We live in a time of fast change.
My partner Tim Thomas and I cannot help but reflect on the massive changes going on in the economy in general and the print and communication industry more specifically.
We are a third generation, family-owned company that is over 70 years old. We find that the change that has occurred in the last five years is much greater than the previous 65. Let’s start with a little history.
Our First 65 years:
• The company was started in 1944 by my grandfather, Dan Heeter, in Bridgeville, PA.
• 23 years later my father Nelson took over the company and did a whopping $200,000 in sales that first year.
• In 1982, Tim joined the company with wild enthusiasm and a full head of hair; he quickly became Nelson’s go-to guy.
• In 1993, I joined the company as a sales rep. We focused on two-color commercial printing, and sales totaled $2.3 million. We then expanded to color printing.
• We began investing 15 years ago in technology and services that were complimentary to commercial printing. The venture into mailing, literature fulfillment and distribution, and variable data has been one of the best moves we’ve made. Our ‘new’ services allowed us to move a lot of our business relationships beyond doing ‘jobs’ for customers to becoming a partner more strategically aligned with customers’ marketing goals.
The Last 5 Years:
While our investments in technology began to accelerate 15 years ago, the major turning point of our business occurred 5 years ago when we hired our first VP of Technology. That was a major step for us in our transformation.
Kirk Schlecker, our VP of Operations for over 4 years, now runs the Technology Group. He brings a valuable blend of Operations and Technology to the company.
In addition to building the Technology team, we’ve invested in innovative presses and advanced finishing equipment, expanded our facilities to 80,000 square feet, and gained important compliances. We detail the recent investments in this newsletter.
These moves have sped up our transition from being a‘print company with technology’ to a ‘technology company that prints.’ The transformation has been quite challenging at times (we thank our customers for their patience with the inevitable hiccups as we roll out new equipment and systems), yet beneficial to the overall health and long term relevancy of the company. We hope you see the differences in the value of the services you are getting from Heeter.
These investments in people and equipment have led to growth that is higher than industry-average; we grew 9% in 2016. Our employee headcount totaled 95 very talented and dedicated team members; we add 20-30 temporary employees during busy periods.
What differentiates Heeter is our concentration of folks who work in our Technology group. We have 18 developers, web and data programmers, database architects, project managers and IT experts. This focus allows us to deliver more integrated and valuable programs for our customers.
For 2017 we’re anticipating double digit growth. On the technology side of the business, we’ll likely add 5 more people to keep up with client demand.
People Are Key
Whether we invest in software, computers, presses or buildings, it still comes down to the people who make it work. We try not to lose sight of that. Accordingly we spend significantly on their professional development.
We endeavor to make Heeter a great place to work, a place where folks of different skills and abilities can succeed while having fun. While technology may be changing more quickly than ever these days, the importance of the team never changes.
Our Senior Managers, Tim and I spend a lot of time thinking through the rapid changes in the print and communications industry. We are investing in initiatives that bring our customers and employees value.
While our company may be 70 years old, we recognize that adaptability in the coming years is critical. We look forward to working with you to meet these challenges in the coming years.