Quadracci Remembered As a True Icon

“A delightful person” and “a spirited leader” are just a few of the tributes catalogers paid Quad/Graphics founder/owner Harry Quadracci upon learning of his death on July 29. Quadracci, 66, was found dead in a lake near his home in Chenequa, WI. The Waukesha County medical examiner determined that it was an accidental drowning.

Quadracci founded Quad/Graphics, a printer of catalogs and magazines, in 1971. The Pewaukee, WI-based company has more than 15 printing facilities on three continents.

“Harry was a very good friend of our family and our company,” says David Hochberg, a spokesperson for Rye, NY-based gifts cataloger Lillian Vernon Corp. “He certainly believed in the power of personality in servicing our account and showed he cared by personally getting involved many times. There certainly was a personal relationship with him aside from a business relationship.”

“More than just a skilled entrepreneur, Harry held true passion for his business and our industry,” says Chris McCormick, president/CEO of Freeport, ME-based outdoor gear and apparel cataloger L.L. Bean. “He was a delightful person and a respected industry colleague.”

Jeff Parnell, vice president/general manager of Warren, PA-based apparel and home goods mailer Blair Corp., calls Quadracci “a catalog industry icon and a spirited leader with extremely dedicated employees. He will be sorely missed.” Parnell worked with Quadracci and Quad/Graphics during stints at the Eximious of London and Overton’s catalogs.

“He was true icon for the industry,” agrees Mike Muoio, president of Oshkosh, WI-based gifts cataloger Miles Kimball. “He was a pioneer who innovated the idea of parcel consolidation. He was always on the edge of technology and always on hand to christen a new press machine.” Muoio knew Quadracci for decades: Quadracci had worked as a stock boy in Muoio’s parents’ grocery store.

Quadracci and his widow, Betty, who is the publisher of Milwaukee magazine, were active philanthropists and art collectors. In 1997, they pledged $10 million to the Milwaukee Art Museum for a major renovation. They’ve also donated millions to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

Quadracci’s death caps off a tragic summer for Quad/Graphics. On July 12, the firm’s 10-story automated storage facility near Lomira, WI, burned down, killing one person. The fire’s cause remains under investigation.

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