How the Tough Get Going
1. Winner and Still Champion, Ennis
Although not wishing to divulge specific acquisition targets at this time, the Ennis corporate team, headquartered in Midlothian, Texas, is continuing its strategy of acquiring companies that offer complimentary products to its existing line as, well as companies that offer products that could be sold through the existing distributor customer base. The strategy is obviously working, as the company again claims the top spot in Print Professional’s top 100 manufacturers ranking.
And, while some in the industry fear the larger consolidators are creating pricing pressures that will ultimately commoditize products and services, Keith Walters, president and CEO, stated Ennis feels quite the opposite. “The downward pressure of the last three to five years has been driven by manufacturers and distributors struggling to compete and stay in business. A large number of manufacturers and distributors in our industry do not know their real costs of doing business. Failure to know your real costs in a shrinking market most often cause returns to not be as good as expected,” he explained. “When the returns have not been acceptable, it limits manufacturers’ abilities to move out of commodity products, which in turn causes further downward pressures.
For reporting purposes, Ennis is now divided into two distinct segments: printing and apparel. The print segment is seeing success in several new sales programs. For instance, growing its envelope business has been a particular priority for Ennis this year, as evidenced by recent key acquisitions of Block Graphics, Portland, Ore., and Trade Envelopes, Carol Stream, IL.. Furthermore, Walters noted the Enfusion line of integrated products has exceeded company expectations, and the Uncompromised line of security checks is one of the most highly requested products currently sold.
Walters went on to say the apparel segment has solved its recent inventory issue that limited sales of some hot selling items, and has developed several new products for 2008.
Related story: Top 100 Manufacturers Analysis