SyNet Media acquires Stark Images’ assets

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:27 pm

SyNet Media acquires Stark Images’ assets

SyNet Media Inc., a startup company that was founded less than a year ago, has acquired the assets of Stark Images, a Milwaukee-based pre-press printing company.
Stark’s equipment and 14 employees have moved from their former home in the Phoenix Building of Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward to SyNet Media’s 10,000 square feet of office space at 1319 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.
"What we were looking for was a company that had a strong color expertise and a high level of professionalism. That’s where Stark fits in," said Eric Hegwood, president of SyNet Media. "The film industry is basically going away. For all intents and purposes, Stark was basically shut down, and we came in and hired their employees and bought what assets they had. Basically, we were their largest creditor."
Hegwood remains a part-owner of Commercial Communications Inc. (CCI), a Waukesha-based company specializing in black-and-white production. CCI, which Hegwood co-founded, has grown to 300 employees and $23 million in annual sales.
Hegwood and CCI’s former chief financial officer, Fred Heckel, co-founded SyNet Media last September in Waukesha and moved the business to downtown Milwaukee in April.
Heckel is now SyNet Media’a chief operating officer, and John Halusan, former president of Stark Images, is Synet’s vice president of sales and marketing.
"One of the reasons we wanted to move to Milwaukee was primarily to support the local advertising industry with the newest color print technology," said Hegwood, who declined to say how much he paid for Stark’s assets. "We needed more space. We had the data management people, we had the clients and we had the equipment, so we moved to Milwaukee.
"We started CCI in 1982 in a recession, and we still grew tremendously. I see color as a more dynamic market than black-and-white, and we have a management team with a lot more experience than we did 20 years ago," Hegwood said.
SyNet Media, which stands for synchronized Internet media, is a short-run and variable-data color printing company that specializes in integrated marketing.
One of the company’s first integrated marketing clients was Fischer’s Department Store, a long-time Watertown business that was looking to develop an e-commerce Web site. SyNet Media helped Fischer’s launch, a Web site in which customers can custom-order the Barbour line of clothing.
Through one-to-one marketing, SyNet Media helps Fischer’s track customers who order the clothing and follow up with Web marketing, custom print marketing and direct mail.
"We’ve combined the new print technology with other interactive technology," Hegwood said.
The Web site has been a cash cow for Fischer’s, according to Todd Fischer, vice president and general manager of the family-owned Watertown store.
"When we initially contacted Synet, we were new to e-commerce and integrated marketing. They took the time to help us understand all of the variables and what type of response we should expect," Fischer said.
"Our distribution of Barbour products has increased dramatically, and we are now considered a top-10 account, vs. being a top-500 account one year ago. Our business has increased an average of 25% to 50% per month and allowed us to distribute our products internationally, versus a 50-mile radius," Fischer said. "In addition, our integrated marketing techniques allow us to deliver a unified message via a number of different media. In fact, Barbour USA is trying to learn our techniquest in order to improve their overall marketing campaigns."
The integrated marketing strategy is fueling SyNet Media’s growth. The company plans to occupy an additional 10,000 square feet of space, hire additional employees and buy more equipment in the next 12 months, Hegwood said.
The company recently made a large investment by purchasing a Heidelberg Nexpress 2100, a state-of-the-art, computerized press.
The ability to print high-quality images for low costs in short or long runs recently helped SyNet Media land a national greeting card printing contract, although Hegwood declined to name the client.
"We’ve got a lot of things going. It’s an exciting market," Hegwood said.

Aug. 8, 2003 Small Business Times, by Steve Jagler, SBT executive editor

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