Setting Investors Straight at the AWA Mergers and Acquisitions Forum

Posted by Rock LaManna

AWA resized 600Okay, I’ve got to admit, there’s a bit of a chip on my shoulder.  It’s regarding something I heard from a financial advisor at Deloitte Financial Advisory Services regarding my upcoming presentation at the AWA Mergers & Acquisitions Executive Forum.

I told him I had been invited to attend the AWA and discuss mergers and acquisitions in the printing industry.  

“The printing industry?” he laughed.  “Rock, that’s an industry on the decline.”

Now, I like this guy.  He’s been a friend for many years, and I’ve been in the game long enough to know you can’t take something like this personally.  I also knew that my friend wasn’t speaking from a position of expertise.  

He was spouting off the conventional wisdom; the latest superficial insight he’d glimpsed from one of Deloitte’s legion of analysts.  The response to him was the same thing I’ll be telling many of the analysts at the AWA:  Reports of the printing industry’s death are greatly exaggerated.

Opportunities Abound

AWA Alexander Watson Associates also begs to differ with my banking friend.   They created the AWA Mergers & Acquisitions Executive Forum 2013, which will be held March 18, 2013 in Chicago.  

“Merger and acquisition activities continue to pick up the pace across many sectors,” writes Corey Reardon, President & CEO of AWA Alexander Watson Associates.  “The buying and selling of companies across the packaging, coating, and converting sector by other companies, for strategic reasons, or by private equity and investment groups, for financial reasons, is increasing.”

I was honored to be asked to not only present, but to also be a member of a panel discussion, “Private Equity Markets – Outlook and Expectations for the Sector.”  My message for the panel will be strikingly similar to what Corey Reardon remarked in the promotional material for the forum.

“Future growth and profitability are attractive, and opportunities exist for both strategic and financial buyers,” Reardon said.  He was referring to the resin and fiber-based packaging, coating and converting sector, but I also see ample opportunities throughout our industry.

Consider some of the examples.  Keep in mind that these are just from the Minnesota – Twin Cities region alone:

  • Quantum Graphics takes a quantum leap:  Quantum Graphics, Inc.  a lithographic and digital printing company in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, experienced a revenue growth spike from $5.8 million in 2011 to $10 million, with more increases expected.  The company diversified its customer base and added more service offerings.
  • Imagine! couldn’t imagine this:  Imagine! Print Solutions enjoyed a revenue increase from $157 million to $172 million, and is planning on expanding its physical space and its workforce.  The company made a number of strategic acquisitions to fuel the growth, including DigiGraphics, a specialist in high-end display materials for museums.
  • Microboards using 3D printers to boost macro sales: Microboards Technology, a mainstay in the DVD-duplication business, is setting its sights on selling 3D printers.  At a recent International Consumer Electronics Show, it was showing off its flagship printer. 
  • Immedia acquisition to produce immediate results:  Liberty Diversified International Inc. bought Immedia, Inc., a manufacturer of point-of-sales displays.  LDI made the move to expand their presence in the point-of-sale display market, “gaining access to state-of-the-art design and production facilities” as well as Immedia’s talent base.

Consider these deals, in tandem with Google’s acquisition of John Wiley & Sons (“essentially declaring defeat for printed travel guides” notes Mark Hahn in his Target report) and Quad Graphics acquisition of Vertis.

It means that the printing and print-related industries are very much in flux, but they’re far from dead.  In fact, the astute investor can enjoy substantial profits with the right insight and perspective on where this ship is heading.  

Consider that industry leaders Vomela, Quad Graphics and 3M continue to make acquisitions?  The big boys are finding synergistic mergers and acquisitions, and expanding their product service offerings as a result.

Share Your Story

It’s why I feel strongly about speaking to the private-equity investors who will be at AWA.  The surface-level reaction I received from my contact at Deloitte is shortsighted and doesn’t take into account the opportunities that lie with businesses that committed to change.

That’s the big difference here:  A commitment to change.

For the baby boomers who aren’t adapting to the new normal, my Deloitte guy is spot-on.

But for proactive print companies looking at niche-industries like 3D printing and hydrographics, there is huge potential.  

I anticipate most investors will be looking at larger, publicly-held companies as a safer bet.  That’s why smart, privately-held companies need to make their presence felt.  I’m hoping to shed some light on those companies, and tell their stories.

In addition to joining a panel discussion, I’ll also present and talk about how investors can find the synergistic opportunity.  Here’s the description from the AWA’s promotional material:

Finding the Synergistic Seller in the Printing Industry
(Rock LaManna, President & CEO, LaManna Alliance)
The $83 billion printing industry is loaded with opportunities. But for today’s investor, the key is navigating through the nuance of the various types of operations, and aligning yourself with a company poised to expand. Rock LaManna, CEO of the LaManna Alliance, will provide an oversight of the current printing marketplace, explaining where today’s investors can find unexpected areas for growth. He’ll also discuss the psyche of the typical printing owner, and explain the best methods for approaching an M&A prospect.

Do you have some success stories of smart and healthy companies who are making inroads in our industry?  Pass them my way.  I want to set the world straight on what a great industry this is, and how bright our future really is.

PS – Why not join me at the AWA Mergers & Executive Forum? I encourage you to attend and meet with some of these top private-equity investors.

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Topics: M&A