Minority ownership helps printer grow

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NEWPORT — First, the friendly chats over the backyard fence turned into the largest minority-owned printing company in the region.

Now, the owners of Sterling Print Solutions are preparing to tap into lucrative contracts with Cincinnati’s biggest corporate names in a quest to triple their business.

“We’re positioned for a quantum leap in growth,” says Mark Hicks, co-owner with Charlie McGregor. “There aren’t many minority-owned printing companies of our scale in the Midwest. This should open up a lot of opportunities for us.”

When Hicks expanded his nearly 20-year-old business, Printing Gallery, in Florence several years ago he also moved his family there. By coincidence, he built a house next door to McGregor, who also was in the printing business as a salesman and independent broker.

Hicks wanted to hire McGregor, but McGregor suggested a joint business venture instead, and together they launched Sterling Print Solutions last July. Hicks became chief operations officer and McGregor chief executive officer.

Taking resources and employees from Hicks’ former business, the two expanded their staff to 15 and added equipment to take on larger projects at their Newport printing plant. Their strategy is to tap into local Fortune 500 firms that annually look to spend a certain percentage of their budgets with minority-owned companies.

Sterling specializes in printing traditional marketing and mailing materials, such as coupons, catalogs, direct mail and newsletters. Its printing equipment includes pre-press, sheet-fed presses and web presses. The company offers full bindery and die cutting, plus in-house mailing and fulfillment.

Earlier this year, the company became the first Northern Kentucky business to be admitted to the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator Program.

“In the printing industry it’s been a challenge to find (minority) companies,” McGregor says. “We could become one of the most sizeable printers in the region. If you look at the amount of printing being generated in Cincinnati, $20 to $30 million in sales is not an unreasonable goal (for Sterling).”

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