Surprised but Not Discouraged

By Mark A. Taylor

The announcement took most of us by surprise.

Randy Scott, president of Standard Publishing, told employees October 26 that our parent company, Standex International Corporation, had decided to offer our company for sale.

Christian businessman John Bolten purchased Standard Publishing in 1955, the first acquisition in what would become an international conglomerate of 22 companies with operations in Australia, Europe, and North America. The resulting corporation, Standex International, has grouped its operations into five categories: Food Service Equipment, Air Distribution Products, Engineered Products, Engraving, and Consumer Products. Standard Publishing is one of three companies in that last group. The other two, Berean Christian Stores, and Standex Direct, a direct mail food retailer, are also for sale.

According to an October 27 news release, Standex has retained New York based investment banking firm Berkery, Noyes & Co., LLC to identify potential buyers for the three companies.

The surprise to Standard employees was not that Standex would consider selling us. The corporation took the same step three years ago but did not consummate a sale with any potential buyer.

The surprise was in light of Standard Publishing’s progress since that time. Under the leadership of Scott, who became president December 2002, Standard has taken several steps forward. Our new line of Sunday school curriculum, HeartShapers, has been introduced to great praise. For the first time, in 2006, we will offer two Vacation Bible School courses, each aimed at different segments of church customers. We have embarked on an expanded program to publish books for adult Christian readers. And our internal organization has been streamlined to function more effectively, including a recent decision to get out of the commercial printing business.

But the decision to sell Standard Publishing is not a reflection of our performance. It is, instead, a strategic move by Standex management to focus on a narrower set of the corporation’s strengths. Roger Fix, Standex president and chief executive officer, put it this way:

The Consumer Products Group does not fit strategically with our other segments. Our other segments manufacture and market engineered products into sectors where we can provide unique solutions for our customers. This action will allow us to reallocate our capital resources to those strategic businesses that offer the greatest opportunity for profitable growth for Standex.

Scott, who has also served as Standex group vice president for the Consumer Group, said, “We believe this decision will benefit both Standex as well as our Consumer Group businesses.” He said this sale could place Standard Publishing with new owners “committed to investing in its future.”

While we are surprised, we are not discouraged. As one employee put it to me, “We will trust God and remain faithful.” We’re excited about the products we will introduce in coming months. We are as committed as ever to our mission of “bringing the Word to life.” And we are convinced that God will use this ministry effectively for many years to come.

For now, we are waiting for him to show us how.

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