Ad Executive Turned Custom Publisher Buys Cadmus Division, Seeks Agency Partnerships
BOSTON–When Cadmus Communications approached Diana Pohly about buying the custom publishing unit she had run for two years, her bosses made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.
Cadmus funded and guaranteed the loan, leaving Pohly as the sole owner of the division, which has been renamed Pohly & Partners, she said. Apart from acting as guarantor, Cadmus no longer has any stake in finances or operations.
“For a large public company looking to divest itself in a timely fashion, it makes sense to talk to the leadership already there,” Pohly said. The purchase price was not disclosed.
Cadmus has been looking to spin off divisions not in line with its core printing, catalog, point-of-purchase, direct marketing and packaging businesses, said C. Stephenson Gillispie, chairman of the Richmond, Va.-based company. Custom publishing was a small portion of Cadmus’ overall business and simply did not fit into its long-term plans, Gillispie said.
The custom publishing operation employs 40 staffers in Boston and claims about $11 million in annual revenues, Pohly said. Cadmus claimed total 1998 revenues of $394 million and net income of $9.1 million.
Along with Pohly, the startup is led by an executive committee of former Cadmus Custom Publishing executives, including Tom Tetreault, vice president of finance and operations; Michael Buller, editorial director; Kevin Miller, design director; and Deborah Beckett, director of marketing services.
Pohly & Partners counts Continental Airlines, Sotheby’s International Realty and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Michigan as its biggest accounts.
Pohly looks to build on custom magazine and newsletter publishing to branch into the broader “relationship marketing” arena. Adding depth in online and direct marketing through new hires and affiliations are the order of the day, according to Pohly.
A former new business specialist at former Boston agency Duval Woglom Brueckner & Partners, Pohly hopes to partner with local shops, working as a subcontractor on their existing accounts.
Pohly & Partners has already scored on that front, picking up publishing chores for the glossy Getaway Guide, which is created in conjunction with Holland Mark Martin Edmund in Boston for the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism.
With industry groups estimating the custom publishing market at more than $1 billion nationwide, Pohly’s competitors agree the time is right for a new custom publisher to enter the fray.
“All Fortune 1000 companies have publications. It’s a good market,” said Robert George, president of Custom Communications International, Newton, Mass., which has created publications for companies such as AT&T, IBM and Time-Life.
According to Ellen Romanow, vice president of International Data Group’s CIO Communications, Framingham, Mass., having a parent company with existing accounts to leverage into custom relationships can be invaluable.
However, “Cadmus really didn’t have a name in publishing anyway,” so breaking away probably won’t hurt Pohly much in the near term, said John Caldwell, president of 20-person Custom Communications Partners in Boston, which works for IBM, Fidelity Investments and others.
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