The Kaeser & Blair Tradition
Our foundation was built in 1894, during the administration of Grover Cleveland. A small printing company, Cincinnati Printing and Paper Products Co., opened its doors at 200 West 8th Street, Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1923, two paper salesman, Dutch Kaeser and Bill Blair purchased the company. In 1925 Dutch and Bill expanded their sales efforts by inaugurating a new and revolutionary method of marketing called, "Direct Selling". That is selling its paper products, exclusively through a national network of independent sales persons. The sales person would write the order and receive a commission on the sale. This revolutionary marketing strategy remains the "heart" of our business today, as we continue to market exclusively through independent sales professionals.
Kaeser & Blair flourished. We are quite proud that even during the great depression, we never missed sending a single commission check. In fact, corporate records show Dutch Kaeser met his payroll with cash during the "bank holiday" that ignited the 1929 depression. It was then that Dutch Kaeser proclaimed, " There is, I feel, no nobler, more secure endeavor than providing business with the means to attract and keep the patronage of their customers. We are in the business of building business." Soon new items such as imprinted pencils, book matches and other printed products were introduced to the market by Kaeser & Blair.
In 1946 Dutch Kaeser's two entrepreneurial sons, Dick and John, decided to give the printing business a try and started their own corporation, Kaeser Incorporated. Their relationship was perfect. Dick pounded the street all day selling, while brother John ran the shop. In 1951 Bill Blair retired from Kaeser & Blair selling his shares to Dutch. Dutch reached an agreement with his sons, and in 1954 the merger between Kaeser Incorporated and Kaeser & Blair was complete. The three Kaeser men continued to build the business, implementing their basic business strategy for direct marketing through independent contractor sales people. In 1966 Dick Kaeser was faced with the most difficult decision of his life. Dutch asked him to leave the streets where he religiously "pounded the pavement" selling for 25 years, and come inside to run the company.
In 1968 Dick Kaeser became president. After 37 years Dutch Kaeser became chairman, so he could spend more time a field with his beloved "bird dogs". It did not turn out that way - he died at his desk while serving Dealers on January 14, 1970.
From 1970 through 1983 Dick and John worked side by side. Dick passed along the title of president to John in 1975. Together they continued to build their business. Recognizing the changing market, John and Dick pursued the addition of more advertising products which were manufactured and printed by suppliers and delivered directly to their customers. These custom printed items, known as "advertising specialties" gave Kaeser & Blair Dealers access to an ever growing market. No longer restricted to those items manufactured in their own plant, K&B Dealers had access to thousands of items, including nationally recognized brands like BIC, Paper Mate and Scheaffer, printed in hundreds of different plants throughout the United States. Due to fierce competition and technology changes, the paper printed products industry steadily declined through the late 70s and early 80s. The market for specialty advertising products however, was just beginning to develop. These products lines were much more profitable for the company and for our Dealers. In 1981 it was decided that the original Kaeser manufacturing plant be closed. This gave K&B the opportunity to concentrate all their efforts and resources on their dealer network. In 1983 after 37 years, John retired to his sailboat in Florida and Kurt Kaeser, Dick's son, joined the company.
13 years later in 1996, Kurt Kaeser became President of the company. He was the third generation in the Kaeser family to have that honor and responsibility. He oversees the thousands of things that must happen behind the scenes to keep a 60 million plus dollar a year corporation functioning smoothly day-in and day-out. Fortunately he was trained well. After attending Wittenberg University his first 13 years at Kaeser & Blair were spent "in the trenches" often fielding over 150 telephone calls a day from Dealers seeking assistance. He's totally dyed-in-the-wool "Dealer Oriented," Dealer devoted," and "Dealer dedicated". He's been there, in your shoes, and furthermore, he's " from the old school," preserving more than 100 years of K&B traditions of Integrity, Responsibility and Reliability. Those are the ethical principles that Kurt works under. Those, combined with an incredible allegiance to Dealers, are what directly relate to our stability and timeless financial prosperity.
Dick Kaeser, now Chairman, is still quite active. Actually, he is still as enthusiastic about this business as he was when he joined his Dad at Kaeser more than 50 years ago. Dick is K&B's mentor, making certain everyone follows the Kaeser tradition, never forgetting the sole reason for K&B's success, their Dealers. In fact, he often reminds K&B officers of the quote written by Dutch Kaeser in the 1937 prospectus, " You wont find any 'shiny pants' executives in our organization, just honest, hardworking folks devoted to your success".