Oh, the Humanity of Acquisitions
Mergers and acquisitions are significantly reshaping the competitive landscape, and they will continue to do so. With manufacturing facilities, the big story surrounding a new negotiation typically concerns increased capabilities, enhanced efficiencies and greater profitability. But, it takes a village to produce printed business products, and the human resources arena is where a lot of the action takes place.
Keith Walters, president and CEO of Ennis, Midlothian, Texas, explained that company owners usually will have approached Ennis about being acquired. “We have been approached by some companies where, for one or more of many possible reasons, we choose not to engage in discussions. The potential acquisition must meet certain financial standards for us to consider the opportunity.” The employees of the acquired company are, understandably, very nervous. “The first thing they ask is whether or not they will be able to keep their jobs,” said Steven Osterloh, director of marketing. “The desired scenario is for the employees to remain, but each acquisition is unique,” he said. Added Walters, “Most of the acquisitions over the last eight years have been individual facilities and haven’t had large support staffs.”
Ennis typically looks for companies where the existing management team wants to stay and manage the business. Previous owners often become general managers of the acquired company, as in the case of Bob McAleavey at Specialized Printed Forms, Caledonia, N.Y. In other situations—such as with Richard Miller at Calibrated Forms, Columbus, Kan.—a long-tenured manager may ascend into the general manager position. “It is not our intention to eliminate positions, but the facility needs to be profitable. If it’s a struggling facility, there may be changes, but they don’t always involve headcount reductions,” said Osterloh. “There may be changes in the cost structure or in the way things are done to gain efficiencies. Planned changes could be as minor as changing from a weekly to a bi-weekly payroll. Even then, the strategic plan includes options for assistance to employees during the change over.”