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PEOPLE: PATH TO THRIVING
tanked." Always looking forward, Kohler made equipment
investments to stay competitive, being one of the first
companies to offer walk-in use of new technologies like
faxes and color copiers.
However it was the 2007 recession that presented the
biggest challenge. In the months leading up to the financial
crisis, Kohler bought out her family business partners,
experienced turnover of key staff and was burdened
with hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment
debt. The business felt the impacts of the recession early,
with customers immediately pulling back on producing
marketing pieces and printing in general. "Printing used to
be recession-proof, and we no longer were," says Kohler.
"We very well could have lost everything. It got so bad the
bank was going to call our line of credit, which was half a
million dollars. We didn't have a personal guarantee in place
at the time. It looked like one of our only options was to walk
away from the business."
Fortunately Kohler and her husband Fred were able to do a
major refinance, including establishing a personal guarantee
and restructuring the company to get as lean as possible.
"Everything was on the line, but we were determined to keep
this business going. We felt a strong responsibility to keep as
8 | LANCASTERTHRIVING! | Summer/Fall2017
many people working as we could," says Kohler. "I promised
to provide continuous communication and complete
transparency. Employees saw me keeping my word and from
that point I was able to build trust and really build the culture.
Today, culture drives everything here."
It was that solid culture that propelled the company
through a business model transition that culminated with a
rebranding to the H&H Group in 2011. While it was still one
of the largest Sir Speedy franchises in the world, Kohler says
the company wasn't operating like a typical Sir Speedy. "In
the 2000s we began to understand that we could be more
than a printer for our customers, we could be their marketing
partner by offering ways to amplify their brand in addition to
print, through signage and other creative executions," says
New products and a new brand meant new ways of working
for H&H's employees, but instead of resisting the change,
Kohler says an atmosphere of openness and communication
enabled her team to see how it could benefit the company
and their own futures. "My team is incredibly adaptable, but
if we didn't do the work to develop our culture leading up to
this change, it would have been much harder and probably
less successful," Kohler states.
Today, Kohler describes the H&H Group as a values-based
business. "We hire slow and we hire for culture fit," she says.
"If a candidate's values don't fit ours, we won't consider them.
This isn't a family-centered business anymore, but we take
care of each other like family."