There’s a new man in town , at least, in the printing community.
Los Angeles-based Lithographix, Inc., recently acquired Smurfit Press in Carlsbad.
With 65 employees and almost $12 million in sales last year, Smurfit was the sixth largest commercial printer in the county, according to the San Diego Business Journal’s 1999 List of Largest Commercial Printing Companies.
Although details of the acquisition were not disclosed, Smurfit was acquired through a cash sale that closed Feb. 17, according to Mike Hecht, vice president of sales for Lithographix. An open house is tentatively scheduled for June 1.
The company was already on the “acquisition trail” when Smurfit became available, he said.
“After doing some research, we realized that there was no full-service web and sheet-fed, high-quality commercial printer in the San Diego community,” he said.
In addition, the company thought the San Diego business community was growing, he said.
Following a look at Smurfit’s infrastructure and employee base, Lithographix thought the acquisition was the right purchase to make first in the company’s expansion plans, he said.
But the name on the building isn’t the only thing that is going to change. Lithographix is currently adding new equipment and investing $1 million to rebuild some printing units on one of the existing webs, Hecht said.
The Carlsbad location is also receiving a $250,000 makeover, in which customer lounges and work stations will be added, he said. Customer areas are scheduled for completion in June and work areas are expected to be completed in mid-August.
Most importantly, Lithographix believes it is bringing in the company’s culture and problem-solving attitude, Hecht said, adding that the company is keeping existing Smurfit employees on staff.
Additionally, the company is nationally recognized with annual sales of $100 million, which can attract clients that might not have chosen Smurfit before, he said.
Since the acquisition, the company has received about $2 million worth of business, 30 to 40 percent of which would not have been entertained before, Hecht said.
Lithographix hopes the Carlsbad location will experience the same success as the company. In the past seven years, Lithographix has increased its annual sales by $80 million, he said.
While Smurfit garnered almost $12 million in sales in its best year, the company hopes to bring in more than $17 million in annual sales in the county under the Lithographix name, he said.
This is a first-year goal, and the company hopes to run the Carlsbad press as a $30 million operation, Hecht said.
According to Miriam Thompson, president of the San Diego Printing Association, the Lithographix entry into the San Diego printing market should have a positive effect.
“They have an excellent reputation in the Los Angeles area and I am sure that will continue in San Diego.
“As a printer owned and operated company, the Lithographix purchase of Smurfit Press allows a longtime San Diego company to continue and hopefully prosper which is good for the employees, customers and industry,” she said.