Quad/Graphics CEO Joel Quadracci speaks during the Waukesha
County Business Allianceﾕs annual meeting at the Country Springs
WAUKESHA - Quad/Graphics is
between stage two and stage three in its history and is moving
toward investing its free cash flow into expanding the printing
company, CEO and President Joel Quadracci said Friday.
Quadracci was interviewed by
Lynn Sprangers, vice president of community impact at Mount Mary
University, during the Waukesha County Business Alliance's annual
meeting at Country Springs Hotel and Conference Center.
Started by his father, Harry,
Quad/Graphics has weathered many storms with one of the most recent
being the Great Recession, which hit the publishing and print
industries especially hard.
Joel Qaudracci was born in
1969 and Quad/Graphics was started in 1971 so "we kind of grew up
together," he said.
Quad/Graphics' chapters of life
The first chapter of the
business was when it was experiencing significant growth, buying all
new equipment and building new facilities. Around 2008, the second
stage started when Quad/Graphics began to consolidate facilities,
and would move usable equipment from one facility to another and
melt what was unusable.
Sprangers discusses Quad/Graphics with the company's CEO Joel
Quadracci on Friday during the Waukesha County Business
Alliance's annual meeting at the Country Springs Hotel.
Quad/Graphics is moving into
its third stage, which will involve taking the company's free cash
flow and using it to expand. Quadracci said he is waiting for the
industry to stabilize more before looking to invest the company's
significant amount of free cash flow, which he estimated to be about
$180 million this year.
He recalled 2006 and 2007 as
"glorious years." Quad/Graphics was then the third largest printer
in the United States. Quadracci said the family discussed whether it
would prefer to maintain the status quo or attempt to grow bigger by
acquiring other businesses, which it proceeded to do. In order to
properly acquire additional companies, Quadracci said the company
consulted with other companies to create a strategy that would work
In the past few years,
Quad/Graphics has grown from a $1.8 billion company with 8,500
employees to an approximately $4.8 billion business in 2015 with
Quadracci is predicting that
Quad/Graphics will add about another 500 positions in Wisconsin in
the next several years, but they will be the result of consolidation
at other out-of-state facilities.
When asked what keeps him
awake at night, Quadracci said it's a tough industry and there is a
lot of consolidation to think about. He said the printing industry
is also in a price war between Quad/Graphics and RR Donnelly,
headquartered in Chicago.
With there being only about a
2 percent gross domestic product growth for publishing, Quadracci
said that amount tends to signify a need to cut back.
"Take away growth and there's
no room for error," he said.
Future of print
While the disruption the
economic recession caused was great, Quadracci said, "Print is not
dead. I know because I always read about it in print."
What really is not dead is
that human factor, he said, and the continuing desire of people to
pick up a print product for reading.
Quadracci also shared how
marketing has changed in recent years to being more targeted. He
said marketing is more data-driven currently, but the printing
industry has been data-driven for the past 20 years. When mass
marketing started, there wasn't the technology available to target
individual consumers - but that has all changed, he said. Now,
specifics pages of an advertisement can be sent to a certain home
and it can include a map to that resident's closest store, he said.
Going forward, Quadracci said
the company must focus more on media solutions and finding a grand
activator to navigate the different media channels.
Growing up a Quadracci
Quadracci said it was
fascinating to grow up in his family's home. When Quad/Graphics was
formed, the family took out a second mortgage on its home and was
the poor family on Pine Lake. While the children were attending
public high school in Shorewood, they became the nouveau riche, he
said. He said the Quadracci kids felt like they never quite fit in.
But that also brought some
interesting home experiences. Quadracci said his parents would have
clients over for dinner at the house because they couldn't afford to
take them out to a restaurant. Because his mother was a terrible
cook, Quadracci joked that his father would make the guests several
martinis before dinner.
He remembers sitting at the
dinner table listening to the president of Newsweek magazine
speaking about the industry, which he compared to getting prepared
for a Master of Business Administration degree at the age of 9.
Quadracci also remembered
Quad/Graphics going through many hard times and his father making
"He literally bet the
business multiple times. That's what an entrepreneur does," he said.