I write this month's editorial on the morning of my 41st birthday. It is hard for me to believe so much time has passed (especially with the "You know you grew up in ..." Facebook posts that instantly cause a lifetime of memories to come rushing back). But time does march on and those birthdays, anniversaries and other dates serve as great testaments to how much our lives and businesses change and how incredibly adaptable and intelligent we are.
This last month I had the pleasure to visit Norwood & BIC Graphic North America's facility in Red Wing, Minn. I had never been to Minnesota and was immediately struck by the beauty of the landscape. After my arrival at their facility, I was also struck by the wave of change that has taken place within the two merged companies, the lives of their employees and our industry as a whole.
In 1945, just outside of Paris, the BIC brand was born. By the 1950s BIC revolutionized the pen industry by, at long last, perfecting the ballpoint pen. Since that time, the company has built an international brand that enjoys recognition equivalent to that of Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Nike. When BIC Graphic USA acquired Norwood Promotional Products in 2009, we were all curious as to how the change would play out.
While any acquisition is sure to experience growing pains, as I noted above, we are adaptable and smart creatures. My visit to Norwood & BIC Graphic's Redwing facility demonstrated a company that over the course of the last two years moved steadfast through the transition, and with their branding prowess, effectively integrated two companies into one and landed the number three spot on Promo Marketing's Top 50 Suppliers list.
2009 to 2011 have been a proving ground for many companies adjusting to a new world. It has been a roller coaster ride of change, but here we are. An industry that during recessionary woes, still boasted more than $18 billion in sales in 2010. An industry that jumped into product safety and compliance and adapted to a set of new laws and a new way of thinking.