Printer Regains Footing After Katrina

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A month after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, businesses are working to return their operations to normal. One is First American Printing and Direct Mail, one of the largest combined commercial printing and direct mail operations in the Southeast.

The 115-employee company's headquarters is in Ocean Springs, MS, and serves as a plant-load facility for the U.S. Postal Service. Three smaller production facilities are in Choctaw, MS; Gulfport, MS; and Baton Rouge, LA. Most of First American's Southeast clients are casinos on the Mississippi coast, which are temporarily out of business, but it serves clients nationwide ranging from small DM agencies in nonprofit, travel and tourism to political fundraisers.

"Our headquarters building received some roof damage and a small amount of water as a result of the hurricane," said John McCollins, sales manager at First American Printing and Direct Mail. "The coast juts out a little bit south of us, so even though we are just two miles north of the highway that runs along the beach, we are actually six miles from the Gulf itself. I think that helped."

Most employees left the coast as the storm moved in, McCollins said, but the company lost one employee from the Ocean Springs office who did not evacuate.

The Choctaw plant also received minimal damage, and never closed. But the Gulfport operation, a small digital facility a mile from the Gulf, was not so lucky. It "had windows blown out, and while it did not have flooding, sea water had blown in," McCollins said. "All of the equipment there is being replaced, and that should be completed this week."

Though many of the company's clients also were down, the company was able to finish some jobs in other parts of the country, albeit with a few delays.

"Some jobs were actually completed by hand by employees in our Ocean Springs facility during the week of the storm," McCollins said. "They relied on daylight coming in doors and windows and lanterns."

Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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