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Graphic Arts Advisors Announces Sale of CL Graphics to The Stevens Group

The Stevens Group, Elmhurst, IL, a full-service print management and marketing support company, has acquired Crystal Lake, IL-based CL Graphics, Inc., a printing and cross-media marketing firm. CL Graphics’ operations will be integrated into The Stevens Group’s Elmhurst facility. Graphic Arts Advisors, LLC, a strategic financial advisory and consulting firm devoted exclusively to all sectors of the graphic communications industry, represented CL Graphics in the acquisition. Graphic Arts Advisors Director Mitch Evans served as lead advisor on this sale.

“CL Graphics’ commitment to providing the highest level of customer service aligns well with our culture, making this acquisition a very positive move for our company,” said John Brahm, president of The Stevens Group. “Our combined expertise in marketing and production will help further enrich the solutions we provide to clients. What’s more, CL Graphics’ extensive experience in direct mail will help broaden our already comprehensive mailing services.”

Rick Schildgen, president and sole owner of CL Graphics, noted that he engaged Graphic Arts Advisors to find a suitable buyer for his firm in March 2017 and finalized the agreement with The Stevens Group on August 1, a mere four months later.

CL Graphics serves a number of niche markets, including nonprofits, libraries, and associations, as well as small and medium-sized businesses in a range of industries. “The combined resources of The Stevens Group and CL Graphics will help us increase the value we provide to organizations in these sectors,” noted Mr. Brahm.

“Before I contacted Graphic Arts Advisors, I had spent six months trying to structure a deal on my own with another printing company, but we could not agree on terms and that eventually fell through,” Mr. Schildgen noted. “I contacted Graphic Arts Advisors because I was aware of their extensive background in the industry and knew they had the expertise to find the right buyer for me. Because they focus solely on graphic communications, they had a good understanding of my company and my clients and that went a long way in facilitating the process.”

Mr. Schildgen, who joined CL Graphics in 1981 and became president and took sole ownership of the firm in 1986, underscored the importance for all business owners to have an exit strategy in place well before they want or need to leave the company. “I knew it was time for me to transition and I wanted to be proactive about it so I could do the right thing for my employees and my clients,” he said. “Graphic Arts Advisors found the best solution for me in The Stevens Group.”

Noting that he would join The Stevens Group to help smooth the transition, he pointed out that “it was important to me that I find a buyer that had made successful acquisitions in the past, which The Stevens Group has. They know how to seamlessly integrate clients to maintain excellent customer service—one of my highest priorities.”

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