Skip to comments.Harry Quadracci Dies - Founder of Quad Graphics
Posted on 07/29/2002 8:19:06 PM PDT by WIMom
Quad/Graphics was founded on July 13, 1971, by Harry V. Quadracci, president, who initiated operations in an abandoned millwork factory in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, using a $35,000 second mortgage on his home and capital raised from a handful of associates. Our beginnings were humble: 11 employees, a rented press and a borrowed binder housed in a 20,000-square-foot building.
As with most new concerns, the first years were lean. Establishing rural Pewaukee as a printing mecca was no easy task. An occasional customer would trickle in, but usually only because no other printer would take the work. "We were pretty much known as the company that could do anything, and if we couldn't do it, we would find a way and it would get done," said Bill Deja, vice president of Transportation.
Landing Newsweek in 1978 signified a turning point for our fledgling company. The weekly magazine work enabled us to establish a consistent workload and the opportunity to prove ourselves as a quality-minded, innovative print services provider. In fact, Newsweek has honored Quad/Graphics as its Printer of the Year for the past 15 consecutive years, recognizing, among other factors, our can-do-against-all-odds attitude. So proficient have we become at weekly magazine production, Quad/Graphics now prints numerous weekly titles that capitalize on many of our industry-first capabilities.
In the early to mid-'80s, Quad/Graphics experienced a fast and furious growth spurt, sometimes realizing as much as 40 percent growth in VAM in a single year. We expanded our U.S. facilities from Pewaukee 5 miles north to Sussex, then points farther north, south, east and west. Our international locations complement our expansive domestic network. What does the future hold? As Mr. Quadracci says, "We'll tell you when we get there." As we continue on our journey, we'll no doubt conquer more milestones and all the while follow a long-held belief: if you build plants, work will come.
Quadracci dies in apparent drowning
From the Journal Sentinel
Last Updated: July 29, 2002
President and founder of Quad/Graphics, Harry V. "Larry" Quadracci, 66, died Monday in an apparent drowning in Pine Lake, near his Chenequa home. His body was discovered around 3 p.m. in about 4.5 feet of water after he had been missing all day, the Chenequa Police Department said. The cause of death was under investigation and the Waukesha County medical examiner will be conducting an autopsy.
In a time when we are witnessing the very worst in American business, Harry Quadracci represented the absolute best. He was a managerial genius who trusted his workers and let them decide their own economic fates. Quad/Graphics is one of the very few companies where "management" and the "workers" adore one another. Amazing.
If our corporate ruling class had followed the lead of Harry Quadracci -- instead of the parasite they chose to follow, "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap -- this country would be far better off today, and in more than an economic way.
Goodbye, Harry. You were one of the great ones.
Quad started with 11 employees and has over 14,000 employees now. It's going to be a rough day for a lot of people.
Quad/Graphics president and founder Harry V. Quadracci, 66, died Monday near his Chenequa home on Pine Lake, the Chenequa Police Department reported.
His body was discovered in the lake around 3 p.m. after he had been missing all day, Chenequa police said. The cause of death was under investigation, and the Waukesha County medical examiner is to conduct an autopsy.
Quadracci is survived by his wife, Betty, publisher of Milwaukee Magazine, and four children.
The Quadraccis are philanthropists and art collectors who have been involved in educational, cultural and civic affairs in the Milwaukee metropolitan area.
Quadracci was an entrepreneur before the term became a fashionable buzzword of American business. If anyone seemed to personify the American Dream, it was Quadracci.
He founded Quad/Graphics 31 years ago this month in an abandoned millwork factory in Pewaukee, using a $35,000 second mortgage on his home and capital from a handful of associates. He built the company from nothing into a powerhouse in the American printing industry.
Quad/Graphics now has more than 15 sites on three continents and is the largest privately held printing company in North America.
Over the years, it has printed a wide variety of magazines, including Newsweek, Playboy, National Geographic Traveler, U.S. News & World Report, Time and Popular Mechanics.
His success in building the company helped transform southeastern and south central Wisconsin into a hub for the nation's printing industry. Thousands of jobs resulted.
In a 1996 interview with the Journal Sentinel, Quadracci was asked if his company could sustain its rapid growth.
"We don't print the whole world yet," he said. "When we print the whole world, then we'll have an opportunity to stumble."
Just over two weeks ago, a shaken and distraught Quadracci filtered through a crowd of firefighters and media to take a look at Quad/Graphics' former 10-story automated storage facility, reduced to a burning pile of rubble near Lomira.
His customary Quad/Graphics blue uniform - worn by everyone from Quadracci to the most junior worker - was noticeably absent. He arrived on the scene clad in brown pants and bundled in a green plush sweater.
He stood for several minutes just outside the yellow tape, strung around the area, with his hand over his mouth. In a brief statement, he called the building collapse and fire that killed a Fond du Lac man a disaster of epic proportion.
The cause of the collapse and fire remains under investigation. Recently released reports from the Dodge County Sheriff's Department included eyewitness accounts of the collapse from three men inside the building.
Their statements - coupled with others from Quad/Graphics employees - pointed to faulty welds in the automated racking system that supported the roof. Welds were under repair in the weeks before the collapse, although investigators from local, state and federal agencies say it is too early to name a cause.
The rubble that burned for more than a week was fueled by nearly finished catalogs, including those from Cabela's and L.L. Bean.
Company officials said Quadracci had been working day and night since the fire with little rest.
Dodge County Sheriff Jerold Witte had nothing but praise for Quadracci and his business in the weeks after the collapse.
"The Quadracci family has been extremely cooperative," he said. "They were forthcoming with any information that we've asked for."
Firefighters who battled the blaze were equally complimentary of the Quad/Graphics family.
Every need - from sunscreen to water, oil changes and lost wages - was taken care of by the printing company, firefighters said.
The fire was about the only major setback for a company that grew steadily from its founding.
Anthony Bryant, one of Quadracci's first investors and a member of the company's board of directors since the company's inception, said late Monday, "This is a tragic loss for all of us."
"He was a spirited force behind Quad/Graphics," Bryant said.
Bryant said he saw Quadracci last on Thursday, and noted, "He was under great strain since the fire in Lomira."
"I think he aged 10 years since the day of the fire," Bryant added.
Quadracci's father-in-law, James J. Ewens, died at age 101 the day before the building collapsed.
Ewens was still on the board of directors at Quad/Graphics at the time of his death. He was a co-founding member of the close-knit family business.
Bryant said Quadracci's death hit "like a thunder strike" and he can't fathom how it could have happened.
Nevertheless, the company will continue, Bryant said.
"The company has very strong management, and we will survive and prosper," Bryant said.
Retired Waukesha State Bank president and Republican Party activist Don Taylor called Quadracci "a public servant without being in government."
"The whole community will miss him," Taylor said.
"Harry V. Quadracci embodied the American success story. . . . Harry's entrepreneurial spirit made Quad/Graphics the largest employer in Waukesha County and a printing leader throughout the world," said Waukesha County Executive Dan Finley.
"Harry was quite simply a man with few peers."
As the company grew, so did Quadracci's involvement in charitable causes.
In 1997, Harry and Betty Quadracci pledged $10 million to the Milwaukee Art Museum campaign for a new addition.
The sixth-richest man in Wisconsin in 2001, Quadracci was also a constant donor to local causes and was frequently in attendance at charity balls. He and his wife's $10 million donation largely made the Milwaukee Art Museum's major overhaul possible.
The Quadraccis also donated millions to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, giving their name to the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater. A $500,000 donation to St. Josaphat's Basilica was the first large donation that kick-started the church's 1995 restoration effort.
"An investment in the community," Quadracci called the donation.
Quadracci was as unpredictable as he was generous.
At one company Christmas party, Quadracci entered dressed as a ringmaster riding an elephant. At another event, he walked a tightrope strung across a factory floor. At yet another, he wore an admiral's outfit and led other managers in song.
Again from the 1996 Journal Sentinel interview, he shared this anecdote: "We have our management group, and one time I came into the management group (meeting) marching in front of a band, dressed as a drum major. And they got a big kick out of it, and the reason I did that is to ask the question: Does a drum major lead the band or does he just walk in front of it? Do you know what the answer is? It's irrelevant. He's gotta be there."
This story was written in Milwaukee by Journal Sentinel staff writer Rick Barrett from reports by Franny White, Jesse Garza, Joe Taschler, Jon Olson, Jacqueline Seibel, Lisa Sink and Lauria Lynch-German, all of the Journal Sentinel staff.
Faraday - since I NEVER listen to Belling anymore, I'm wondering what he was questioning? My husband heard bits and pieces and was fairly disgusted. The pathology for a drowning (and/or foul play) is very obvious and doesn't need toxicology reports. So,is Belling questioning whether or not this was a suicide? Does he suspect drug involvement? If Quadracci had suffered heart/lung failure, or some other life threatening problem due to drugs, again toxicology reports aren't necessary...they simply confirm the pathology found on autopsy and examination. I also wonder if a man under sufficient distress to take his own life would have bothered to put on his swim trunks beforehand. Of course, medication could have been a contributing factor to an accidental fall...but I think at this point, only God and Harry knows exactly what happened and speculation from Belling (although he thinks he's God) is just another example, to me, of Belling flapping his jaw without sufficient knowledge of a topic, and in this instance, in extremely poor taste...but from Belling, I guess that's to be expected. ;^)
Was Harry Quadracci's autopsy given priorty over the average Joe on the street- undoubtedly - he's a high-profile individual. What I'm wondering, is what is Belling insinuating - what other circumstances? There was absolutely no sign of foul play or anything untoward???
To digress to the Belling "thing"...my husband said he was ranting the previous day about Lance Armstrong "cheating"...IMHO Belling has become a conspiracy theorist (with NO facts to back up his statements)...my theory being his ratings are falling and he's desperate for a "juicy" scoop of some sort, or he's just too lazy to really research a topic. Until there's any HARD evidence that poor Mr. Quadracci suffered anything more than an unfortunate accident, regardless of precipitating factors, I'll believe the coroner. Having listened to Belling for years and knowing absolutely many of the things he's said have had no basis in fact, and from everything I know of and have worked with in the medical field, the coroner's conclusion makes more sense than Belling's insinuations. It may make interesting talk radio, but without any proof, it is IMHO disrespectful.
LOL - guess that means we should be nuclear physicists!! ;^)