Jeff Mellander's days at Precision Graphics have come to an end.
CHAMPAIGN — Jeff Mellander's days at Precision Graphics have come to an end.
Mellander, who founded the textbook illustration company 37 years ago, recently sold Precision Graphics to Lachina, a Cleveland-based developer of educational content.
Precision Graphics, which has 32 full-time employees, will continue to be based at 106 S. Neil St., C, Mellander said.
"The office stays here, and the staff stays intact," he said. "Nothing changes other than ownership in the company."
Precision Graphics provides illustration services for some of the biggest names in academic textbook publishing — McGraw-Hill Publishing, Pearson Education, W.W. Norton & Co., Bloomsbury Press, John Wiley & Sons. The company has annual revenues of more than $2 million, he said.
Mellander said the sale to Lachina (pronounced Luh-CHEE-nuh), which took effect May 22, creates "a logical collaboration."
"Jeff Lachina and I have been colleagues, both involved in serving college publishers for 25 years or more. His work was always editorial development and full-service production. Ours was visual development and art production," Mellander said.
The combination should "mean more opportunity, deeper resources available to our clients and more depth for taking on more work," he said. "I couldn't be happier for my staff."
Although the two companies largely provided complementary services, they did compete in providing typesetting and page production services, he said.
Mellander, who was president and CEO of Precision Graphics, said the company's work focus the last five years has been for college and educational publishers. That is expected to continue, he said, and Lachina has also targeted health care and medical education as well as corporate education.
He said he doesn't know how long Lachina will use the Precision Graphics name.
"I think they'll want to leverage the Precision Graphics brand as long as they can," he said. "They're maintaining use of the name, and client relationships are staying the same hands as they are now. It will be as seamless a transition as possible to the clients we serve."
Lachina's chief marketing officer, Jack Calhoun, confirmed the Precision Graphics name will remain for now and be evaluated in the future. He said that with the acquisition, Lachina employs about 75 between the two locations. Jan Troutt, vice president of publishing services for Precision Graphics, will be the office lead in Champaign, he said.
Acquiring Precision Graphics will expand Lachina's visualization capabilities, allowing faster development of visually rich digital content for publishers, universities, biotechnology companies and health care organizations, the company said.
"We believe the future of educational content is digital, visual and mobile," said Jeff Lachina, the company's CEO, in a release. The Precision Graphics office in Champaign will be Lachina's primary illustration studio, the company said.
Lachina's services include editorial work, design and production, biomedical illustration and visualization, animation, interactive media, creative direction and project management.
Mellander, 64, said Jeff Lachina asked him last year about the possibility of acquiring an interest in Precision Graphics. Mellander said the offer was appealing, providing a good transition for both himself and his staff.
"Two highly regarded brands in college publishing are coming together," he said. "It's a natural transition and a healthy one."
However, Mellander doesn't expect to be involved in the company going forward.
"My involvement will be as an interested observer. I'm retiring. I'll be available on an as-needed basis, with no specific responsibility at this point," he said.
Mellander, who has built a reputation as a developer of historic properties in downtown Champaign, will continue to own the Precision Graphics building, which dates from 1904 and once housed the Atkinson Monument Co. He said the local tourism bureau, Visit Champaign County, will continue to lease space in the building.
Mellander also owns the buildings on North Walnut Street that house Bacaro and Radio Maria, as well as the building at 17 Taylor St. that houses BLDD Architects.
He had been renovating the Metropolitan Building at Neil and Church streets before it was destroyed by fire in 2008.
That property eventually became the site of the Hyatt Place hotel, which is expected to open later this month.
Mellander also redeveloped the former Sports Publishing building on North Neil Street into Blue Line Station, which offers a mix of apartments and offices.
In terms of development, Mellander said, "I will continue to do what I'm doing — working on the Blue Line Station building, getting it up to full occupancy," he said.
But he doesn't intend to take on any new development projects.
"It's time for me to relax and enjoy what I have, take care of the buildings I have," he said.
Mellander said he also plans to continue to commute to Saugatuck, Mich., where he and his partner offer the Timber Bluff cottages for seasonal rental.