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July 31, 2002

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In Memory of Harry Quadracci: His Own Style

Yesterday was a sad day for many as the printing industry mourned the loss of Harry Quadracci, President and founder of Quad/Graphics. Many contacted us with memories about his friendship and leadership. Below, we have compiled notable comments from Mr. Quadracci and comments about him from others. We have also listed some of his awards and additional information about his career at Quad/Graphics.

Click here to see the news story about Mr. Quadracci's passing published July 30, 2002.

Click here to view the obituary and address to send condolences published July 31, 2002.

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IN MEMORY of Harry V. Quadracci,
President and Founder, Quad/Graphics,
January 10, 1936 - July 29, 2002

Various Comments from Mr. Harry V. Quadracci:

In 1995, American Printer
quoted Mr. Quadracci discussing the practice of Quad/Graphics licensing technology secrets to competitors. "As long as we're first, we're always ahead of the competition."

In a 1996 interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mr. Quadracci was asked if his company could sustain its rapid growth. "We don't print the whole world yet. When we print the whole world, then we'll have an opportunity to stumble."

Again from the 1996 Journal Sentinel interview, he shared this anecdote: "We have our management group, and one time I came into the management group (meeting) marching in front of a band, dressed as a drum major. And they got a big kick out of it, and the reason I did that is to ask the question: Does a drum major lead the band or does he just walk in front of it? Do you know what the answer is? It's irrelevant. He's gotta be there."

Speaking to American Printer in 1996 about his employees, "Staff members perceive a stake in whatever they do; they see the importance of their actions because they are, in essence, performing for themselves."

Mr. Quadracci’s letter to customers in the spring of 1998: "Imitators need not try. Nor have they. Instead, driven by performance pressures, but lacking strategic vision, our competitors have had no better idea than to eat up their rivals; the competitors left standing are only those that have outlasted others, not companies with real advantage. And so, becoming giants by appeasing their appetites for acquisition, just what have they built? An industry powerhouse? A technological tower of Babel? A souffle?"

Mr. Quadracci’s letter to customers in 1998: "Quad/Graphics has repeatedly said "No" ... to becoming a public company, which would shift our focus to churning numbers for Wall Street at the expense of satisfying clients. We have said "No" ... to growth by acquisition, which would create links – probable weak links – in our chain of strategic fit. We’ve said "No" ... to below-cost pricing, because it is really stupid! We’ve said "No" ... to embarking down the bewitching Information Super Highway, which would underutilize our resources and keep us from doing what we do best."

His letter to customers in the spring of 1999: "More and more catalogers are exploring the wonders of selling their wares on the Internet. And why not? It's another avenue in which to reach an audience. But when it comes to mining a name – that is, targeting a known buyer for future sales – ink on paper is still the preferred medium. Telemarketing is intrusive. Unsolicited e-mail is invasive. Print is just right."

At the 1999 Web Offset Conference, Graphic Arts Monthly reported that Mr. Quadracci called the World Wide Web just another broad band of communications, beautifully supplemented by print. He pointed to Dell Computer, which has been wildly successful eliminating the reseller and selling direct to customers. But, Quadracci noted, Dell needs to print and distribute millions of catalogs to reach its prospects.

From an open letter to customers in the summer of 1999: "We are in the Age of Advertising. Baby Boomers, now in their peak spending years, have a lot of buying power, and there's going to be a lot of advertising to get that dollar. The best way to harness that buying power will be through properly promoting the brand ... and the most effective media for brand promotion will continue to be ink on paper. It's The Brand, Stupid, it's The Brand!"

From his 2000 letter to customers: "At Quad/Graphics, our focus is fit. Our lasting competitive advantage isn't anchored to individual activities; it's secured to how all the activities fit together. Nobody can copy our fit. That's what makes Quad/Graphics different and better."

Speaking to Dotprint.com at DRUPA 2000: "Computers run on Gigo - Garbage in Garbage out, it's still so for web enabled business. If you don't have anything in the first place, just putting up a web site means you still have nothing. You need production systems."

At the 2001 R&E Council Pressroom Conference, Harry Quadracci, described his push toward a "lights out" workplace, in which many routine tasks are automated. Quadracci told the group that the printing plant of the future will consist of "knowledge" and "high work ethic" workers, who rely on technology to perform many functions now done by skilled employees.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal in January of this year: "When I look back over the last 30 years, the truth is I'm not sure I would do it again. I don't know if the odds would be with me again. ... It's been dumb luck."


Said About Mr. Harry V. Quadracci:

Guru Tom Peters writing about him in 1993:
"Harry Quadracci, CEO of printing superstar Quad/Graphics, is, like Roger Milliken, an inveterate modernizer. When he's polished a new production technique, he immediately licenses the technology to his toughest competitors. As he sees it, it makes him a winner three times over. First, he pockets the license fees. Second, he helps improve his industry -- the healthier it is, the healthier he'll be, Quadracci says. Third (and most important), the quick transfer of ideas to top competitors forces Quad/Graphics to move forward, faster."

Paul E. Herr in "Managing the Tribe" in 1996: "Harry's plan was a radical shift from the modern corporate template. His departure from the conventional paradigm was embodied in his motto--"MBAs need not apply". Harry, you see, picked his senior management team from the plant floor and thereby blurred the distinction between white collar and blue collar workers. He created a unified tribe without class distinction."

1999, Skidmore College in New York describing the "Quadracci Chair in Social Responsibility": "Harry Quadracci has said that businesses have both a moral and an economic imperative to support their communities; after all, only a thriving community can afford to buy businesses’ products."

January 2002: Angelo Rivello, currently senior vice president of manufacturing and distribution for Newsweek told The Wall Street Journal about Quad’s first real break which came in 1978 when it landed a contract to print Newsweek. Rivello knew Mr. Quadracci and when another printer was idled by a strike, he contacted him. Newsweek planned to fly the film to print its magazine covers to Wisconsin, but a snowstorm in Chicago delayed the delivery. "I called to tell [Quad/Graphics] that the film was going to be late and to apologize," Mr. Rivello says. But a company pressman had driven through the storm to pick up the film and the covers were already being printed. "From the first job we gave them, they surprised us."

February 2002 - Upon Mr. Quadracci’s receipt of the 2002 Kronenberg Award, R&E Council Managing Director Ronald L. Mihills said: "The Council is pleased to name Harry Quadracci, a true leader in the graphic arts industry, as the 2002 Kronenberg Award recipient. He joins only twelve other executives who have been honored for their unfailing dedication to both the industry and the Council."


Click here to search for Quad/Graphics in our archive.

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As president and founder of Quad/Graphics, Harry V. Quadracci guided the company to the vanguard of the printing industry in the 31 years since its founding in 1971. Mr. Quadracci was widely acclaimed for his unusual style of management and was the subject of numerous articles and books.

A native of Racine, Wis., Mr. Quadracci earned a B.A. in philosophy from Regis College in Denver (1957), and a juris doctor from Columbia University School of Law (1960). After teaching and practicing law in New York City, Mr. Quadracci returned to Milwaukee. Following his father's footsteps in the printing business, he became associated with the W.A. Krueger Co., serving at one time or another as director of Industrial Relations, vice president and general manager of the Wisconsin Operations, and chairman of the Manufacturing Management Committee. In 1970, he resigned to found Quad/Graphics.

Quad/Graphics has burgeoned into a leading printing, technology and media company from the modest beginnings in 1971 with 11 employees, a leased press and a borrowed binder in a 20,000-square-foot plant in rural Pewaukee, Wis. Today, Quad/Graphics is the largest privately owned printing company in North America, with more than 1,000 magazine, catalog, retail insert and direct mail clients.

The company employs 14,000 employees from 35 print-production and parcel sortations facilities, including three international print partnerships located in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Warsaw, Poland. Annual sales total $1.8 billion.

Mr. Quadracci's long-standing visionary leadership in the printing industry made him the unanimous choice for the Web Offset Association's inaugural Vision Award, presented at the association's annual conference in May 1999. That same month, the Wisconsin Direct Marketing Association also honored him as its Direct Marketer of the Year, recognizing his steadfast efforts to advance the direct-mail industry.

Among Mr. Quadracci's other honors: In 1997, he was named Wisconsin's Master Entrepreneur of the Year, and, because of Quad/Graphics' investments in Polish print partner Winkowski, the Polish government recognized him as a national hero in 2000.

Mr. Quadracci was an active board member of a number of nationally known educational institutions as well as industry groups. He served on the board of the Direct Marketing Association, the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation, the Gravure Catalog & Insert Council, the Marquette University Business Advisory Board and the Columbia University Law School Board of Visitors.

In addition, he was a member of the Graphic Communications Association, the Magazine Publisher's Association, the World Presidents Organization and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Business Advisory Committee.

Mr. Quadracci's wife, Betty, is publisher of Milwaukee Magazine and president of Quad/Creative.

The Quadraccis have four children: Richard, owner of Quadracci Engineering; Kathryn Quadracci Flores, a surgeon; Joel, Quad/Graphics vice president of Print Sales; and Elizabeth, Manager of Client Marketing and a New York City Sales manager.


A snapshot of his charitable activities and personal awards:

- 1995 - $500,000 donation to St. Josaphat's Basilica Church

- 1997 - Pledged $10 million to the Milwaukee Art Museum campaign for a new addition.

- 1997 - named Wisconsin’s Entrepreneur of the Year

- 1998 - Diamond Award from Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson for its family-friendly employee benefits and fairness to women and minorities

- 1999 - received the Web Offset Association inaugural Vision Award

- 1999 - Direct Marketing Association named him Direct Marketer of the Year

- 2000 - named a national hero by Poland for his contributions to the Polish economy

- 2002 - recipient of the R&E Council John L. Kronenberg Industry Leadership Award.


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