Kempenfelt Graphics Group Re-brands
January 27, 2011 | Doug Picklyk | Comments
Earlier this month Kempenfelt Graphics Group launched a new brand identity that distances the company from its printing roots. It’s a subtle name change—removing the word Graphics from its banner—that symbolizes a significant transformation for the Barrie, Ontario business.
“The idea really started in late 2005 and early 2006,” says Mike Suter, president and part owner of Kempenfelt. “We recognized that the print industry was one that we didn’t want to be fully invested in anymore. We saw the evolution of where print was going and we didn’t want to have all of our apples in the same cart.”
Although the seeds were planted five years ago, Suter says the past year-and-a-half has seen a real blossoming of the business into a truly diversified marketing communications company. He indicates the recent name change was really a formality. “It was just time to break away from being considered a printing company,” he says.
Kempenfelt still operates a fully-functioning pressroom with two 40-inch Heidelberg presses and bindery, but as Suter witnesses what’s going on around him in the printing industry—companies struggling, merging and closing—he’s comforted by the moves Kempenfelt has made. “Traditional print is definitely a shrinking market. Every number that you look at suggests that,” he notes.
Suter has seen Kempenfelt’s traditional commercial print business decline, it’s down as much as 25% over the last two years, yet because of the company’s shift in focus—positioning itself as a full-service marketing provider based on a platform of four key offerings: marketing, creative, interactive and printing—the overall business has prospered.
Before Kempenfelt started its evolution company revenues were around $11 million with traditional print representing about 90 percent of sales. Revenues now are just shy of $19 million, and commercial printing accounts for only about 40% of that total.
The shift to marketing services that started in 2006 coincided with the installation of the company’s first high-powered digital colour press, a Xerox iGen3, which has been followed by a second machine in December 2008. When asked if he thought the company would ever buy another offset press, without hesitation Suter says, “No, it’s highly unlikely.”
He estimates that less than 20 percent of the $5 million the company has invested over the past few years has gone toward printing technology. The spending focus now revolves around developing IT infrastructure and building out programs for their customers.
“I haven’t hired anybody on the print side of our business in probably three or four years,” relates Suter (the company currently has 62 employees). “The people that we’ve added are brand and marketing strategists, programmers, web developers, and people that do analytics—all non-print people.”
“When speaking with clients, print is just part of the process, we’re really talking more on a marketing level. In a number of cases we’re the agency of record for many of our customers.”
Suter, who recently turned 40, joined Kempenfelt in 1998 and has held the role of president and part owner since 2005. Minus a couple of the company’s more senior commercial print sales reps, the average age of Kempenfelt’s sales team is in its early 30s. “We have a younger dynamic that looks at the world in a different way,” he says.
For a company whose origins date back to a small print shop launched almost 40 years ago, today’s Kempenfelt Group knows that its growth in the future depends on its ability to understand and show customers how all forms communication, not print alone, can make their businesses better.