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Continued: Glen Taylor: Soul of a billionaire

  • Article by: TERRY FIEDLER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 26, 1998 - 3:51 PM

Taylor Corp. is the 12th-largest U.S. printing company,
according to American Printer magazine. Though dwarfed by giants
such as R.R. Donnelley in Chicago, which prints magazines and
catalogs, Taylor Corp. has higher profit margins, Taylor says.

Paper power

How rich is Glen Taylor today? When Forbes magazine researchers
estimated Taylor's worth for an October issue, they didn't bother
calculating the value of his majority share of the Timberwolves, or
of his stake in his bank company, or of his miscellaneous holdings
such as 6,000 acres of farmland in southern Minnesota and northern
Iowa. They're pocket change compared to the value of Taylor's 89
percent ownership of Taylor Corp.

Its 12,000 full- and part-time employees - 5,000 of them in
Minnesota - generate annual sales of about $900 million, according
to estimates. Taylor won't confirm the sales other than to say, "you
wouldn't be embarrassed by that figure."

Based on other recent company sales and other factors, Forbes
estimated the worth of Taylor's share in the company at $1 billion.
Taylor emphasizes that the value is hypothetical, that his
company is not for sale. In any case, the magazine ranked Taylor as
the fourth-richest Minnesotan, behind Cargill Inc. heir Jim Cargill,
net worth $1.5 billion; and 80-something entrepreneurs Curt Carlson,
$1.4 billion; and Carl Pohlad, $1.3 billion.

Since that time, Wall Street's love of printing companies has
grown stronger - and Taylor's company has become even more valuable.

Using the estimates of DeWese, who consults on printing company
deals nationally with Compass Capital Advisors in Radnor, Pa., and a
revenue figure of $900 million, Taylor Corp. could be worth $2
billion, after subtracting its relatively modest corporate debt.
That would value Taylor's ownership interest at $1.78 billion,
making him the richest Minnesotan.

Not union made

Taylor says the mission of the company remains the same - to
promote "security and opportunity" for employees, something he
thinks is best done in a non-union environment.

Joyce Hurley, president of Local 1-B of the Graphics
Communications International Union, calls Taylor "an astute
businessman" who is "ruthless to a degree." She notes that his
investment in Golden Valley-based Heinrich Envelope Corp. in 1976
kept the company afloat. But she takes Taylor to task for what she
regards as brass-knuckle tactics.

Heinrich workers got a take-it or leave-it offer in 1988 that
included no overtime pay, reduction of vacation days and medical
co-payments workers hadn't had previously, she says. For four years,
employees worked under "implemented conditions" of the contract,
while Taylor hired more employees who supported his position.

Finally, in 1992, the union was decertified.

Hurley also points to the $620,000 settlement early in 1996 of
two sexual-discrimination suits brought by 40 past and present
employees against Heinrich, in which the company also agreed to pay
the women's legal fees of nearly $900,000.

"Glen lets the managers of his plants be autonomous, and he can
become blind to what they are trying to do sometimes," Hurley
said.

Political life

Over the years Taylor has taken on challenges outside of the
business world.

He had never been to a caucus meeting when he was recruited to
run for state senator. He took the seat in 1981 and served as Senate
minority leader from 1984 through 1986.

"The Jaycees encouraged me to run. It was a very non-political
thing, but I ran as a Republican," he said. "My goals weren't
thought out, other than to provide some service and challenge myself
to learn new things."

The experience was formative. "I was a farm boy, and it
broadened me. I got a bigger picture of society. You saw citizens
who, through no fault of their own, are having problems. It was also
confidence building, being in a bigger arena."

Taylor was well-regarded in both parties. "Glen was there when
you had a Democratic governor and two houses controlled by
Democrats," political analyst D.J. Leary said. "To get things
done, you had to find a way to work with them. In the Legislature,
there are work horses and show horses. Glen Taylor was a work
horse."

Among his interests were education and child care. Taylor Corp.
was one of the first companies in the state to open a company
subsidized and operated day-care center.

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