BY LINDA BAKER
I’m not sure how much meaning to give the following, but in the past month I’ve encountered two 32-year old female presidents of Portland companies—both who worked their way up the corporate ladder for 8 years before assuming their executive positions in 2010. The first was Icebreaker USA president Lisa Thompson, the subject of a profile in our upcoming April issue. The second, and the subject of this blog post, was Margo Yohner, president of Bridgetown Printing, whom I met the other night at a Portland Female Executives dinner.
I sat at a table with Yohner, Rachel O’Neal, a medical malpractice lawyer, Colleen Bourassa, a skin care representative and Kathy Frederick, a customer sales rep for a packaging company. Toward the end of the evening, Frederick—who is also president and founder of Row for the Cure--asked me a question about the future of print media. I delivered the requisite print journalist's response about its death being greatly exaggerated, the blossoming of innovation online, etc. etc.
Later I chatted with Yohner, the evening’s featured speaker, about the impact of digital communications on her own industry—commercial printing. Bridgetown's growth rate is startling. The 100-year old Portland company, which was acquired by Houston-based Consolidated Graphics in 1996, grossed $12.6 million last year, almost double the $7 million earned two years ago—when Yohner came on board. Operational margins have quadrupled.
“We’ve had to understand how print has transformed, take advantage of technology solutions, increase our talent pool and invest in the right things to stay relevant for our customers,” Yohner said. Bridgetown's investments range from relocating to a $8.5 million, 48,000 square foot facility on Swan Island in 2007 to the purchase of new digital presses, binding and mailing equipment. To stay relevant for one of their customers, Adidas, Bridgetown created print on demand custom catalogs for individual retail accounts, helping the company eliminate wasted pages and reduce shipping costs.
Leveraging CGX’ network of 70 sister companies has also helped the Portland printer boost sales, said Yohner, citing as examples "sister facilities that can assist us with translation needs, that specialize in dye-sublimation, promotional products, and large and grand format printing.”
As for Yohner, her story unfolds as that of a young woman rising to the top in a male-dominated industry. She's the only woman on Bridgetown's executive team--of the 70 presidents overseeing CGX' subsidiaries, only 8 are women. Three of those female presidents were hired in the past couple of years, says Yohner, adding, “Women are beginning to make a mark on this industry.”
An Ohio native, Yohner moved to Portland in 2002. After a serendipitous encounter with a sales manager at a Tualatin pub, the 22 year-old entered the Leadership Development Program at Bridgetown, which immersed Yohner in pre press operations, binding and sales. “Everything the company touches, I was part of that.” She eventually became a sales associate, vice president for strategic sales at CGX, and then president of Bridgetown.
No one could fault Yohner for lack of energy. A founding member of the dance group, Polaris, she rehearses 10 hours a week—the company is currently preparing Dis Cooperire, to be performed during its X-Posed Series in June.
Running a multi-million dollar printing operation by day, dancing by night: not bad for work life balance.
About my profile of Icebreaker’s Lisa Thompson. That story will be available online next week. Or you can read OB's April issue—that’s right, the print version.
Linda Baker is managing editor of Oregon Business.