LEBANON, PA -- After 24 years as president and CEO of Sowers Printing, Geoffrey L. Sowers has retired from the day-to-day responsibilities of running the 115-year-old, family-owned business.
Still retaining his official positions and ownership of the operation -- whose 80 employees produce catalogs, directories, newsletters and corporate annual reports -- Sowers has decided it's the appropriate time to position the company for future growth.
"We are planning to phase in new equipment and provide training to help build a bridge to the digital future, an ever-increasing demand in the marketplace," states Sowers.
With a vision of that bridge in mind, Sowers and the company's board of directors have enlisted the expertise of John M. Collard, president of Strategic Management Partners, an Annapolis, MD-based specialist in transition management, to lay the foundation for change.
Collard, who has been named COO, is focusing on building a permanent management team that will successfully lead Sowers Printing in a changing marketplace, and enable it to compete as a high-speed communications company.
"We're looking at one to two more presses, computer-to-plate technology, digital proofing, and internal networks," relates Collard, who feels that the proactive move taken by Sowers is a "healthy process."
Collard is quick to point out the necessity for printers to change in order to meet the needs of customers. Products such as catalogs, he explains, are now not offered only in print, but can be repurposed for use on the Internet and in CD-ROM, opening up new areas of opportunity.
Other technological advancements, such as ISDN links with clients, will enable the company to save time and money.
"I can deal with a customer in New York City, Washington, et-cetera, and distance is transparent," he states. "Our goal is to enhance the throughput of information from customers to us, to get on the press as quickly as possible."
In addition to new equipment, the company -- coming off a slight increase in sales over the past two years -- plans to expand its sales activity in the Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore and Washington, DC, areas. Sowers intends to double the size of its sales force within the year, and eventually expand product offerings.
"With digitalization and the Information Age, things are changing dramatically and the way people think is changing," notes Collard. "It leaves a lot of room for expansion."
BY CAROLYN BAK
Consummate Transition, a year in the making
Strategic Management Partners, a Transition Management Firm