The National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) Research Center’s newly released study, “Mergers & Acquisitions: A Growth Strategy for an Industry in Transition,” reports the facts of M&A in the graphic communications industry, and whether it is the best path to profitable growth or a risk that may not be worth taking.
The new report is one facet of NAPL’s industry-leading expertise in graphic communications mergers and acquisitions, which also includes M&A consulting services from the NAPL Business Advisory Team; M&A Workshops, co-sponsored by Xerox, which premiered at the PRINT 13 show in September and will next be held at the Gil Hatch Center in Rochester, N.Y., on Nov. 14; and the NAPL book, Strategic Growth: The NAPL Guide to Mergers & Acquisitions. Attendees at the M&A Workshops (www.napl.org/events/ma2013/) receive free copies of both the M&A book and the new M&A study.
The 32-page study is based on the results of a survey and follow-up interviews with 88 companies, with annual sales from under $1 million to more than $150 million. “Our goal was to capture the full range of experiences with M&A,” notes study co-author Andrew Paparozzi, NAPL Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “And we did. For some in our study, M&A has been an unqualified success; for others, it has been an absolute failure.”
Interest in M&A in the graphic communications industry continues to rise, with slightly more than 30% now planning to grow through M&A, compared to just 22.6% two years ago, and nearly triple the 10.9% of five years ago. The study found that the vast majority of those surveyed (87.1%) said their experience with M&A was positive?meeting or exceeding some or all of their expectations.
“There are several reasons for the increased interest in M&A,” notes Paparozzi. “Among the most important is the growing number of printing company owners who recognize that even a healthy economy no longer creates enough organic growth for everyone, and that the time for a build it and they will come’ approach to business has long passed.
Paparozzi and report co-author Joseph Vincenzino, NAPL Senior Economist, note that the primary M&A goals among survey respondents were to expand the company’s business and client base within markets it is already serving (74.7%), fill excess capacity on existing equipment (57.8%), add new products/services and expand capabilities (56.6%), and diversify the company’s client base (51.8%). Other reasons for M&A included consolidating overhead and other expenses (43.4%) and entering a new geographic market (19.3%)
For nearly nine out of 10 respondents, their M&A involvement was worthwhile, with 50% saying that while it had met some expectations but not others, it was still an overall positive experience; 27.4% said it had fully met their expectations; and 9.7% said it had exceed expectations, working out even better than they had expected. On the other side of the coin, 6.5% said it had met some expectations, but not others, and characterized it as an overall negative, and another 6.5% said it had been unsuccessful, falling far short of expectations.
“Clearly, there are no guarantees in M&A,” note Paparozzi and Vincenzino. “Success is not just a matter of finding a willing company that makes sense and going with it. In fact, turning two companies into one can be quite difficult. Companies soon discover that a successful merger or acquisition entails a significant amount of work?both before and after a deal is completed.
“If you are considering M&A as a last ditch effort to drive sales and create positive cash flow, history suggests you probably will not be successful. M&A activity is generally driven by strategic objectives that must form a match between both parties,” they explain, noting that issues such as owner chemistry, organizational cultures, and a strategic fit of both organizations’ products, services, customers, and employees are as, or more, important than the price or structure of the deal.
Among topics reported on in the new study:
• How to prepare for successful mergers and acquisitions.
• How to find ‘a good fit’ in a potential partner.
• How companies evaluate M&A opportunities and find potential merger candidates.
• Advice for beginners from M&A veterans and M&A “lessons learned.”
• Company integration issues and how to make the M&A culture fit work.
“Mergers & Acquisitions: A Growth Strategy for an Industry in Transition,” (NP414) 32 pp., saddle-stitched, is available for $74.95 (NAPL & NAQP members) and $99.95 (non-members). Strategic Growth: The NAPL Guide to Mergers & Acquisitions” 193 pp. paperback, (NP412) is $34.95 (members) and $39.95 (non-members). Registration for the Nov. 14 Mergers & Acquisitions Workshop in Rochester, N.Y., is $245 (members) and $295 (non-members). For information on the study, book, or workshop, go to www.napl.org or call (800) 642-6275, Ext. 6345.