2021 Innovator of the Year: Heeter Adapts to Customer Needs and Helps Them Achieve Better ROI

By Dan Marx, Printing Impressions, September 2021

In today’s printing industry, the concept of innovation is wide in definition, but rather narrow in its goal. Leading companies have grasped many tools to define themselves, increase profitability, and differentiate. They utilize new technologies, systems integration, an expanded product mix, exemplary customer service, and more.

As a group, the eight companies included in the 2021 class of Printing Impressions’ Innovators of the Year demonstrate new approaches that can move printing businesses forward and possess strong insight into where the industry is going. Even amid the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, these companies succeed, grow, focus, and inspire.

This year’s innovators were nominated by a group of printing industry experts and consultants, who identified them as notables. The summary of Heeter that follows shares what makes this company innovative, interesting, and exceptional. The insight it presents may provide the inspiration you need to take your company to a new level, or in a new direction.


Founded in 1946, Heeter is a privately held, third-generation commercial printing business led by CEO Scott Heeter. The company’s roots, according to Tom Boyle, VP of sales and marketing, are in commercial printing, and its equipment includes a six-color Heidelberg, and an eight-color Komori press. More than a decade ago, Heeter branched into digital printing, and its lineup now includes two Ricoh Pro VC70000 web-fed inkjet presses.

Production inkjet technology has helped the company achieve its innovator status. “They have moved many of their higher-end direct mail clients over to continuous-feed inkjet, enabling them to provide high image quality, versioned output,” Marco Boer, VP of IT Strategies, says. “This, in turn, has helped their clients get a better return on investment.”

Tom Boyle says that what makes Heeter stand out is its ability to be nimble and adapt to customer needs. He believes the fact that the company is privately held and has a flat leadership structure makes it much easier for the company to adjust, reconsider, and respond to customer requests. As examples of what makes Heeter an innovation leader, Boyle detailed how the company — which has in-house IT and software development — has been able to integrate on a higher level than many companies can. This has positively impacted Heeter’s mailing and distribution, production automation, and kitting activities.

The Heeter management team (front row): Barbra Kilgore, CFO; and Thomas Boyle, VP, Sales and Marketing, Kirk Schlecker, President, Heeter. Back row: Scott Heeter, CEO; Tim Thomas, COO; and Blake Leduc, President, Duke.


With the company’s strong background in commercial printing, Boyle also notes they are very good at color reproduction, and just as strong with data. This mix of color and data expertise has opened opportunities to produce variable-data jobs requiring high levels of quality and sophistication. This has led to unique and profitable work in vertical markets, including casino gaming and healthcare/insurance.

In the near term, Heeter is focused on growth, and recently acquired Cleveland-based Duke Printing & Mailing. This step, Boyle reveals, “is part of Heeter’s targeted growth strategy to expand into different markets, while still staying true to the core of the business.”

In terms of the path forward, “Heeter is working to understand the new normal, and specifically where printing and graphic communications fit into it,” Boyle says. This thinking stems from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, from which the company learned to “strip down, focus, and listen more attentively to the customer. We learned to operate successfully on a much shorter timeline,” he says.

Boyle adds that while print is still the most trusted method of communication, changes in postal rates and increases in paper costs are motivating customers to get more creative with the print they specify. Given this new reality, Heeter is committed to helping customers maximize their spend to get smarter results.


Tom Boyle on Why Heeter’s Innovative Strategies Make the Company Stand Out

Tom Boyle, VP sales and marketing for Heeter, discusses innovative strategies that make the company stand out. Topics addressed include the benefits of high-speed inkjet, how postal increases and paper costs are requiring customers to become more creative with direct-mail (and how Heeter helps them), and why the company has a significant amount of its software development in-house

Video with Tom Boyle: