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Eric Ligget Lets Us Get to Know KCI

Published on November 29, 2011

Cary Sherburne and KCI's General Manager Eric Liggett sit down for an in-depth discussion about KCI

Cary Sherburne: Hi. I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I'm here with Eric Liggett who is General Manager of KCI. How are you?

Eric Liggett: I’m well, thank you. Thanks for having me.

Cary Sherburne: Oh, my pleasure. You know—well first of all, tell us a little bit about KCI, what you do.

Eric Liggett: Sure, yeah. KCI is a print and mail company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We also specialize in E-marketing which wasn’t the case 10 to 12 years ago.

Cary Sherburne: And so about how many employees do you have?

Eric Liggett: We’re at about 58 employees with some part-time folks that are route drivers, but yeah.

Cary Sherburne: Pretty good size company.

Eric Liggett: Yeah, 50 full-timers.

Cary Sherburne: Yeah. And so you started out in the mailing industry. You know, it’s kind of gotten a little blurry because, you know, printers are doing mailing and mailers are doing printing. And so what are some of the things that you’ve done to kind of adjust your business model to today’s market realities?

Eric Liggett: Yeah. Well, it’s a difficult market and we started to see a transition 11, 12 years ago into where our printers, local printers, were going and they were starting to provide more direct mail to their clients. So seeing—as we say—seeing the writing on the wall, we decided that we needed to make a transition in the direction of the company. So we moved into the direct mail printing space, and that was about ten years ago, so yeah.

Cary Sherburne: And so what kind of equipment do you have? What are you printing on?

Eric Liggett: Yeah, so a number of things. Being a direct mail printer we have a 2 over 2 Perfector Safari which is a half-size; as well as a Komori 5-color with coater.

Cary Sherburne: 40 inch?

Eric Liggett: 28 inch.

Cary Sherburne: Oh, 28 inch.

Eric Liggett: Yeah, 28 inch for the shorter runs; high-speed envelope press, full digital capabilities with the Xerox, the [Viravoxes] and iGen.

Cary Sherburne: Mhmm. And what are some of the challenges that you face as you’ve made this transition?

Eric Liggett: Yeah. Well one, as a mailer transitioning into a printer, there was a fairly large learning curve.

Cary Sherburne: Sure.

Eric Liggett: We began as—we purchased a company that was a quick printer and a lot of walk-up business. Then we transitioned to a commercial direct mail printer, and so with that came the need to bring in the expertise in those different areas. So we completely changed our outlook in terms of how we were going to staff and knew that we needed to bring the best people in, so that was a challenge that we had to go through. And we also had the mergers going on when we acquired a couple of companies bringing cultures in, and bringing, you know, the new estimating system in for print which is much different than mail.

Cary Sherburne: Yeah. And then in terms of sales, did you—I mean were there challenges associated with kind of educating salespeople on new ways to sell?

Eric Liggett: Well, you know, I think the printing industry traditionally has brought salespeople out to the market, whereas mail companies have not, at least in the market that we were in. So we had to kind of change from an order-taking company to being more of a sales-driven company, and that evolution continues to this day. But yeah, I think to answer your question, it is, as we move into the E?marketing space now, education of the sales folks and really having their buy?in, and finding the right salespeople.

Cary Sherburne: Great. Eric, thanks, and we wish you the best as you go forward.

Eric Liggett: Thank you.

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