CEO’s devotion to print primes Cathedral for second century

By DAN GUZEWICH Sentinel staff writer

Print is a key part of every company’s customer communications. Print materials will not go away but will continue to evolve.That’s the formula Marianne Gaige applies at Griffiss-based Cathedral Corp., where she is chief executive officer.

Since being hired out of Harvard Business School as the business development director in 1992, she has been part of the ongoing transformation of the company that got its start in Camden as a paperboard manufacturer in 1907.

Today, it is a high quality provider of personalized and variable print and Web presentment services for customers like banks and credit unions, health care providers, investment management, non-profit, government, telecommunications, utilities, higher education and churches.

“We don’t just print static pieces,” she said. “All that we do is personalized to the recipient.”

Gaige, who is being honored next month by YWCA Mohawk Valley as part of its 2009 Salute to Outstanding Women, explains that through data management Cathedral is able to offer personalized print within direct mail marketing campaigns, customer loyalty

communications, customer statements and other account transactional documents.

“We are great at data management,” she smiles.

A particularly hot area right now is the “transpromo” market, which involves the blending of promotional marketing messages with transactional statements such as invoices, confirmations, benefit explanations and other notifications in order to influence customer behavior and ultimately drive business volume.

“The documents we produce for our customers are getting more complex,” she said.

Gaige said that in the last 15 years the mindset of the company has gone from being a “church envelope company” to a firm that is a “data manager who happens to print.”

She planned and led the company’s diversification into the variable data printing of invoices, statements and checks for businesses and non-profit organizations.

Additionally, it was Gaige who told owners of the privately owned business eight years ago that, “‘We need to invest in electronics.’”

Her bosses agreed, and she took on the responsibility for the development of electronic presentment solutions including e-statements, e-billing and payment, and e-mail marketing.

It was her belief that it would be a plus when it came to retaining customers and attracting new ones if Cathedral offered both print and electronic services.

“Our fastest growing business is our e-side,” she said.

For the just-completed fiscal year, she projects increases of 40 percent for electronics and 10 percent for print.

That said, churches remain an important part of Cathedral’s business — Gaige estimates her company has some 6,000 churches as customers.

Headquartered in the former Griffiss Air Force Base commissary, Cathedral has about 185 employees spread among three locations, Rome, Buffalo and Lincoln, R.I. Annual revenues are in the neighborhood of $20 million.

Cathedral moved to Griffiss from Camden in 1999. Asked if she was involved in the decision to make the move, she recalled, “I was the decision.” And in making that decision, “We kept every single person. I think this is a phenomenal location.”

She says workers come from as far way as Boonville, Canastota and Little Falls.

In 2008, Gaige was promoted to chief executive officer and continued as company president, a post she had held since 1996.

A certified public accountant, Gaige, earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Alfred University and received her master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University.

She is active in a number of business, professional and community boards, including Utica College, Upstate Cerebral Palsy, St. Elizabeth Medical Center and the Imaging Network Group, an international association of service companies that specialize in electronic and print presentment.

Gaige lives in Holland Patent with her husband and daughter.

More information can be found at: Rome Sentinel

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