Walters Leads a Revitalized Ennis
Under CEO Keith Walters, Ennis responds to the changing industry with technology and services
By Carol Katarsky
About two years agoalthough still an industry leaderit had become clear that Ennis Business Forms had seen better days.
As Joe Bouldin, business unit director and a 24-year employee, said, "It was a troubled period for us. We were financially sound, but sales were flat and profits were down."
"It wasn't a market-driven company," noted former president and 15-year board member Bob Mitchell. "We were about 20 years out of step with the industry." He added that when looking for new leadership, Keith Waltersa newcomer to the forms industryseemed the logical choice.
Walters had begun his career in the automotive industry. Holding positions ranging from materials management to human relations, he eventually worked his way up the corporate ladder to business unit manager. He was mulling over a career change when the leadership position at Ennis presented itself.
"I saw a great opportunity," said Walters. "Ennis was in a state of transition, but it had a broad client base and talented employees."
Listen to the Customers' Needs
Bringing with him the benefit of the cutting-edge management culture of the automotive industry, Walters set out to modernize the way things were done at DeSoto, Texas-based Ennis.
Bouldin noted that much of Walters' success stemmed from his ability to determineand meetthe needs of the industry. "Keith is a planner and a team-builder," added Ron Graham, Ennis' vice president of human resources. "He believes in collaboration and likes to build consensus with management and employees."
"Keith brought direct, active leadership and long-term planning to the company," noted Mitchell. "He listens to the marketplace."
Although still sizable, Walters noted that the industry is flat, especially in traditional products. "Distributors want new products and services and good pricing," he said.