Growth Story

EM Printing continues to expand with Jaco-Bryant acquisition

By Andy Meek

Bartlett-based EM Printing, which earlier this month completed the acquisition of rival commercial printing company Jaco-Bryant Printers Inc., has come a long way in the three decades since Ken Quick started the business in the 300-square-foot garage behind his parents’ home.

Sam Parks of EM Printing operates the 5-Color press at the firm’s 45,000-square-foot facility. Bartlett-based EM Printing has grown a great deal since its start three decades ago in a 300-square-foot garage.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

What would eventually blossom into a printing service with a nearly 45,000-square-foot facility and state-of-the-art printing press equipment was a vision that Quick – EM Printing’s president and CEO – decided to pursue for a simple reason.

After college, he went to work for a company that sold printing equipment, stayed there for a few years and then was struck by the notion, “I could do this.” On the basis of his interest in the business and elbow grease from a few years in the field, Quick bought a printing press and brought it to his parent’s garage. At that point, he had no customers, no business yet – just a foundation on which to build one.

He made the right call, because today his is a company that’s been providing print technology to Memphis-area and Fortune 500 companies since 1981. EM Printing generated more than $4.7 million in sales in 2012 and employed 30 people before the acquisition of Jaco-Bryant.

And it all started from scratch, in a tiny garage.

“I just felt I could do this,” Quick said, thinking back on the early days. “It’s an interesting business. When I started, I’d sell during the day and print at night. I’d deliver the next day, then sell some more.”

Eventually, he built up enough business to hire his first employee. Then he moved out of his parent’s garage. As the business kept growing, Quick kept plowing money back into it – buying equipment, hiring employees and investing in the future.

Most of the time, Quick did almost all of the selling, coupled with a fair amount of production work. Four years ago, EM Printing bought a 44,500-square-foot building – the company’s fifth and “hopefully final move,” Quick said, as it’s grown over the years.

That facility, at 3081 Bartlett Corporate Drive, also represents the first time EM Printing has owned its own space as opposed to leasing one.

In recent days, the company has been moving in employees and equipment from Jaco-Bryant, which grossed $3 million in sales last year.

Today, EM Printing offers an array of services, including sorting addresses all the way to delivery to the post office. Once the print job is complete, EM Printing can collate, sort, apply magnets, stuff kits and more, and the company also has a warehouse where it stores printed materials for companies all over the country and ships to them when needed.

And those are only some of the services it offers.

“One thing we’ve always done is we’ve always had very high commitment to quality printing and a high level of customer service,” Quick said. “Take care of your customer, do what you say you’re going to do, do it when you say you’ll do it, and outperform what you promise.

“We’ve got clients who’ve been doing business with us now for 15 to 20 years. This is not the kind of business where you can go out and sell enough new business every day to keep all this equipment and these people busy. Customer relationships are so important.”

Joining forces with Jaco-Bryant adds 15 people to EM Printing and maintains all Jaco-Bryant’s customer-facing positions. Quick said the combination broadens EM Printing’s business, including new color digital capabilities and a 40-inch press that it didn’t have before, thanks to Jaco-Bryant.

EM Printing bought Jaco-Bryant from the latter’s owner, American Paper Optics. Paulo Aur, chief financial officer of American Paper Optics, said his company was Jaco-Bryant’s biggest customer before owning it, and that American Paper Optics “will continue to be one of the combined company’s largest clients.”