Montgomery Business Journal

Slideshow image

Taylor Blackwell MBJ

Dramatic Growth

Walker360 becomes national printing powerhouse

Summer 2016
By David Zaslawsky   
Photography by Robert Fouts

The answer to how long Walker360 has been in business is a range and not an exact number. It’s between 75 years and 100 years and Walker360 President Taylor Blackwell said about 85 years.

That’s because by one name or another the company has been around for a long time and has dramatically changed in just the last year or two. Walker360 acquired two firms last year and that increased the staff from 42 to about 75. “We’re still acclimating ourselves to the increased volume,” Blackwell said.

Last year’s two acquisitions were the company’s largest – Ebsco Media in Birmingham ($15 million in sales in 2015) and Commerce Print Strategies in Montgomery ($1 million in sales last year). Meanwhile, Walker360 had $7.5 million in sales and will hit about $15 million this year as the company spun off some of Ebsco Media’s business. A lot of new equipment was added as well – digital equipment, binding equipment and specialty equipment. Property next door was acquired to add warehouse space.

Walker360 has grown dramatically with five acquisitions in the last 10 years. It is now among the top printing firms in the country by revenue.

After buying Ebsco Media, Walker360 opened an office in Birmingham with sales and customer service staff along with information technology people. The printing is done in Montgomery, where Walker360 operates 24 hours a day and seven days a week to keep up with the projects that average 75 a day. And 40 percent of the work is done overnight. “We have orders that come in to our print-on-demand center and have to go out the same day whether they’re books or whether just collateral-type stuff,” Blackwell said.

Although the company is so large now, no small job is rejected. Blackwell boasts about his firm handling the very small jobs and that means $29 jobs for invitations or small cards. “We did a job this past year that was a half-million dollar job,” Blackwell said. “We have equipment that can do small stuff as well as the large stuff effectively. It makes us competitive across a lot of different areas.”

Walker360 is actually three brands. There is Creative Printing, which was bought three years ago and specializes in small business printing and printing for individuals such as thank-you cards and invitations.

Another brand is the firm’s ad agency called Fifth. “We added a lot of talented people from the industry,” Blackwell said. A creative director was added as well as designers and a writer. “We immediately had a lot of success with getting new clients,” he said.

It opened up a new revenue stream. “It got us into a whole new level of discussions,” Blackwell said. “We’ve had great success and sometimes the projects involve printing and sometimes they don’t. We don’t really care.”

The ad agency addition led to the name change from Walker Printing to Walker360 and then last year the firm decided to position the ad agency as a separate brand.

Walker360 is the primary brand and deals with printing, wide format, mailing, data, analytics and graphic design. Don’t dismiss data and analytics and helping companies target their customers. “It’s important how you’re doing your advertising – that you’re advertising to the right people and that you can measure it and that you’re not wasting your dollars,” Blackwell said.

Having those three brands sets Walker360 apart from other printing businesses. The firm has even handled lobby projects for companies that included getting the area painted, artwork and designing displays.

“We just have more areas that we can help a customer and not just printing,” Blackwell said. “We can help them with their creative. We can help them with their branding. We can help them with their analytics and their targeting. We have an in-house mail shop so we can do their mailing.

“We can do wide formats, banners, posters, displays. We do fulfillment and pick-and-pack. Then you combine all that with (our) design team. We have programmers. It just gives us lots of ways to help people. Then you throw in the size on top and we have more capacity than anybody else around in every area …”

Number of employees:
75; about 65 in Montgomery

Years in business:
85

Locations:
Montgomery
Birmingham
Atlanta

Website:
walker360.com

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