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Friesens & The Green Bay Packers

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~ A Case Study of a 100th Anniversary Project

Being a centenarian is a rarity. Those who have lived for 100 years or more have learned many life lessons, and gained years of wisdom and experience, earning the right to celebrate in style. In the business world, reaching your 100th anniversary is also a rare and unique milestone worthy of a celebratory acknowledgement, lifetime achievement award, or a book that tells your story to the world! It was a few short years ago when Friesens Corporation joined forces with The Green Bay Packers to help them celebrate their 100th anniversary in a truly memorable way.

 Friesens had already mastered the art of the milestone, continuing their own story of success for over 115 years. It seemed natural for us to help celebrate the legacy of another historical icon: The Green Bay Packers, notably the most storied franchise in the National Football League. Join us as we tell the behind-the-scenes tale of a story worthy of print!

The year was 2021 and we were in the midst of a pandemic with no end in sight, preventing face-to-face meetings, border crossings and endless delays. But regardless of any setbacks, there was an ambitious project in the works combining the efforts of Friesens, KCI Sports Publishing and the Green Bay Packers – a 4-volume book set chronicling their life and legacy.

In the beginning stages, Friesens supplied dummies of the book along with slipcases and a press test was conducted. After some negotiating, the competitive bid was awarded to Friesens in June with a launch date set for December and an all-important game against the Chicago Bears.  The decision was made to have the slipcases produced in Chicago, while the wraps were produced in-house. As with many book printing projects that have a lot of moving parts, press checks are an invaluable tool for the customer, so they have a front row seat in “checking” their book and making sure that the files provided are being printed according to expectations. This involves a detailed quality check for correct paper stock, color accuracy and other important factors.

Unfortunately, there seemed to be a larger-than-life obstacle standing in the way of in-person press checks: Covid was still a very real threat and there was no guarantee that the borders would be open in time, yet the Packers felt the need to have someone on press to ensure the project had the right attention to detail and color. How could we overcome this seemingly impossible mission?

Early on, Friesens suggested that one of our long-time customers, Mike Grandmaison could serve as the substitute “eyes and ears” for the Packers. Mike is a seasoned press checker at Friesens and understands our presses, color space and the operators. He agreed to be involved, and the suggestion was met with favorably by the Packers and KCI since they were already pre-selling the book on their website in the fall.

Once the borders opened, it was decided that Aaron Popkey of the Packers would travel to Friesens and be present at the press, relying heavily on the experience and expertise of Mike Grandmaison and the press operators.  The initial three volumes were successfully produced, and samples were presented to Packers management during the Seattle game that autumn, resulting in many smiling faces.

Once Volume 4 was ready for packing, another complication arose. At the last minute the Packers requested signed copies – 200 end sheets to be exact. So, on a Thursday these end sheets were sent out to various executives and players to autograph, and they had to be back on Monday to keep things on track. They were returned – on time – along with certificates of authenticity that needed to be slipped in with the autographed book.

If you recall, there was a strict deadline for this special cargo to arrive for the Bears game, so timing was critical with packing, shipping and getting these books to their destination. It took the coordinated effort of 4 tractor trailers to bring these books into the waiting hands of their fans.

Ten decades have passed since the Green Bay Packers were first organized at a meeting in downtown Green Bay. Since that August day in 1919, the team’s enduring success has become one of the greatest stories in sports history. Friesens was proud to play a part in this celebration and help tell the Packers best story to the world. Since that exciting time, the project has been reprinted, and has been a best-selling item for the Packers. A true success story of the century!

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