2011 Top 100: Brighter Days

QP's top performers offer evidence that the economic recovery has begun in earnest



To download a PDF of the 2011 Top 100 list click here.

After bravely weathering the horrible economy of 2009, things are looking up for QP’s Top 100. Last year’s group took a precipitous plunge of more than 15%; the worst performance in the history of this study. And for some, there were more dark days to ahead. A handful of companies that have been part of the list in the past have either gone out of business or have been absorbed by larger firms. In other cases, sales simply fell so low that the companies no longer meet the Top 100 criteria. Most of the owners I spoke with asked me to keep the details of their situation confidential, and I will honor their wishes. But take to heart the lesson this teaches: even the most successful companies face challenges, and past success is no guarantee that a company will always be around.

The good news is that Top 100 sales in 2010 were up 3.85% for a total of $532,166,791. Of course, every year some companies drop out and new ones come in, so in addition to comparing them to last year’s study, we also measure these businesses against their own performance in the previous year. So, the better news is that this group posted a sales increase of 7.27% over its own performance in 2009.

To avoid skewing the numbers, companies that have previously reported sales of at least $5 million, but fail to report updated numbers, are kept in the list with estimated sales. Unless there is evidence to do otherwise, their sales are left at the last reported amount. If a company fails to report for three consecutive years, it is removed from the list. Brandon’s Printing was removed from this year’s list for that reason. Western Graphics and House of Printing are estimated for the second time this year. If they do not report next year, they will also be deleted. The other companies that are estimated this year are ColorNet/Rockville Printing, Print Tech, Elm Press, and MLI Integrated Graphic Solutions.

There are 15 new companies in this year’s list. The highest debut spot goes to Las Vegas-based A&B Printing & Mailing, which comes in at #29 with sales of $5.78 million. This also marks the first year since 1996 that the #100 spot is occupied by a company with sales less than $2 million.


Top of the World

The positions of the Top 10 companies are quite stable. Numbers one through four are the same as last year: CCI/Coakley Tech, Balmar/HBP Inc., ColorNet/Rockville Printing, and ASAP Printing Corp. The biggest move was made by Frank Gumpert Printing of Annapolis, which jumped from #11 to #5. That caused the next three on the list, #6 through #8 to shuffle into this order: Econoprint, Landmark Print, Western Graphics. Hatteras and Copy Central remain at #9 and #10, respectively.

Sales for the Top 10 companies totaled $161,302,927, which is 30.31% of total sales for the group, up by 12.67% . Much of that comes from the 59.86% growth posted by Balmar, which reflects the fact that it was acquired by HBP Inc. Three others also reported double digit growth: Frank Gumpert Printing grew by 26.2%, Landmark Print’s sales rose by 16.79%, CCI/Coakley Tech increased sales by 12%. ASAP Printing reported sales up by 8.73%, Hatteras grew by 3.4%, and Copy Central by 1.1%. ColorNet/Rockville and Western Graphics did not report, so they were estimated with stagnant sales.

These 10 companies also account for 50 locations, which is 26.6% of the total number. Copy Central has 19 locations, CCI/Coakley Tech has eight, and Hatteras has five. ColorNet/Rockville, ASAP Printing, and Econoprint each have four shops. Balmar/HBP and Frank Gumpert Printing have two locations each, and Landmark Print and Western Graphics are both single location operations.

This illustrious group provides work for 1,036.5 employees; 27.63% percent of the group’s total. CCI/Coakley Tech reported 398 full time and 12 part time employees. However, since this is the total number of employees at the large commercial firm and the Top 100 only registers information from its quick printing division, I adjusted this down to half and included 199 full time and six part time employees, for a total of 202. Balmar/HBP reported 200 employees, ColorNet/Rockville had 110 at last report, and ASAP Printing has 100. The rest of the group follows with 75 employees at Econoprint, 74 at Copy Central, 72 at Western Graphics, 70 at Hatteras, 68.5 at Landmark Print, and 65 at Frank Gumpert Printing.


Gaining Strength

Quite a few companies in the Top 100 reported acquisitions, leading to significant sales growth. Jay Hartway, president of Unique Litho noted that an acquisition late in the year had added four new employees, but not much in total sales, therefore skewing his sales per employee (SPE) lower than it would have been otherwise. Hasia Zubn of Rapid Blueprint pointed out that the Tampa-based company is in the process of integrating two distinct businesses under one roof. All of that activity combined with the slowly improving economy yielded overall annual sales growth of 7.27% for this group.

Leading the pack by reporting 59.86% growth on the year is Balmar/HBP, followed by Robert Johnson’s AlphaGraphics franchise which posted 40% growth. Five companies had sales in the 30% range: Rapid Blueprint Co. (35%), John Flynn’s Allegra (34%), Karen Brinker’s AlphaGraphics (33%), B Squared (31.11%), and Rudy Baron and Dave Jackson’s AlphaGraphics (31.05%). There were seven companies with sales growth in the 20% range, 19 reporting growth of 10-19%, and 24 with single-digit growth. Five companies reported sales up by less than 1%. The six companies that estimated due to failure to report show 0% growth, as do two more that did report, but had flat sales.

Thirty companies saw sales decline in 2010. Two of them dipped by less than a percent, 18 fell by less than 10%, and 10 companies suffered double-digit losses. Hardest hit was Minuteman Press of Jersey City, NJ, which declined by -19.13%.


Locations & Employees

This year’s Top 100 has two more surprises in store. For quite a few years the number of locations and employees has steadily declined. In 2010, the number of locations remained the same at 188. This is seems a bit serendipitous considering that 15 of the players changed. Also, the number of employees increased to 3,752 – 50 more than in 2009. That’s up by 1.35% and represents 3,545 full time and 207 part time workers.

Sixty-six companies in the list run only one location, 15 of them operate two shops, eight of them have three locations, four of them have four shops, five have five shops, one has eight, and one has 19 locations. The average number of employees is slightly fewer than 20 (19.96), ranging from a high of 202 to a low of 12.

Sales per shop (SPS) was up by 3.85% on the year, with an average SPS of $2,830,674. Balmar/HBP has the highest SPS at $16 million. Other leaders in this category are Landmark Print ($10,855,000), Mele Printing ($9.2 million), and Marange Printing ($7.2 million). Seven companies had SPS in the $6 million range, nine were in the $5 million range, six were in the $4 million range, 25 were in the range of $3 million, 27 were in the $2 million range, and 15 were in the $1 million range. Only six companies reported SPS of less than $1 million.

Sales per employee (SPE) is perhaps the best indicator of a company’s overall fiscal health. So it is gratifying to report that the average SPE for 2010 improved by 2.46% to $141, 835. That is particularly significant in light of the fact that the total number of employees also increased.

Printing companies that can show SPE in excess of $200,000 are rare, but this year’s Top 100 is host to 12 of them. Out in front are One-Source Communications with SPE of $241,071, George Coriaty’s Sir Speedy in Whittier, CA, with $232,559, American Graphics Printing Co. with $232,395, Braintree Printing reporting $229,550, and Goodcopy Printing & Digital Graphics at $225,611. There are 30 companies with SPE of at least $150,000, 38 with SPE of at least $120,000, and 18 with SPE in the $100,000 range. Only two firms had SPE of less than $100,000.


Better Days Ahead

There is no question that 2010 was a great improvement over 2009. Despite a few rough edges, the overall business conditions are much better than those we faced this time last year. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the turnaround is continuing and that the printers who survived are at last able to turn their attention back to growth prospects. So let’s all breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy a moment of celebration before rolling up our sleeves and getting back to work.


Top 100 Honorable Mention

These companies also had total 2010 sales of at least $1 million, but did not make the main Top 100 list. Most reported sales lower than the companies that made the list. A few would have made the list, but their forms were received after the deadline for entry had passed. They are all deserving of recognition for their achievements.


Company                            Owner(s)                                   Location

A to Z Printing                        Sue Quambusch                              Lincoln, NE

Allegra Print & Imaging              Ellis Galimidi                                   Lawrenceville, NJ

Allegra Print & Imaging              oward A. Cutler                              Danbury, CT

Allegra Print & Imaging              Mark & Todd Hinson                         Rocky Mount, NC

Allegra Print & Imaging              Dave Jones                                    Pittsburgh, PA

Allegra Print & Imaging              Tim Wiens                                      Edina, MN

AlphaGraphics                          Butch & Debbie Clark                       Dallas, TX

AlphaGraphics                          David Skinner & Kevin Cushing           Minneapolis, MN

AlphaGraphics                          Sherry Perry                                   Dallas, TX

AlphaGraphics                          John Eiffert                                    Chicago, IL

AlphaGraphics                          Joe Vasta                                      New Bedford, MA

Ameripress                              John Pensinger                                Marietta, GA

Copy Central                            Muji Rizvi                                       Berkeley, CA

Copy Solutions                         John Woodbury                               Franklin, TN

Duplicates Ink                          John Cassidy                                  Conway, SC

Legacy Print Group                    Jim Turnell                                     Dallas, TX

PIP Printing & Marketing             Donald A. Stocks                            Greenville, NC

Printers 3                                Anthony Viscuso                             Huntington Station, NY

Ross Printing                           Jeremy Ross                                    N. Charleston, SC

Sir Speedy Printing                   Jack, Evan & Brandon Bloom               Westbury, NY

Sir Speedy Printing & Marketing  J. Wages & H. Boesch-Wages             Waterbury, CT