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RPI Acquires DPI (Commentary by Cary Sherburne)

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Press release from the issuing company

(Be sure to see special commentary by WhatTheyThink's Cary Sherburne below the release)

Expands North American capabilities to address rapidly growing global market opportunity for personalized print products 

SEATTLE – RPI, a leader in make-on-demand, private-label personalized photo books, greeting cards and stationery products for mass and specialty retailers, today announced that it has acquired DPI, an Atlanta-based company that provides web-to-print, on-demand products and services for business-to-business customers such as Nestle, Johnson Controls and CB Richard Ellis.

The acquisition is a win-win for both companies, according to executives from both companies.

“Many of our customers have asked us to develop a strong presence on the East Coast, and this acquisition of DPI addresses that need,” said Rick Bellamy, chief executive officer of RPI. “It will help us significantly reduce the time to deliver personalized products to consumers and businesses, and minimize unexpected delays in order delivery created by elements out of our control, such as weather.”

“Our customers can now take advantage of increased scale, faster delivery times to the West Coast, and expanded IT development capabilities offered by RPI,” said Bob Moore, chief executive officer of DPI. “They also will benefit from a broad assortment of products and services that will enable new ways to bring the brand to the consumer.”

This is RPI’s second significant acquisition in the past two years. In 2011, RPI acquired Paro, a company based in the Netherlands that provides print products for the corporate and consumer markets in Europe. 

By acquiring DPI, RPI is addressing a growing market need for a company that can deliver powerful, near-time, web-to-print solutions for global brands addressing both the consumer and business markets, Bellamy said. 

“With the proliferation of today’s technology, we have entered a new age of personalization,” Bellamy said. “Consumers are using social and mobile platforms to control conversations about the brand story. Savvy companies are looking for authentic and meaningful ways to participate in these conversations, and to ultimately engage consumers to co-create experiences where tangible physical products are essential to the experience.”

RPI specializes in make-on-demand photo merchandise for mass and specialty retailers, an estimated $2 billion market worldwide. However, stationery ($11B), yearbooks ($4B), home décor ($26B) and pets ($50B) represent much larger market opportunities for personalized print products, Bellamy said. 

“With the acquisition of DPI, we believe we are uniquely positioned to help companies address and capture this multi-billion dollar market opportunity,” he said. 

DPI will become a RPI company and its management team and 27 employees will be blended into the RPI management structure and workforce. Other terms of the deal, including acquisition price, were not disclosed.

About RPI

RPI is a leading make-on-demand producer of private label personalized photo books, greeting cards and stationery products for mass and specialty retailers. The Seattle-based company, founded in 1979, has additional production facilities in Atlanta and in Eindhoven, NL.  RPI’s blue-chip retail and online publishing customers rely on its consistent, reliable execution, creative design services and state-of-the-art manufacturing for the rapid delivery of innovative products utilizing consumer-generated content. RPI has one of the largest digital printing facilities on the West Coast for both HP Indigo and Xerox Igen technology and has been listed on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies for the past four years. For information, please visit www.rpiprint.com.

About DPI

DPI was formed in 1992 to address the emerging digital printing and print on demand market. Since then, DPI has evolved into a full service color digital printer supporting all aspects surrounding the digital printing and marketing process. As one of the first Indigo digital printing sites in the United States, DPI has been recognized as a true innovator in digital color printing technology. DPI specializes in versioned or personalized printing for national chain-based and dealer-comprised companies by focusing on web-to-print solutions for global brands addressing the B2B market.


Commentary by Cary Sherburne

It was quite exciting to learn that Seattle-based RPI has acquired Atlanta-based DPI.  Anyone who knows or has followed Bob and Susan Moore and the work they have done at DPI knows that RPI has made a significant and valuable acquisition investment.

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Susan several times, and this link is a great example. 

I spoke with both Susan and RPI CEO Rick Bellamy to gain some insight into this acquisition and the benefit each of the companies expects to gain.  RPI already has a European footprint due to a 2011 acquisition of a Dutch company, which Bellamy indicates is now fully integrated with RPI.  The acquisition of DPI gives him an East Coast location, and puts the company within 2-day ground service of 7/8 of the U.S. population.  He also reports that there is little overlap between the two businesses, allowing both companies to broaden the markets they are selling to.

RPI has primarily focused on B2C and photo merchandising, while DPI is B2B with a primary focus on marketing collateral and point-of-sale materials.  Both have significant HP Indigo installations, with RPI having more than 20. RPI is one of the top ten HP Indigo sites in the U.S., as well as a top West Coast manufacturer using Xerox printing equipment.

Bellamy adds, “Bob and Susan will continue to play key roles, with Bob acting as General Manager for the Atlanta facility, and Susan in charge of  corporate collateralsales.”  Both will also continue their involvement with Dscoop, the independent HP user organization.

Over the next few months, according to Bellamy, work will be underway to seamlessly integrate the two companies. He says, “We are really excited about this. With the proliferation of technology that has occurred, we have entered an age where personalization is key in both photo merchandising and the corporate communications space.  Both consumers and companies are looking for better ways to connect.  The combined companies will be able to meet that need even better than we could as separate entities.”

The acquisition will also give DPI access to more resources. Susan Moore stated, “We have lots of ideas for expanding the business but realized about a year ago that we didn’t really have access to the kind of capital we needed as a family-owned business to implement those ideas. We met RPI when we were discussing manufacturing a support product for them, and the next thing you know, we both realized there was great alignment in corporate culture and philosophy. As privately-held companies, we were able to move pretty quickly from there.”  Moore goes on to say, “For us, it is not the destination; it’s the journey, and Bob and I are only about halfway through that journey. We care very much about our customers and employees, and any acquisition like this would have to be with a company that feels the same way, as well as shares our vision of where the industry is going.  All of our employees will remain, and our customers will benefit from the added resources we now have access to.”  As an example, Bellamy indicated that RPI has 8X the number of IT-oriented employees as DPI, an important resource for both companies.

Moore echoes Bellamy’s thoughts when asked about her vision for the industry, saying, “More companies are looking for strategic ways to infuse their brands into the home—more than just a walk-in experience in a store.  Corporate collateral is changing.  It is not just printed marketing pieces, but it is also the way that marketers reach out to the consumer to build and maintain brand awareness through a variety of communications media. We have been working with our corporate customers on direct-to-consumer programs and have nailed that strategy.  We just need to scale, and as part of RPI that will be much easier to do.”


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