recycled paper greetings case study

Turnaround of a PE Backed,
Mid-Cap Company

Recycled Paper Greetings was purchased from its founders by a leading private equity firm, and one year later was careening toward covenant default. While highly profitable, the team had not achieved the aggressive growth assumed in the investment thesis. Further, same store sales were declining at the company’s two largest customers, and the pending economic crisis was about to eliminate some of the company’s most profitable boutique customers.


Strategic Action:

After meeting with all key customers and performing a deep-dive on the company’s history with the founders, stakeholders and associates, a turnaround plan was developed and executed, including:


  • Articulated and communicated the company’s vision for success, purpose, and core values.

  • Built a strategic plan that leveraged product superiority and consumer preference, and deployed the plan broadly and with transparency.

  • Used the plan to convince lenders to recapitalize the balance sheet and ease the company’s debt burden.

  • Built a world-class leadership team, identified vital keepers, and significantly upgraded talent in key roles throughout the company to transform a relatively sleepy culture to be more performance-based.

  • Restructured the company to reduce operating costs, eliminate low-value work, and focus resources on fewer, bigger ideas that drive profitable growth.

  • Used a priority model, resource scorecard, and milestone management process to align the entire organization and resources against the strategic plan, and measure progress.

  • Created and deployed a new-to-the-world consumer validation model for greeting cards that widened the consumer preference gap versus competition and increased same store sales double digits versus year ago.

  • Accelerated growth by building new distribution with retailers such as Walmart, CVS, Whole Foods, Tesco, and Safeway.

  • Reduced supply chain costs -12% by re-engineering the go-to-market and card replenishment process.

  • Revitalized the noteworthy cadre of exclusive external artist partners, and attracted several new partners including Mary Englebreit, The Argyle Sweater and The Onion.



  • Successfully navigated the sale of the company to American Greetings for a purchase price of 2x sales and 7.5x EBITDA.

  • Successfully teamed with key members of American Greetings leadership team and led integration of both RPG and PAPYRUS into a stand-alone company, exceeding synergy goals by 220%.

  • Exceeded EBITDA goal by 60%.

"I was very impressed with Jude's ability to assess the challenges the company was facing, develop a strategy and action plan and execute it in a timely manner."

 - Mary George, former Chairperson of the RPG Board and current CEO at Easton Hockey


 “His win-win approach to negotiating, his willingness to think out of the box and his sharp analytical mind played a critical role in positioning the company for acquisition by American Greetings…Jude is not only a leader, but he can pull his sleeves up and work side by side to assist in getting a deal done. Personally, he has an indomitable and positive spirit, coupled with a high sense of integrity and commitment to others.”

-  Camille Cleveland, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at A Place For Mom


 “Much of Jude’s success was the result of the strong team of leaders that he attracted to the company and his ability to lead with courage and transparency through challenging economic conditions.”

- Ed Stassen, CFO at Learning Resources