Mailing and fulfillment service companies are aggressively moving upstream into printing, graphic design and data management services. Streamworks, in Arden Hills, Minnesota, jumped up the value ladder and acquired Imagewërks Marketing, a design and production boutique, also located in Arden Hills. The acquired company had itself evolved over three decades from a printing company into a “comprehensive marketing company.” The buyer, Streamworks, also has been a work-in-progress, having been formed just last year when Action, a direct mail and fulfillment company, joined with Expedite Direct Mail & Fulfillment, a provider of printing and direct mail services. The newly combined entities will still provide printing services, and promote ink-on-paper as an effective communication channel; print services are subsumed under the broad message that the company provides “integrated marketing communications.”

Com-Pak Services, a Moorestown, New Jersey provider of mailing services, has teamed up with EU Services in Rockville, Maryland under the ownership of private equity fund Maidstone Capital. The two operating companies, now under combined management, will provide single-source direct marketing services. With this addition to the Maidstone portfolio, Com-Pak, formerly at the tail-end of the direct mail process, moves upstream into the printing segment with sheetfed and web press capability, digital printing and data processing. EU Services had also moved up-market over time, morphing from an envelope printing company into a data-driven digital printing company.

The YGS Group, a York, Pennsylvania company offering marketing, publishing and printing services, expanded to the west coast with its acquisition of Print Management, located in the Seattle metro area.* The YGS Group has developed a suite of diversified and integrated services that includes design, copywriting, social media implementation, event management and print advertising sales. The company has announced plans to roll out these services to its new location, in addition to the acquired printing and fulfillment capabilities.

Performance Printing in Dallas, Texas enhanced its Performance POP division with the acquisition of Miramar Designs, a Fort Worth company that specializes in the design of in-store displays. Offering a variety of specialized printing techniques, including lenticular printing, personalized plastic card printing as well as point-of-purchase displays, the company now offers creative design services.

Rock-Tenn, a $9.8 billion company which produces containerboard and paperboard in its own mills, is also a major printing company in the packaging and display segments. RockTenn acquired the AGI In-Store company from American Greetings, producer of greeting cards. Located in Forest City, North Carolina, the acquisition brings additional design capabilities to RockTenn, along with manufacturing capabilities that include metal, wood and plastic fabrication. The operation has been bolted onto the company’s impressive vertically integrated merchandizing display operations. This is RockTenn’s second acquisition this year in the merchandizing display segment, following their acquisition in January of NPG in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The churn and turbulence in the newspaper business that we reported on last month continued in August. The Tribune Company completed its spinoff of its newspaper publishing business. Gannett made its own split official in August, and announced that it will be joining virtually all the major multi-media companies as they jettison their print-centric business units. In the minor leagues, however, the opposite is true as acquisitions of regional and community newspapers continued unabated. Metro US, a daily paper in Philadelphia, acquired City Paper, a weekly paper that serves the same market. Adams Publishing Group, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, continued its roll-up of community newspapers with the acquisition of Chronotype Publishing in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. (See The Target Report for July and March for Adam’s prior transactions this year). In stark contrast to the major metro newspapers, Adams is adding printed products to its holdings of radio stations, magazines, outdoor advertising and commercial printing.

As a sign of the improving economy and reported stabilization of the printing industry, for the first time in the three years that I have been publishing The Target Report, my research did not turn up any bankruptcies filed during the prior month in the printing, packaging, paper or related industries.

* Mark Hahn, the author of the Target Report and Senior Vice President of the NAPL Business Advisory Group, served as advisor to the seller in this transaction.

View the complete M&A report for August