Sunday, January 6, 2013

Are Commercial Printers Successfully Navigating the Transition to MSP’s? – December 2012 M&A Activity

One of the classic roll-up companies in the commercial print business, Nationwide Argosy Solutions, has added a shop to its holdings, combining its company in Austin, Texas, Cerqa, with another Austin firm, The Whitley Group. Nationwide Graphics, in its prior incarnation, along with Consolidated Graphics and Mail-Well (now Cenveo) was one of the high profile roll-up efforts that pushed up valuation multiples for privately owned commercial printing companies in the mid to late nineties. While not achieving the scale or success of its brethren consolidators from the nineties, Nationwide has stuck to its model, and is back on the deal log in December, apparently ready to grow again after its own downsizing and restructuring during the past several years.

Both of the merged companies, Cerqa and Whitley, according to their websites, are now positioned as multi-channel marketing service companies, even though their roots are clearly in the commercial printing business. Cerqa’s number one offering is its logistics and “Supply Chain Management,” followed by “Marketing and Branding,” with print almost appearing to be an afterthought in its service offerings. Its new partner, The Whitley Group, aka TWG+, touts its multi-channel and interactive services, as well as its print capabilities. Of special note, TWG+ is related to The Whelan Group, aka TWGplus, a specialty marketing firm that assists colleges to identify and attract new student enrollments. These companies all have print in their DNA; they use print as the primary means of connecting their clients to their customers. However, their positioning is not about print; rather these companies appear to have achieved the much talked about transition to becoming marketing service companies.

Walsworth Publishing, a printing company that produces and prints yearbooks, acquired Ovid Bell Press, a specialty printer of publications. Notably, everything about the acquired company says, “we print publications.” There is no mixed message here; the acquired company has a clear and focused product-based strategy.

The label business continues to attract financial investors. Svoboda Capital Partners, a Chicago private equity firm with investments in several industries, all unrelated to print, found a desirable investment candidate in M.E.I. Labels, an Oklahoma flexo and screen printing company that specializes in printing labels for the food industry.

Several copy shops filed bankruptcy in December and a Texas folding box company folded itself. Distress continued to hit the advertising circular business as Mulligan Printing Corp. in Pennsylvania filed for Chapter 11 protection. In a trend brought to our recent attention, distressed commercial printing companies often delay the inevitable by filing for Chapter 11 reorganization, only to liquidate several months later. We know of two companies that have recently filed for Chapter 7 liquidation, handing the keys over to a trustee for final closure, only a few months after their ill-fated, but presumably well-intentioned, attempts at reorganizing under Chapter 11. One of these firms, National Litho (dba National Communications) in Florida, appears in our December bankruptcy log with the conversion of its Chapter 11 to a Chapter 7. National Litho also appears in our December deal log with the sale of its related party, SCP Graphics in Boca Raton, Florida to Southeastern Printing. In another “Chapter 18”, D&R Printing, aka Prestige Graphics, was reported to have filed Chapter 11 in The Target Report in November 2011, and converted to Chapter 7 liquidation in August 2012.  

2012 December - Mergers and Acquisitions in the Printing, Packaging, Paper & Related Industries

Deal Party #1
(Surviving Entity)
($Mil )

Party #1 Address

Deal Party #2
($Mil )

Party #2 Address

Deal Structure


Svoboda Capital Partners No Data Chicago, IL M.E.I. Labels No Data Catoosa, OK 12/21/12 No Data Acquisition PS labels, inserts, tags Link
Southeastern Printing
(SEP Communications)
No Data Stuart, FL SCP Graphics
(Related party to  National Litho)
No Data Boca Raton, FL 12/19/12 No Data Asset purchase Sheetfed commercial print Link
Trinity Packaging No Data Armonk, NY Cello-Pack Corp. No Data Buffalo, NY 12/19/12 No Data Acquisition Flexo printing, bag mfg. Link
The Whitley Group No Data Houston, TX Cerqa
(Sub. Nationwide Argosy)
No Data Austin, TX 12/18/12 No Data Merger Logistics & Commercial print Link
Mark Andy No Data Chesterfield, MO Print Products No Data Fenton, MO 12/17/12 No Data Acquisition Flexo supplies Link
River Associates No Data Chattanooga, TN Rose City Printing & Packaging No Data Vancouver, WA 12/13/12 No Data
(D.A. Davidson & Co)
Folding carton manufacturer Link
Walsworth Publishing No Data Marceline, MO Ovid Bell Press No Data Fulton, MO 12/6/12 No Data Acquisition Short run publication printing Link

2012 December - Bankruptcy Filings in the Printing, Packaging, Paper & Related Industries

Filing Party

($Mil )

Case #

Filing Party Address


Region & City


Attorney for Debtor

Chapter 11 Filings:
The Warwick Group
(DBA The PrintSource Group)
12/31/12 No Data 12-13978 East Providence, RI 1st Rhode Island
Diane Finkle  Vincent A. Indeglia  Printing & copying
Mulligan Printing Corporation 12/12/12 No Data 12-07097 Tunkhannock, PA  3rd Middle PA
Robert N Opel II  John H. Doran   Advertising circulars
All-Brite Graphics, LLC 12/3/12 No Data 12-46815 Anoka, MN 8th Minnesota
Kathleen H Sanberg Joseph W. Dicker Commercial printing
Chapter 7 Filings:
Texas Packaging Co., Inc. 12/31/12 No Data 12-47009 Mineral Wells, TX 5th Northern TX
Fort Worth
D. Michael Lynn Grant Scott Goens Set-up boxes & folding cartons
J-K Strauss, Inc.
(DBA Pip Printing)
12/6/12 No Data 12-14227 Indianapolis, IN 7th Southern IN Frank J. Otte Jonathan M. Brown Printing & copying
National Litho, LLC
(Converted from Ch. 11)
12/6/12 No Data 12-27566 Miami Lakes, FL 11th Southern FL
Laurel M. Isicoff Luis Salazar Commercial printing, web & sheetfed

2012 December - Non-Bankruptcy Closures in the Printing, Packaging, Paper & Related Industries

Closed Company / Facility

Date of Closure
($Mil )

Closing Address
Related Party

Related Party
Date Closure Public


SolCal Commercial Printing 12/28/12 No Data Riverside, CA Owned by Press-Enterprise Co. Riverside, CA 12/3/12 Customers tucked into San Dieguito Printing
San Marcos, CA
AFL Web - Voorhees Plant 12/2/12 No Data Voorhees, NJ Owned by Westbury Partners Hauppauge, NY 12/6/12 Newsprint and publication printer Link