Banta Turns Focus to Training, Branding

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NEW ORLEANS -- Banta Corp. is turning a new page in its 104-year history.

The printer and supply chain manager is investing more in training and is crafting a corporate rebranding strategy. The changes come six months after Stephanie Streeter added chairman to her president/CEO duties.

Banta, Menasha, WI, is implementing the Six Sigma quality management process throughout its manufacturing operations and soon will roll it out to the sales side as well.

Changing client needs spurred the initiative, said Jim Cyze, president of Banta Direct Marketing Group, Oak Brook, IL. In the 1980s, the customer service representative at the printer was the go-to person for all printing and related needs. That role was dumbed down in the next decade as many intermediaries sprung up. But the pendulum has swung back.

"Clients want us to challenge them to be better, show us how to take programs and make them more cost-effective," Cyze said. "Survivors in the industry are going to be talent-based. I look at the person I'm hiring today as a strategic thinker, consultative seller and solution manager.

"I don't expect my sales executive to know everything, [but] I expect them to orchestrate it. The clients are expecting the print program manager to be that voice of consistency and continuity. In our most successful relationships with our customers today, we're the go-to experts. We know their programs as well as they do."

Much less is known about Banta's rebranding strategy. The $1.5 billion company has clients such as Target Corp., Best Buy Co., Discover, Procter & Gamble Co., Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Lillian Vernon Corp.

Banta prints catalogs for some of its clients. For others, like J.C. Penney Co. Inc., it produces direct mail to support catalogs. It also handles inserts for Target. Other clients use its services for mass and personalized coupons.

The company competes not just with small print production firms. Larger competitors include R.R. Donnelley and QuadGraphics.

"In the past, the printer would get something that was derived, and we'd bid on it," Cyze said. "Now clients are realizing that there's strength in recognizing manufacturers' capabilities at point of design."


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