Friday, July 2, 2010

The New Quad/Graphics Still Has The Blues -- and Soul, Too

For those who wondered whether going Wall Street would change Quad/Graphics' unique culture, company chairman Joel Quadracci made an historic statement today in announcing the acquisition of Worldcolor.

It wasn't what he said that was so significant, it was what he wore. Has the head of a publicly traded multibillion-dollar company ever before worn a company uniform with his name stitched on it while making such a major announcement?

Quadracci's donning of "Quad blues" rather than corporate pinstripes for the video announcement demonstrated his intent to continue the rah-rah, employee-friendly culture that has led to Quad being featured in management texts. Having everyone from top executives to front-line workers wear nearly identical uniforms in Quad's plants is a long-standing tradition at the company, which Quadracci's father founded. (Commentator Brian Sheehan notes that postal executives battling an "us vs. them mentality" could learn from Quad's example.)

Let's see if Quadracci and his family members wear Quad blues when they ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange this coming Wednesday. (Update: Nope. See No Quad Blues, But Quadracci Upholds Another Tradition.)

Quadracci's spoken message was consistent with his visual one.

"As we undergo this transition, we're not going to change who we are," the chairman, president, and CEO said. The company will continue to be known for its commitment to its customers, employees, and the environment, he said.

"We're a company with a soul," he added, which is an interesting statement given widespread speculation that the merged company will soon close plants and reduce its 28,000-employee workforce.

Though Quad has dabbled in creating digital editions and apps, manufacturing equipment, and delivering parcels, Quadracci emphasized that the company's major focus would not change, using the new tagline "innovative people redefining print".

"We believe in the power of print," he said. Print after all is a powerful foundation for every communication strategy." (Tell that to Google.)

"The company will realize significant mailing and distribution efficiencies and offer clients improved speed-to-market and product integrity for USPS-delivered products as well as volume-driven postage savings through programs such as co-mailing," Quadracci said in a news release.

Quad stock will start trading on the NYSE Tuesday, unfortunate timing. That's the day postal officials are slated to announce proposed "exigent" rate increases for most mail, with the biggest blows aimed at the magazine and catalog customers who have been central to Quad's and Worldcolor's business.

Other articles about the Quad-Worldcolor merger include:


Anonymous said...

Not much soul - they laid me off today after stringing us along through the bankruptcy and brighter days coming when the New Quad would take over. I would not trust Angelson as far as I could throw him. When you are wealthy I guess its easy to lie to the little people.

Anonymous said...

I left QG in July after 8 years just before the WC "merger". The first year was strange...Harry died. The next three were fun. The last four were not. Don't believe the BS. Quad is still a ruthlessly efficient manufacturing machine. Nothing more, nothing less. Now Joel is a 'Captain of Industry. Good for him. But he's not his father and will never be...and he would tell you that he's not trying to be. But...a "soul"? Not a chance!