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Meet Michelle Leissner of H&H Graphics in Vernon Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Leissner.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I began my career as a CPA working in Audit for the Chicago office of Price Waterhouse. After leaving PW, I spent many years in increasingly bigger roles in accounting and finance for several public and private companies. I was disheartened by the things I saw in Corporate America. The emphasis on profit over people took its toll and I no longer enjoyed what I was doing. I knew I wanted to own my own company, and get results while still taking care of my employees.

As I looked for a company to buy, my father suggested I take a look at my Uncle’s printing business. My Uncle and his twin brother were 72 years old at the time, not in good health, and needed a succession strategy. I told my father I wasn’t interested, but I would meet with my Uncle to see if I could help them with their succession plan.

After spending a day at H&H Graphics, I knew it was the company I wanted to own. I saw the opportunity to take a niche printing company and capitalize on its unique capabilities by marketing it for different applications. I knew these solutions were badly needed for print in a digital age.

I purchased H&H Graphics with my cousin, Michael Helfand in 2008. Michael had been in the business for many years, and was a technical and operations expert. By combining his knowledge with my business skills, I felt we had a great partnership. Sadly, in 2011 Michael was diagnosed with brain cancer and he passed away in 2012.

It hasn’t been an easy road, but today we have an outstanding management team, fantastic employees and a strong foundation on which to build. We are proud to be a Certified WBE (Woman owned Business Enterprise) and the recipient of many printing awards, both in the Great Lakes Region and Nationally.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been a smooth road.

The recession hit in 2008 shortly after we bought the company, and no one saw it coming. We had two difficult years right off the bat.

During the economic recovery, as I mentioned in my previous response, I lost my partner, cousin and best friend to brain cancer. With no technical skills or background in printing, I was lost. Unfortunately, I trusted the wrong people in the process of rebuilding operationally, and it took a while to get the right team in place.

Please tell us about H&H Graphics.
H&H Graphics, LLC creates special effects for print and packaging. We specialize in applications such as glitter, textures, fragrances (scratch n’ sniff), scratch-off, spot gloss and matte UV, glow in the dark, metallics, pearls and many more. These special effects make your printed piece or package stand out and get noticed, and in today’s market that’s critical. When your piece stands out, consumers engage with it, your ROI increases and you get more out of your print spend.

We are able to create special effects on any flat surface no matter the substrate, including plastics, paper, wood, metal, decals and corrugated.

Applications for our services include retail packaging, displays and POP, marketing pieces, scratch-off promotions, games of chance, gift cards, membership and key cards, greeting cards, books, stationery, crafting materials and many others.

H&H Graphics is uniquely qualified for printing and packaging projects large and small. Many of our special effects are custom created in our Research and Development laboratory. Our experience, commitment to quality and technical knowledge are unmatched in the industry.

We are an award-winning family owned company and certified WBE (Women owned Business Enterprise) in business since 1978. In our 39 years in business, we have established an outstanding reputation for excellence both in craft and service.

Our experienced team is professional, creative and anxious to help our clients achieve amazing things with special effects. Consultation is free of charge and allows us to share our ideas and best practices to use special effects to enhance, but not overpower your project. We can help select the best application to further your branding and reach your target demographic, and make sure your design is technically sound.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Even as a young girl I had an interest in business. I remember playing “office” and “banker” with my best friend, Rachel. We would draw adding machine keyboards and pretend to compute, and create forms to fill in.

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