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Beacon Acquires Ready Reference Line
Volume 598
April 7, 2009

Beacon Promotions (asi/39250) announced today it has acquired the Ready Reference line of pocket and desk planners – a move that effectively signals the departure of MeadWestvaco (asi/70122) from the ad specialty industry. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. "We're tickled pink about the acquisition and about bringing a terrific name like Ready Reference to the Beacon stable of products," Gary Haley, Beacon's senior vice president of sales, told Counselor. "We're excited about a lot of overlap as far as the customers are concerned, and to our surprise a fair number of new customers, and we think that's terrific." Haley estimates as much as a 20%-30% increase in business for Beacon as a result of the agreement.

The Ready Reference line will continue to be produced in MWV's plant in Sidney, NY. Customer service, order processing, sales and imprinting is moved to Beacon's facilities in New Ulm, MN. MWV announced that 106 promotional product employees have been laid off as a result. "This transaction strengthens our business by allowing us to leverage our core competencies in manufacturing stitched and wire-bound books and planners," said David Williamson, executive vice president and general manager for MWV Office Products Group. "We are excited to work with a well-respected promotional products company in Beacon Promotions that will use its sales, marketing and customer service expertise in this channel to move the premium Ready Reference brand products to an expanded base of customers."

Beacon has also struck a separate deal with Yankee Publishing to offer Old Farmer's Almanac products it acquired from MWV. The supplier's line of calendars will be combined with the Ready Reference line, and both catalogs and Web site updates reflecting the new products are available today. Says Art Olsen, Beacon's president, "I expect the transition to go smoothly, as the planning process goes back several months. The Beacon staff is experienced in moving companies and getting them up and running quickly and efficiently."

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