Restructuring at Maran leaves its imprint: profits Company climbs out of hole in a year.

January 31, 1992|By Liz Atwood

1990 was a bad year for Barnet Annenberg and his downtown Baltimore graphics company. Sales were in a slump, and clients were going out of business. He overspent on office renovations. He couldn't pay bills on time, and suppliers began to cut him off. His bookkeeper was so harried that she didn't even have time to calculate the extent of the cash hemorrhage.

When the year ended, he was $150,000 in the hole and on the verge of bankruptcy.

Drastic action was needed to save Maran Graphic Specialties Inc., the 63-year-old company Mr. Annenberg's father started. He involved selected employees in the management team, trimmed the staff elsewhere and tightened up on expenses. He even changed his own role.

The result: He closed the books on 1991 with a $60,000 profit on sales of $1.8 million.

To celebrate, he split the earnings evenly with his workers, giving each hourly worker an extra week's pay and each manager $500.

"Nothing could have given me more pleasure," says the tall, balding Mr. Annenberg. "I told them if we made it, we would share profits, even if it was only $20."

He can smile now, but the salvation of Maran was not easy. The commercial and plastics printing company at 320 N. Eutaw St. had grown accustomed to the opulent 1980s, when members of the sales staff were more order takers than salespeople. "We had the fat-cat syndrome," says the blunt-spoken Mr. Annenberg, called Barney by his employees.

The first task Mr. Annenberg undertook was a review of his 35 employees. He and his department heads scrutinized each employee's performance and attitude. Some lost their jobs or retired. The company now has 23 full-time employees.

To increase productivity, many of the remaining workers had to learn new jobs that would make them more flexible.

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