When IWCO Direct was acquired by ModusLink (now Steel Connect) 380 days ago, we shared our excitement about becoming part of the Steel Partners family. One year and fifteen days later, we are pleased to report that excitement was justified. Steel Partners’ commitment to fueling our profitable growth with a capital investment strategy designed to bring automation and business optimization to IWCO Direct is moving forward as planned. The year ahead will bring news of technology, systems, and infrastructure enhancements to make us even more agile, reliable, and responsive.
Members of our Leadership and Management teams were schooled in the Steel Business System (SBS) approach to strategic planning. Our three-year plan kicks off in 2019 with three key growth initiatives and three key actions to achieve the plan. The SBS methodology ensures our strategic plan will not suffer the fate of so many strategic planning initiatives that gather dust on a shelf until it’s time to revise some dates, claim a few shallow victories, and explain how market dynamics impacted the objectives. Instead, the SBS approach provides the tools to share our goals, track our progress, and be accountable to ourselves and Steel Partners.
Along with these new opportunities, 2018 had its share of challenges. Karen Weil has written about the tightest, most volatile paper market we’ve seen in years. In February, I wrote about the Postal Regulatory Commission’s (PRC) proposed new rate-making framework that had our industry’s collective head spinning. GDPR went live in May and brought new concerns about regulating how consumer data is used. While some brushed off GDPR as “an EU thing,” the California Consumer Privacy Act demonstrated how one individual can introduce hastily written legislation with far-reaching impact. The labor market presented another set of challenges in our workplaces and communities.
We did not sit idle during these challenges. Our team of subject matter experts (SMEs) was on the front lines, working with our industry associations and business partners to ensure the concerns of the marketing services community were heard and acted upon. We will stay informed and active in 2019 to help protect the interests of our employees, clients, business partners, shareholders, and the industry we have been a member of for fifty years.
There was also good news in 2018, and it will be the launching pad for IWCO Direct in 2019. We expanded our Marketing Services practice and signed a significant contract with one of our largest production customers to provide strategy and creative that will make the physical mail we produce for them more effective while extending its reach to other channels. Our front-end project rolled out to help expand our capacity, reduce cycle time, and enhance quality. The SBS focus on Lean and Continuous Improvement helped us set production records in 2018 that we will beat again in 2019 as we bring automation and new capabilities to our platform.
We will celebrate our fiftieth anniversary in a few months and are proud of our legacy and the path forward we designed in our strategic plan. The history of our company is a timeline of product and service innovation. That tradition will continue at IWCO Direct in 2019, buoyed by our stakeholders and shareholders.
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