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Friesens surpasses $100M in annual revenue for the first time


January 12, 2022
By PrintAction Staff

An employee-owned company in Altona, Man., Friesens Corporation had a very successful 2021, achieving a record $100 million in sales for the first time. While many other businesses continued to struggle (including two of their own), overall, the company had one of our best years in over a decade, thanks to really strong performance in their book division and the subsidiary company, FriesenPress.

“The company benefited greatly from investments made over the last five years as we’ve expanded our facilities, upgraded equipment, automated processes, and added capacity. All these efforts contributed to our success as we enjoyed unprecedented demand from our customers,” said Byron Loeppky, senior vice-president.

The increase in demand is the result of strong retail sales of printed books. The shortage of supply is a result of limited book manufacturing capacity in North America and major disruptions to global supply chains. All of these positioned Friesens as a desirable print partner for Canadian and American publishers.

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There were certainly challenges over the last 12 months including navigating the health threats of the pandemic, a recruitment shortage, difficult supply chains, and a drop off in yearbook business due to school closures and restricted activities. However, Friesen managed to overcome most of those challenges.

According to the CEO, Chad Friesen, “As a 100 per cent employee-owned company, the staff of Friesens and FriesenPress participate in the financial success of the company. This year, those rewards will exceed $3 million and represent more than a 75 per cent increase in employee-owner payments.”

Employee-owner payments are determined by a number of factors but essentially, when the company earns a profit, it is first invested back into the business, then some cash is set aside for the future, and finally, the left over money is distributed among the owners.

For many of the staff, their employee-ownership benefits are equivalent to over 13-14 per cent of their base wages. If the payments are divided over their hours worked, for some it equates to over $4/hour. So, a team member who earns a base wage of $20/hour, is effectively earning $24/hour when combined with employee-ownership payments. That can make a huge difference in the earning power of employees, and it differentiates Friesens from most other employers. Many of the employee-ownership payments are taxed at a lower rate so not only do employee-owners earn more, but also get to keep more.