Meyers, a 70-year old family printing business, has named Micheal Lane as its first nonfamily CEO. He will be charged with growing the family business with the goal of eventually handing it over to the next generation of the Dillon family.
Lane joined the Brooklyn Park-based commercial printing and brand marketing company in 2016 as president of Meyers’ Retail Marketing Solutions Division. Lane had a 27-year career at the multinational Cargill Inc. and most recently was CEO of Lofton Label, an Inver Grove Heights-based maker of flexible packaging and labeling equipment.
“Mike’s experience at a very senior level in one of the world’s largest privately held companies, along with his discipline and experience building effective sales, marketing, and production operations made him an ideal choice to fill the position of CEO,” said current CEO David Dillon. “We are confident Mike will continue to lead and position Meyers for future success, while paving the way for the next generation of the Dillon family to grow into more senior leadership positions within the organization.”
Meyers was founded in 1949 by Gerry Dillon with a single piece of printing equipment he purchased from Joe Meyers.
Dillon and two generations of his family have grown the business into a $60 million a year company that employs 250. They operate a 250,000-square-foot facility in Brooklyn Park that houses advanced, one-of-a-kind commercial printing equipment.
The company was able to distinguish itself from other commercial printers through collaboration and by adopting new technologies, officials said.
Meyers helps clients from initial creative design work to printing, assembling, distribution and installation.
The company has five separate divisions that print promotional displays for retailers; cards; product labels; coupons, games and promotional pieces for packaging and shelf displays; and radio-frequency identification and near-field communication products for medical and electronic devices.
Among the services the company offers are the design, printing, assembly and distribution of complex retail store displays that require precision printing and fabrication.
The company also provides retail marketing solutions for clients including Aveda, Ulta, Target, Starbucks, Hormel and Verizon.
Meyers recently sold an electronic product-verification technology and will concentrate going forward on its commercial printing operations.
Family ownership includes David; his brother, Chris Sr.; and nephew Christopher, a third-generation family member and vice president of operations. The brothers will be moving onto board positions with the company effective Jan. 1.
“My job is to do everything I can to help impart some of the wisdom and experiences I have from a company like Cargill to help groom the next level of family leadership that hopefully can take this business further down the road than even I can,” Lane said.
Family business experts said it’s important that new nonfamily leaders understand how the family works.
“That’s usually a really good sign for a family business if they bring in someone specifically to groom the next generation of family,” said Ritch Sorenson, the Opus chair in family business at the University of St. Thomas.
“The Dillon family does not necessarily defer leadership to a family member, it has to be earned,” Lane said.
The next generation will have to prove themselves in every facet of the business. “They have to get a little ink under their fingernails,” he said.
Other family business experts said a willingness to turn a company over to an outsider is a good sign that shows the owners can think longer term.
“Any owner that is going to turn the reins of leadership over to someone else, either a family or nonfamily member, shows that they have good self-awareness,” said Julie Keyes, who runs KeyeStrategies LLC, a Coon Rapids-based advisory firm that coaches family businesses.
Lane said he is tasked with developing a long-term plan to take the business to the next level.
“We have set out a 10-year growth plan that really focuses on taking this business to $100 million,” Lane said. “We are talking somewhere between a 7 and 10 percent annual growth rate, net. … In this printing environment — that is a challenge.”
Lane is preaching a simple strategy that reflects its founder by emphasizing collaboration, excellence and possibilities.
“Gerry Dillon was a guy who really drove collaboration to an extreme level,” Lane said. “When I came in and we dialed back into the DNA of this company, that word just kept coming up and we built our strategy around it.”