Are you sure you want to remember high school? If so, look to Jostens, the leading US producer of yearbooks and class rings through its memory book and scholastic business segments. Class rings are sold on school campuses and through bookstores, retail jewelers, and the Web, while Jostens' sports rings commemorate professional sports champions (it has made more than 25 Super Bowl rings). Its other graduation products include diplomas, announcements, caps, and gowns. Jostens, founded in 1897 and purchased by CSFB in 2003, was later recapitalized to become part of publishing and marketing services company Visant, co-owned by an affiliate of CSFB and KKR & Co.
Jostens generated nearly 70% of Visant's 2011 revenue. Its scholastic segment accounts for 38% of sales while the commemorative products company brings in another 30% through its memory book unit.
Within its scholastic unit, Jostens sells class rings and certain other graduation products to high schools, colleges, universities, and other specialty markets through independent sales representatives. Sales reps typically partner with students and faculty advisors for yearbook creation, from planning to printing and distribution. Jostens expanded its jewelry business in 2010, when it bought Intergold, a custom jewelry manufacturer. Besides class rings, Jostens also makes and markets championship rings for professional sports teams. It offers chenille letters, letter jackets, mascot mats, plaques, and sports apparel through its purchases of custom awards programs and apparel maker Neff in 2007 and a trio of varsity jacket makers: Rennoc in 2009 and Rock Creek and the DeLong brand from Daden Group in 2010.
Jostens' memory book business publishes and markets yearbooks and related products. Making the most of its sales efforts, the firm shares the same customer base (high schools and universities) for its yearbook business as it does for rings and apparel. As part of this service, Jostens provides memory book products and related services through its OurHubbub.com to create hard-cover books.
The company operates its business solely in the US, where the downturn in the economy has Jostens concentrating more on customer satisfaction to retain its clients until consumers' budgets loosen up. To its credit, Jostens enjoys annual retention rates of about 90% in its major product lines.
Indeed, during the past few years, Jostens has added depth to its portfolio of products and services. It acquired Publishing Enterprises, a Missouri-based maker of Memory Book Company school yearbooks and Meridian student planners, in 2007. Publishing Enterprises also prints items under the PrintLynx label. Jostens also partnered with Pop Warner Little Scholars, a nonprofit youth football and cheerleading organization, to become the official Pop Warner jewelry provider and co-brand promotional programs.
Jostens won a reprieve of sorts in 2008 when a bid to combine two of its major competitors (Herff Jones and American Achievement Corp.) failed to win approval from regulators. The deal would have created a much larger competitor to Jostens. – less