little old press in the little town of Pewaukee, Wisconsin. From this humble old warehouse and a second mortgage on his home, Harry built the largest privately held printing company in North America. Not bad, not bad at all.

For what it is worth and from my perspective, Joel Quadracci, now the President and Chief Executive Officer is making a bold and painful Harry-like move in these terrible economic times.

The country and our industry must make many bold moves in the next few months to create a sustainable printing/publishing environment.

These decisions must be horrible to deal with. In my life as an executive I must have laid- off, fired, and downsized dozens and dozens of employees. It is a job function that I have always detested. But it also always had to be done. I can’t imagine the stress and decision making of layoffs we read about in the papers – 5,000 here, 10,000 there. Thousands and thousands until it now stands at millions of unemployed mothers and fathers.

The only comfort I find is that this country and this industry has been through this before and sadly we will probably go through this again. It is part of the system that between the bad times has brought joy and prosperity.



By Judy Olson on Jan 13, 2009

I worked for Quad/Graphics for 11 years and have many fond memories of Harry. Thanks for bringing him to mind this morning, Joel is an able administrator, but Harry was special in a way words just can't describe.


By Harvey Halperin on Jan 14, 2009

how about more on the "harry way" to ok a job on press


By Lori on Jan 14, 2009

Yes, I would also like to hear more on the "harry way"
to approve color on a press sheet.


By Heather Kluck on Jan 15, 2009

Thank you very much for sharing your fond memories of Larry Quadracci. I interviewed out of college for the Administrative Trainee Program and ended up working at Quad through the 90s. I must admit that my perspective on management and business is tilted the Quad way - I miss Larry and Quad/Graphics. I learned much from him. This time is a challenging one for us all and Joel will manage gracefully!


By annie B on Jan 17, 2009

The layoffs were inevitable. but in no way would Larry ever have let it happen in the manner that it did. He would of let people leave with diginity not escorted out the door like criminals. Several of whom would have retired with pride in a few weeks. I am disgusted that his legacy is compared with this second generation. He was a great man


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