An article titled U.S. Paper Industry Gets an Unexpected Boost in the Wall Street Journal last week largely told the recent history of Mohawk Fine Papers, Inc. The company originally supplied standard papers for document printing, a segment greatly impacted from digital technologies and distribution. Recognizing this downward trend, Mohawk’s president, Thomas D. O’Connor Jr., struck out on a path to pivot the over 80-year-old company. The gamble to provide high-end stationery to the growing digital printing industry that was offering personalized print products from photo books to greeting cards.
Mohawk represents just one sliver of the entire graphic communications market, however, there are lessons from their transition for everyone to heed.
- Recognize you have a need to change. Mohawk, like so many other companies, first saw this in their revenues and dwindling market opportunity.
- Identify growth areas and opportunities for expansion without abandoning your core aptitudes. Mohawk is still a paper company albeit one focused on the higher end of the market.
- Start simple and scale quickly after the model is proven. Mohawk bought a $6 million dollar machine to position itself for the high-end segment a full 8 years before the plan was proven. When the model worked, Mohawk borrowed millions more to acquire businesses and additional assets.
- Never stop betting testing. Mohawk bought a photography software company in 2008 to better understand the market and their customer base.
Read the full article here.