R. R. Donnelley & Sons, 1950
In 1882, Richard R. Donnelley, a veteran of the printing and publishing business in Chicago, started his own printing company, R. R. Donnelley & Sons. Under the leadership of his son Thomas, the company grew quickly during the first decades of the twentieth century, when it printed the Montgomery Ward and Sears catalogs and launched efforts such as Lakeside Classics. It continued to expand by winning contracts to print major national magazines such as
(introduced in 1927) and
(1936). By the mid-1930s, Donnelley employed about 1,800 men and 700 women at its plant on East Cermak Avenue. By the beginning of the 1960s, as the number one company in the commercial printing industry, R. R. Donnelley grossed about $150 million in annual sales and employed nearly 10,000 people. A Los Angeles division was opened in 1978. In 1993, after Sears canceled its catalog, Donnelley closed its large plant on the city's South Side. By the end of the 1990s, when it was moving into electronic publishing and was printing paper manuals for computer industry companies such as Microsoft, annual sales stood at over $5 billion. Donnelley, which operated more than 50 plants in the United States, Mexico, South America, the United Kingdom, Central Europe, and Asia, ranked as the world's third-largest commercial printer. Of its some 34,000 employees, about 2,500 worked in the Chicago area.