John Roberts Acquires Select Assets of HM Graphics; Milwaukee-Based Printing Operation to Remain Open

John Roberts Chairman and CEO Michael Keene has been a member of the same industry peer group as James “Jim” Sandstrom, president and CEO of HM Graphics, for more than two decades. So, when the opportunity to acquire select assets of what Keene describes as ” a great company” that had run into financial problems presented itself, Keene forged ahead, despite the fact that John Roberts has historically not been an active player on the M&A front.

JR1, a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based The John Roberts Co. group, acquired the largest assets — namely HM Graphics’ nearly 100,000-sq.-ft. Milwaukee facility, its receivables and trade name — and will keep the West Hicks Street printing operation open as a viable business. Keene said the vast majority of HM Graphics’ less than 100 employees are staying on board, including five of the original eight Sandstrom siblings who still remain active in the 50-year-old business. While HM Graphics’ sales had peaked to about $25 million at one point, current revenues had declined to the $17 million to $18 million range, Keene added.

According to the most recent Printing Impressions 400 list of the largest printers in the U.S. and Canada as ranked by annual sales, published in December 2018 (click here to access the complete 2018 PI 400 list), privately-held HM Graphics was ranked No. 213. At the time, it reported most recent fiscal year revenues of $22 million, which comprised 35% direct mail, 15% wide-format digital printing, 15% packaging and 10% general commercial print work.

The John Roberts Co., on the other hand, was ranked No. 108, reporting $49 million in most recent fiscal year sales and 240 employees. Overseen by Keene — a 2008 Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame inductee — the privately held company indicated its revenue mix as being 40% commercial work, 30% direct mail, 20% inserts and other preprints, and 10% catalogs.
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