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Thomas Flottman

Thomas Flottman
By France Griggs Sloat

Thomas Flottman | Bachelor of Arts in history, 1973 | Chief executive officer of Flottman Co., Crestview Hills, Ky.

All in the Family | Flottman and his two siblings are the third generation to own and manage the family’s printing company. He is the chief executive officer, his sister, Susan Flottman Stellar, is the president, and his brother, Peter Flottman, is the vice president of operations and the chief financial officer.

All About Family | “The benefit of being a family business is they care about it,” says Tom, who has a law degree from Salmon P. Chase College of Law. “There’s a certain ownership that doesn’t come with being a shareholder. There’s a legacy, a nurturing and stewardship, that goes along with being a part of this. We don’t make decisions just based on our career objectives.”

Kudos | Flottman’s philosophy and business practices have won the company recognition, including being named by the Printing Industries of America as one of the best work places in America. In August, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce gave it a Business Success Award in the manufacturing and distribution category. And American Printer named it one of the country’s 50 fastest growing printing companies.

Growth Spurt | The Flottmans are growing the company by taking risks. They are investing in new equipment—a six-color press—and refocusing the company’s production toward the commercial side of the business—brochures, pamphlets, catalogues. Lighting Fires | The company has a history of taking risks, though. In 1921, F.E. Flottman, an in-house printer for a stove manufacturer, bought the printing equipment and went out on his own. “He had a lot of confidence,” Flottman says. “Back in those days, you put your name on the building. ‘I’m Flottman, here’s my company and this is what we do.’”

Big Gamble | F.E. Flottman’s big gamble became a big win. The company grew from a commercial job shop into a color lithographer. F.E.’s son, Rodney, joined in the 1940s and took it to the next level by creating a niche market for folded instruction sheets that insert into small packages or attach to outside labels.

Big Payoff | Rodney handed the business to the next generation in 1992. Under Tom’s leadership, it now has 40 employees and about $4 million a year in sales.

Generation Next | The family theme is likely to continue. As the children of the third generation head to college—one of Flottman’s sons is a Xavier freshman this year—they’re thinking about turning matters over to the fourth generation.

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