Meeting of the minds
A. We wanted to focus immediately on performance improvement when I came on to lead the turnaround. My approach was to quickly spend as much time with the customers, employees and business as a whole. I wanted to strive to continue to please our customers and win back our former customers by instilling a philosophy of customer delight, and strive aggressively to achieve that. That involved dedicating more resources to customer support and sales, and changing our overall customer service philosophy.
Q. This led to Vertis' restructuring and merger with American Color Graphics. What did you do to guide Vertis through the merger process?
A. The key challenge was concurrently pursuing the turnaround within Vertis, while trying to get the two companies through a financial restructuring. There were so many different stakeholders involved, and they all had differing interests. We had to make everybody understand the benefit of restructuring. We also were balancing that with the operational turnaround we were pursuing and trying to replenish the customer base. We've had the two sales teams learning about each other's products. I had the opportunity to travel all over the country to visit all the American Color Graphics facilities and learn about what they do.
Q. What does the company look like now, after the merger?
A. There are much higher levels of quality and broader product offerings, like e-mail, interactive, direct mail and inserts online. People think of us traditionally as a printer, but we're now more of a solutions provider. We are providing solutions we couldn't provide before. I think we also have much higher levels of customer service. Overall, we are a healthy financial company with more tools and power to service customers. We have re-staffed and re-engineered our customer service and support.
Q. Do you think it's important to offer more digital and interactive services?
A. We think it's critically important to provide these products. There's a tremendous interest from our customers in these interactive media.
Q. Given all that, what does the future hold for direct mail?
A. Print media will still have a place, but more and more our customers are realizing the benefits of integrating digital and interactive, and we want to provide those solutions for them. And, if you combine them with an insert or direct mail piece, we see a lot of opportunities to drive returns. I think targeted print advertising will always be around, and it will become more and more targeted. You get a very good return on your insert dollar, and as long as returns are there advertisers will continue to spend money on it. We think there's always going to be targeted direct mail advertising opportunities.