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Rochester Top 100: Printer sees growth through diversification

Rochester Business Journal
April 29, 2016

(Photo by Kimberly McKinzie)

During a volatile time in the commercial print industry, John Place and the rest of his team at Mercury Print Productions Inc. chose to diversify, find a niche and capitalize on it. In the last six years the company has grown by entering the educational print market.

“Printers these days do have to diversify and go after other parts of the business,” CEO Place acknowledged.

The company, which was founded by Place’s mother, Valerie Mannix, in 1969, employs 215 people at its Rochester Technology Park facility in Gates. When Place joined with his mother—who is now retired—in the family business in 1979, the printer had four employees. The number of employees has increased roughly 6 percent since 2013, thanks in part to the firm’s new direction.

While Place declined to discuss revenue, in 2013 the company reported nearly $30 million in sales, the 2014 Rochester Business Journal List of Commercial Printers shows.

Mercury President Christian Schamberger said the firm has some lofty goals moving forward.

“We’d like to be at $60 million in the next five years. We’ve seen a significant amount of growth in terms of revenue and volume as a result of some of the technology investments we have made,” Schamberger said. “And we do attribute a lot of our success in growth to the employees. So it’s one of the differentiating factors we like to capitalize on out there.”

Its focus on service also sets the company apart, Schamberger said.

“We joke around a little that we offer a white glove service,” Schamberger said, “from the standpoint that we really never say no to our customers. We try to offer a solution for them.”

Place and Schamberger said they expect to increase staffing in the near future, and in January the company announced it had inked a multimillion-dollar textbook publishing deal that would increase its staff by up to 15 percent in the first half of this year.

“We really do believe there’s a lot of opportunities out there,” Place said about the company’s growth potential. “We’re hoping that we will be able to grow (staff) probably 10 percent.”

New technology in the print sector will play a role in the firm’s growth, and for that reason it is a good time for printers, Place said.

“We really believe that technology is driving great ideas for printers to help streamline on the production side,” Place said. “It’s just a good time to grow in the printing world.”

Being on the leading edge of that technology sets the company apart from competitors.

“With all the technologies that are out there, with automation, Mercury’s really embracing that,” Place explained. “If anything new comes out we try to be the one to beta test it. We have to make sure what we do here is keeping up with the technology.”

Technology can be expensive, and Schamberger jokes the firm’s mantra is to be “on the bleeding edge of technology.”

“Because it does present some challenges at times. We want to be on the forefront; we want to be recognized by our customers as that company that utilizes the technology and tries to offer solutions to them with it,” Schamberger said. “That’s probably the biggest challenge that we’re faced with, is continuing to invest in and utilizing the depth of technology.”

The outlook for Mercury is good, Schamberger said, and that ties in to the company’s investment in new technology.

“Technology is changing how content is delivered, whether it’s through iPads, through social media, through online. With that said, the overall volume of print is decreasing throughout the world,” Schamberger noted. “With some of this new technology, we’ve really focused on the short-run, customizable products.”

As demand for print declines, Mercury has invested in technology that allows it to offer publishers cost-effective, economical options for printing smaller runs, he added.

“And that’s where we’re seeing a lot of our growth,” Schamberger said. “We believe that’s going to continue pretty strong over the next five to 10 years as technology continues to evolve.”

The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. The 2016 Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 2. For more information, go to

Mercury Print Productions Inc.
Commercial printer
Year founded: 1969
Top executive: John Place, CEO
2015 ranking: 89
Current employment: 215
Headquarters: Gates

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