“Print is not dead.”
That’s according to Hallie Satz, founder and CEO of HighRoad Press.
“Now, it’s called integrated marketing,” she said. “Digital and print work together as part of a total campaign.”
Industry statistics may prove her right.
According to studies conducted by CMO Council, 79 percent of consumers will act on direct mail immediately, but only 45 percent will respond to email right away.
And while corporate spend on direct marketing is going up, much of the printing industry has struggled to turn profits.
“The only way to grow profits in printing these days is to bring everything in-house and continuously add more customers,” Satz said. “Every client does less than they used to, so we constantly have to get new customers and offer more services.”
To this end, the commercial offset and digital printing company does everything from prepress to mailing, to digital print-on-demand and die cutting, all under one roof.
Instead of competing with digital printing services, HighRoad built its own digital print division, which it regularly updates with new capabilities, so that it can offer a wider range of options to its customers.
“We have to be very careful about our technology reinvestments,” Satz said. “We have to make sure we invest in something that will not be yesterday’s technology after we buy it. We take a lot of time and usually wait to see some lasting power.”
The strategy has worked for HighRoad.
Since moving the company from SoHo to New Jersey two years ago, HighRoad has achieved a 12 percent growth in revenue.
Female ownership issues
Hallie Satz was among the first generation of women in her family to be given part ownership.
In previous generations, the business was passed down to the men in the family. But because Satz and her fellow female relatives brought in a high percentage of sales, they wielded the influence to change the family business bylaws, which had been created by her grandfather and his brothers in 1922.
While the printing industry has become more inclusive of women, Satz said it has been an uphill climb.
“Printing was a male-dominated business when I started and still is today,” she said. “I really felt I needed to prove myself over and over again to suppliers, employees and clients.”
Even in her own company, of the 48 people she currently employs, only 12 are women.
“Managing a company of many men was not new to me, but being the main owner of a printing company did create some challenges suppliers and clients,” Satz said. “They just had not done business with a woman-owned printing company.
“It was important to make sure everything we did was something no one could poke holes in or criticize.”
There have been advantages to being one of the few women owners in her industry.
“In the early part of the 2000s, diversity spending was becoming a bigger deal at large corporations,” Satz said. “Being a certified woman-owned business was a big help in getting a foot in the door with corporate clients.”
In addition to being certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, HighRoad has several green printing certifications. Satz said the company also made investments in cyber-security.
“We continually reinvent ourselves,” she said. “That’s our vision and the key to our success. We have to be really super-sensitive to what is going on with our clientele all the time.”
But HighRoad wasn’t always charmed. Founded in 2004, the business grew to $10 million in revenue when the recession hit and the firm’s large, corporate clients slashed budgets.
Satz and her partner, Erik Tepfer, called all the employees to vote. The staff had the choice to elect pay cuts across the board or lay off a percentage of workers. The group voted in favor of the pay cut. And they went to work.
HighRoad launched a successful “keep it local” campaign and marketed directly to the agencies and galleries in Manhattan.
Satz and Tepfer also instituted a program for the employees to volunteer at the New York City Rescue Mission every week.
“We had to stop feeling sorry for ourselves,” Satz said. “We had jobs and a place to go. We were still earning a living. Everyone in the company participated.”
The familial company culture Satz and Tepfer maintain comes naturally for the partners. Satz worked in her family’s printing company, Barton Press in West Orange, for 25 years prior to founding HighRoad, while Tepfer worked in his family’s business, CQS Printing, in New York City.
For both Satz and Tepfer, HighRoad is as much a management style as it is a brand.
Since moving from SoHo, the company pays for employees’ train tickets to get from Penn Station to Secaucus Junction. It also runs a shuttle service that gets the employees to and from the train.
Satz may borrow a few lessons from her family’s management style, but she definitely runs things her way now.
“When I was in the family business, there were 13 of us, so everything was run by committee,” Satz said. “It’s a very difficult decision-making process when you are a third-generation family company. Now, we discuss by committee, but we are not run by committee. The decisions come down to me or Erik.”
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