Quadracci Remembered as an Industry Icon
I'm writing this on July 30 when I and most of the industry received the shocking and sad news of the passing of Harry V. "Larry" Quadracci, 66, the president and founder of Quad/Graphics. Few dispute he has been the single biggest icon in the printing industry for nearly three decades. History will prove his influence even much more enduring than a mere 30 years.
He was the epitome of the American success story, founding the company on July 13, 1971, in an abandoned factory in Pewaukee, WI with 11 employees, using a $35,000 second mortgage on his home and capital raised from a handful of associates. Today, Quad/Graphics thrives as the largest privately-held printing company in North America, employing over 10,000 worldwide and boasting of nearly $2 billion in revenues - due to the vision and leadership of one man.
He didn't like taking the credit, though. On the occasions I had the pleasure of spending time with Harry, and offered him words of praise for his accomplishments, he quickly deflected the honor to his management team and staff. These were the accomplishments of a company, not one man. He made that clear.
Despite his stature in the industry, Harry frequently appeared at trade shows where Quad/Graphics exhibited, and was never too busy to chat with clients (or industry publishers). He always greeted me warmly and often made a point to refer to an article or cover photo from a recent issue of my magazine.
Harry's sense of marketing was as colorful as his printing. For many years, Quad/Graphics advertising dominated trade publications like PrintMedia. Early on, the ads featured New Yorker-style maps where the location of a particular plant, such as Pewaukee, Lorima, Sussex or West Allis, dominated the nation's landscape and appeared much larger than even New York or Los Angeles. He expressed satisfaction to me that such advertising was key to the company's growth and success.