Enormous and seductive, the glamorous eye that gazes boldly at passersby from the exterior of the LasikPlus Vision Center is a well-known sight to everyone in the Kenwood area.
And is there anyone in Greater Cincinnati who is unfamiliar with Graeter’s distinctive packaging and design?
Two very different brand marks, for two very different companies. Yet both are the brainchild of one innovative printing company turned multichannel marketing services provider.
Blue Ash-based Graphic Village also created 50-foot banners for Guns N’ Roses to hang off the side of Paul Brown Stadium, and on-field signage celebrating the retirement of Pete Rose’s No. 14 jersey. The company provides many online marketing portals for print management and fulfillment as well as a variety of other services for companies like LasikPlus, Paycor and Drees Homes.
Perhaps more surprising, it produces the monthly magazine of the Chicago Cubs, from its local headquarters and Chicago satellite offices, and was even chosen by the organization to write and design Fly the W, a lavish coffee table book commemorating the team’s 2016 World Series championship.
As President Larry Kuhlman likes to say, “Who knew?”
According to owner and CEO Eric Kahn, Graphic Village offers “the broadest array of capabilities under one roof in this region, from comprehensive print, direct mail, packaging and promotional items to digital advertising, websites and content for publications.”
Kahn, a Wharton-educated investment banker, entered the scene in 2012, purchasing the 90-year-old Bramkamp Printing Company and two other companies, DocuPros and CTS Packaging, on the last day of the year. (Kahn is also founder and managing director of Revitalize Capital, a Cincinnati-based private equity firm.)
The Graphic Village vision was formalized a few weeks later, with the merger of Bramkamp and DocuPros, a digital printing company. (CTS remains in Covington.)
The idea, which originated with previous owners Kuhlman, Kevin Murray, Jeff Hudepohl and Bob Smith, was to “reimagine print marketing” by becoming a one-stop shop for virtually all types of print and digital marketing services.
And reimagine Graphic Village has. Not only has the company won multiple printing industry awards, including 16 Print Excellence Awards in 2018 alone, it has grown from 30 people to 150, fueled by seven strategic acquisitions, cutting-edge digital printing technology, and the addition of a respected industry veteran to its executive team.
EMI Network, a 35-year-old content marketing and creative services firm, joined the Village in February 2017. Everything’s Image, purchased in August, provides apparel decorating services to the advertising specialty industry. Crest Graphics, a Cincinnati-based graphics communications company, became part of the GV family in December 2017. Finally, Multi-Craft, one of Greater Cincinnati’s most venerable and respected graphic communications companies – and one of the area’s largest woman-owned businesses – joined the Village in February 2018. With these acquisitions, Graphic Village is now the largest independent print marketing company in the region. “We’ve been able to deepen our relationships with our current clients and expand our portfolio of services,” Kahn said.
As for his new COO, Daniel Bailey, Kahn believes he is exactly the right person to help GV achieve its ambitious goals – and fast. “Danny’s run companies two to three times our size,” Kahn said. “So he can get us where we need to be.” Bailey, a former president of Florence-based The Hennegan Company, one of the nation’s most-awarded printing companies, brings 30+ years of industry experience to Graphic Village.
“Graphic Village is perfectly suited to serve the needs of clients in our geographical area,” Bailey said. “We do not choose to chase printing business all over the country. Our goal is to serve the metropolitan area with best-in-class service and cutting-edge technology. If we stay true to that target, our business will continue to prosper. Candidly, it is that local service and that commitment to excellence and innovation that make us a valued partner to our clients.”
The company was the first in the region to purchase the advanced HP Indigo 12000 seven-color digital press. Bailey is especially passionate about the power of the HP to personalize mailings to generate more business than generic ones. He said – and numerous studies back him up – that direct mail featuring images and text relevant to the recipient elicit more positive responses.
“It is proven that the more directly you speak to a potential buyer, the more success you will have in selling your goods or services. This is disruptive technology, but it also enhances the ROI for our clients. The HP’s advanced variable printing capabilities make it easy and cost-effective to customize each piece of direct mail. The HP 12000 is the biggest and the best digital press out there, and we are excited about the impact it will have for our clients.”
Added Kuhlman: “The HP lets us go in an entirely new direction and be even more responsive to our customers’ needs. We are truly the technology leader in the print space in this region.”
Growth, Growth and More Growth
What does the future hold for Graphic Village? Growth, growth and more growth. The goal is to grow by 250 percent over the next five years, Kahn said, both organically and through strategic acquisitions. The company continues to pursue additional businesses in the regional marketplace, “both in the same spaces and in unique spaces.”
“When I first bought Bramkamp, a lot of people asked me why would I buy a printing company, because most people don’t think of print as a growing industry.” Kahn has already proved them wrong.