Menu Search
Quad Graphics

Carlton-Bates Uses Team Approach to Help Quad Graphics Meet Critical Business Goals

Customer: Quad Graphics

Key Goals

  • Find a distributor partner who understands unique market and industry challenges, and uses Lean methods
  • Find cost savings in machinery and processes
  • Decrease production time


Carlton-Bates (CBC) overhauled Quad Graphics’ current inventory program and found intelligent and creative ways to save them money and man hours. They lent technical expertise and Lean knowledge, and brought in partners to improve the customer’s manufacturing processes.


  • A CBC field sales rep and supplier partner found a sensor solution that stopped plant shutdowns, saving the customer more than $1 million.
  • CBC used a supplier resource to repair machinery and parts, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in time and investments.
  • The same repair service will replace obsolete parts without Quad Graphics having to redesign machinery.
  • The CBC team brought together different inner departments to develop a customized stocking program. This produced measurable savings in costs and man hours for the customer.

Partnership Brings More Than $1 Million In Savings

“The Carlton-Bates team understands our business model. They get it.” – Jim Harvieux, Quad Graphics’ Senior Sourcing Specialist

Understanding the State of the Economy

CBC Field Sales Rep Dave Abresch often refers to Quad Graphics, a leading provider of print and media solutions, as the “Jetsons” of the printing industry. That’s because they are always on the cutting edge of technology in both Lean thinking and using technical advances in administrative and plant operations. But even these efforts aren’t always enough to spare Quad Graphics’ bottom line from changing times and economic conditions.

With 68 production locations in North America, Quad Graphics chose to decommission several plants to save costs. They then chose CBC to help implement a streamlined ordering process through a Lean approach. This would allow them to address MOQs and yearly catalog pricing updates with more efficiency. It would also have a positive impact on stock levels used to improve on-time delivery, which would help reduce or eliminate availability concerns, delays, and potential expedite fees. Countless hours were spent by CBC Inside Sales Rep Jenn Rose and the entire management team to meet the customer’s expectations.

“We print most of the print materials Americans read. But in today’s economy, we are forced to look for outside-the-box ideas to save money,” said Jim Harvieux, Quad Graphics’ Senior Sourcing Specialist. “We know that if you squeeze the turnip long enough, no blood comes out. We have a contract with CBC in which we document every saving they bring us.”

Harvieux went on to praise CBC’s strong industry knowledge and their ability to quickly assess and address their customers’ needs. “The CBC team really understands our business model. They get it,” Harvieux said. “We drive our suppliers hard. It’s sink or swim. [CBC is] always bringing us new ideas. Not all suppliers do that.”

It also helped that CBC has an exceptional grasp of Lean concepts. “Going back to Lean,” stated Harvieux. “Dave [Abresch] utilizes his line card to find cost savings throughout the plant. Also, the CBC stocking program gives us even more savings.”

Keeping Things Running Smoothly

Downtime is expensive and eats away at the bottom line with increased man hours, machine repairs, component replacements, material waste, and freight expediting. Quad Graphics’ Cyclone/Balers operation, which makes bales of shredded paper, required maintenance personnel to constantly tend to alarms that indicate a backup or potential shutdown of the cyclone. A slower response to this situation could result in additional cyclones shutting down, and likely the entire plant.

Through the consolidated efforts of numerous Quad Graphics personnel, Pepperl + Fuchs sales engineers, and Abresch, a reliable sensing solution was developed and implemented throughout every North American plant. A third-party consultant soon reviewed the changes and found cost savings of more than $1 million a year from reduced man hours, downtime and utilities.

“Dave came up with an industrial system to reduce energies,” said Harvieux. “It made this part of the factory use fewer kilowatts. This solution saves us $1,500 a month per machine.”

Large MROs like Quad Graphics also face a risk when machine component parts are in need of reliable repair, and/or the OEM part(s) becomes obsolete. CBC’s Jackson, Wis., branch used a team effort to introduce Quad Graphics to ATS, another reliable, value-added repair service partner. Quad Graphics is in the early process of implementing ATS’ cost-saving solutions in a few of their plants, with plans to expand nationally.

“We partnered with CBC to find more ways to save money. Case in point, they utilized one of their partners to [help us] replace and repair parts. This saves us money over and over again.”

The combined efforts and dedicated service of the entire CBC management and sales team, supplier partners, and various key Quad Graphics personnel were instrumental in meeting the customer’s priority business goals. These efforts and hard work also earned CBC additional Phoenix Contact business that was once supplied by a top competitor.

“We realized that CBC is a strategic partner. They get total ownership because of price and a dedicated stocking program,” said Harvieux.

Request Information

Contact our sales team below to learn how you can reduce cost and improve customer retention with Carlton-Bates Company's lean solutions and consultative sales approach experience.