I look forward to sharing my annual update to customers, coworkers and partners about Heeter’s progress over the previous year.
Turning a Corner
In the past year, much has changed with the company. When our last external newsletter was published in Fall 2020, we were still in the early months of COVID. We entered the pandemic with a strong team, robust balance sheet, great technology, and some of the best customers in the country. A year later I’m pleased to report that we’ve been able to put the company in an even better position for continued growth.
Throughout the last 18 months we’ve taken numerous steps to ensure our employees have a safe working environment. Several team members did become infected with COVID during the year, but no serious illnesses nor outbreaks occurred at the company. We’ve also been proactive in encouraging our people to get vaccinated and use good safety protocols to stay healthy.
At the end of 2020, our sales were down versus 2019 which had been our best year ever. Even without factoring in PPP funding, we were able to post a small profit, retain all of ouremployees, and still make substantial reinvestments into our company including new equipment and HITRUST Certification. I give our entire team tremendous credit for managing the company and its resources through these most difficult times. As move through fourth-quarter of 2021, we are on pace to exceed our 2019 sales growth by double digits.
Igniting Opportunity: Duke Acquisition
As we kicked off 2021, we began discussions with Blake and Chris Leduc of Duke Print and MailSolutions, located in Cleveland, OH, about an acquisition. We liked how they viewed the future of print in a very similar way as we did.
After a few short months, we were able to close on the transaction in April of this year. This important investment gives us access to a great workforce with very strong mailing capabilities and top notch customers in a new geographic market. It also allows us to deploy our Imperium software solution to their existing customers.
After five months, I’m pleased to report the integration has gone very well with no loss of employees nor customers. We also made substantial upgrades to Duke’s technology infrastructure and are planning for additional CAPEX investments in the coming year. We now have two facilities in Pittsburgh totaling 120,000 ft.² with an additional 30,000 ft.² in the Cleveland market. All three facilities are on the same technology platform with jobs being scheduled simultaneously which allows us to balance work between facilities. This redundancy and consistency enhance our disaster recovery plans.
With the anticipation of new work, we also purchased a new Komori printing press that provides us with much needed capacity and UV coating capabilities. In addition, we almost doubled our digital print and binding capabilities this year with new investments from Ricoh and Standard Horizon. And with the Duke acquisition, we’ve tripled our inserting capabilities.
Like most companies, we’ve had challenges with supply chain and labor. Fortunately, we’ve always maintained great relationships with our suppliers. Although it takes extra effort and time, we’ve been able to secure needed materials. The shortage of labor has also forced us to be more creative with incentives and overtime. But our HR team has done a fantastic job of recruiting, and we still added great people in this tight labor market.
I Am Most Proud of Our People
Throughout our entire organization, I am super impressed with the level of dedication, intelligence and hard work that our team demonstrates. It’s a mix of the wonderful people that have been with us for decades and the young, bright team members, fresh out of college. They all work together, without drama, to help our customers achieve their goals. To all of them I say thank you. They make a difficult and challenging business fun and exciting.
I conclude by expressing profound appreciation to all of our customers and partners who have weathered a challenging 12 months with us. I truly believe rosier, healthier times are ahead.