Fall Scattershooting

I’m in one of my favorite places for writing – seat 20A.  I’m headed to Kansas City on a typical fall day.  Or is it?

In Texas the talk is not about football, it’s about the Texas Rangers and the team just being one win away from their first-ever world championship.  While in Missouri the talk is split between Mizzou leaving the Big 12 and headed to the SEC and will the Birds from St. Louis be able to mount a come back.  Everything should be clear by the end of the week.

In Fort Worth rumors abound about one of the area’s iconic printing companies.  A recent Fort Worth Star Telegram article put Branch-Smith in foreclosure.  Yet, in a conversation I had with management, we shouldn’t be so quick to close the door.  The article was a bit premature and there seems to be some deals going on which will provide new life for the company and its employees.

Early this year the Post Office announced a trial program in Austin to help promote direct mail.  It drew a few raised eyebrows including yours truly.  I attempted to get the attention of the USPS as well as our national leadership in how this program could backfire and be detrimental to the industry as a whole.  Regardless (no surprise), the program rolled out and was titled Direct Mail Hub, and now that it is beginning to affect more firms has drawn commentary from PIA’s Mike Makin and others.

Kudos to KBA North America, headquartered in North Texas as they recently were recognized by the Patent Board’s Patent Scorecard for manufacturers of heavy industrial equipment in 2011. The Patent Board’s Patent Scorecard is based on the scale, quality, impact, and nearness to core science of a company’s patent-based intellectual property.

Henry Wurst in Kansas City has announced they are closing their North Carolina facility.  It’s another sign of the times and not an easy decision based on a conversation I had with HWI’s president Mark Hanf.  Yet, with much of the Carolina facility’s work re-locating to the company’s two other plants, the company has balanced their capabilities with the market.

Speaking of the turmoil in the web industry, Quad is closing their Stillwater, Oklahoma plant.  The plant, which was a former Quebecor World operation employed over 200 folks, and will have a sizable impact on that community.

PIA MidAmerica is not immune to changes.  Long-time and familiar industry face Jim Oldebeken is leaving our family to pursue another path.  Jim was willing to play a different role with our Association over the past 10 years, but realized his talents were not being utilized.  With our need to re-balance budgets (a continual process over the past 6 years), the time was right for all of us.  Jim is now working with another association in Kansas City  – in the biomedical field and with plenty of upside for his career.  His replacement will be a familiar face in Kansas City — Loretta Nichols. She started her new career this past week and with her long-time industry experience and entrepreneurial nature should do an outstanding job for the industry.  Best wishes to the Big Guy – but I expect we’ll be seeing him around every once and a while.

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