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Clara City's Impact Innovations sees acquisition by UK company as chance for growth

Submitted Seasonal decorations are among the products designed and marketed by Impact Innovations, headquartered n Clara City. 1 / 5
Submitted Impact Innovation is an important employer in the region doing business on a national and global scale. Employees of the Clara City facility, which serves as corporate headquarters and a distribution center, are shown. 2 / 5
Submitted Impact Innovations produces its static-cling window decorations, loyalty cards and other products at its facility in Maynard. Employees of the Maynard facility are shown here. 3 / 5
Submitted Seasonal decorations are among the products designed and marketed by Impact Innovations, headquartered n Clara City. 4 / 5
Submitted Seasonal decorations are among the products designed and marketed by Impact Innovations, headquartered n Clara City. 5 / 5

CLARA CITY — A company based in Clara City with a global reach is marking its 50th anniversary this month under new ownership.

In a transaction announced at the end of August, IG Design Group based in the United Kingdom acquired Impact Innovations. IG Design Group has a U.S. subsidiary based in Atlanta, Georgia, known as Design Group Americas.

"It is really a growth opportunity,'' said Impact Innovations CEO John Dammerman of the acquisition. He said IG Design is looking to invest and grow the business.

Impact Innovations has been employee-owned under an employee stock ownership plan for the past four years. Employees will receive a 100 percent buyout of their shares, which have added value over the four years.

Dammerman does not expect any significant changes in operations for local employees. He's hopeful of seeing new markets develop for the company's products as part of IG Design.

Originally founded by Curly Dammerman in 1968 to make magnetic door signs, Impact Innovations has grown to more than $150 million in annual sales. It has 51 employees at its company headquarters in Clara City, which is also the home to its design team and is its U.S. distribution center.

It has 34 employees in Maynard, where it produces static-cling window decorations, loyalty cards, and performs die-cutting and other custom work.

The Minnesota operations also include an 11-employee Minneapolis office.

Impact Innovations acquired a Memphis, Tennessee, gift wrap manufacturer with 72 employees in 2011. Impact Innovations has invested $15 million in its Memphis operations in recent years, according to Dammerman. The company also has a Hong Kong office.

IG Design is headquartered in London, England, and has a company in Wales serving the U.K. and a company based in the Netherlands serving continental Europe. It also has a joint venture with an Australian company.

Dammerman and Jane Hagert, vice president of marketing, are second-generation family members serving as officers in the company. Both will remain in their roles. They are optimistic that bringing the teams from Impact and IG Design together will grow the overall business.

Impact and IG Design produce a range of display products for retailers. Impact also produces a variety of consumer-oriented, seasonal decorations.

"Retailers are looking to consolidate vendors,'' Hagert said. "We have just become that much more important to our customers."

Impact Innovations serves some of the world's largest retailers, including Wal-Mart and Target.

IG Design serves large retailers including Target as well, but also has a strong business relationship with value retailers, such as dollar stores, which are opening new doors, according to Dammerman.

He noted that the acquisition will give Impact Innovations access to new European markets, especially for its decor products, in areas where IG Design currently sells gift packaging.

IG Design has a broader customer base, while Impact has had a broader product base, Hagert said. She said the companies complement one another.

She also noted that both companies share a very similar corporate culture. She believes that employees in the two companies will be able to connect both on a corporate and personal level as a result.

Company officials with IG Design were in Clara City and Maynard to meet employees and tour the facilities late last week. They are looking forward to making growth possible through the joined operations. "They are excited about it as we are,'' Dammerman said.

He said IG Design had initially inquired about acquiring Impact Innovations more than four years ago. The combination of Impact Innovations and Design Group Americas will represent over 50 percent of the worldwide business of IG Design, according to Dammerman.

Impact Innovations is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month, and will be hosting an open house Friday.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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