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Kelmscott builds on Medford buyout

A year after it purchased Medford's Commercial Printing, Kelmscott Communications is on its way to building a national printing force.

In the past two months alone, the San Francisco-based firm has purchased three companies — bringing its total to eight — and more deals are in the works.

The idea, says Kelmscott President Ron Jensen, is to build a national network of printing companies able to provide a one-stop-shopping-style service to corporate customers.

We view the general commercial printing market as underserved, he says. The new corporate model is one of purchasing products centrally as opposed to regionally.

But while corporate customers want to be able to purchase printing from one source, Jensen says they also want that source to have the facilities to deliver between regions without high freight or mailing costs.

That's the market Kelmscott, which has built its annualized revenues to $140 million, is aiming for. To be able to extend its geographic reach, the firm is on the prowl for companies to acquire, particularly around metropolitan areas.

So far on the West Coast, it has facilities in Seattle, San Francisco and Southern California. It's also branched into the Midwest in Kansas City and Chaska, Minn. Soon, it will push farther east.

We will be making acquisitions in the east in the next 90 to 120 days, says Jensen.

The company will continue to acquire firms as long as its performance supports such expansion, Jensen says.

So where does Commercial Printing fit into the mix, and what does this national plan mean for the local firm? Jensen says Commercial was attractive to Kelmscott because of its prowess in documentation printing — training manuals and the like.

Their documentation capabilities greatly added to our strategy of selling diverse services, he says. Commercial is also very efficient.

Cleve Tooker, who sold Commercial to Kelmscott and still runs the business, says the big thing Commercial brings to the table is its web printing press, which can produce high-quality color books.

Commercial traditionally focused on the West Coast, building a regional business. joining Kelmscott, Tooker says Commercial was able to expand its reach.

Now, we are part of a larger organization that is moving forward, says Tooker.

Jensen says the acquisition has been good for both Kelmscott as a whole and the Medford operation, which has benefited from extra business from other Kelmscott companies and clients.

Kelmscott was founded in July 1999 with the acquisition of three companies: Watermark Press of San Francisco, Printing Control of Seattle and Medford's Commercial Printing. It is a privately held company backed by three investors: JP Morgan Capital, First Union Capital and Duff, Ackerman and Goodrich. It has more than 800 employees, including 190 to 209 at Commercial.