Home | WK Legacy

 

Before email and fax, we used the telephone and memorandums. Our Co-Founder, Mr. Harold Kraft, also did business with his plane! This is how the Ward/Kraft Legacy came about!

It was a Thursday in the early 80's and Mr. Kraft was in Ohio visiting the Fredericktown plant when he received a call from Mr. Tom Bilyeu with Tabco Business Forms, Inc. (a Terre Haute, Indiana distributor). Mr. Bilyeu was in need of an exact repeat of a sensitive product for his customer (a computer service bureau who was imprinting tax forms for a local municipality) who had been given erroneous information to imprint on the forms. By law, the forms had to be in the mail that weekend, and they needed them by Friday to have them processed and in the mail on time. Mr. Kraft consulted with his customer service and production teams and made the decision to immediately have the job produced and promptly (and personally) delivered it to Terre Haute the next morning on his flight back to Ward/Kraft's corporate headquarters in Kansas. From this point on, the relationship and legacy between Ward/Kraft and Tabco was etched in stone.

To show his thanks and appreciation, Mr. Bilyeu had a caricature of Mr. Kraft and his plane created, which is proudly displayed in all divisions of Ward/Kraft, Inc.

Around 25 years later, another opportunity came about for both Tabco and Ward/Kraft to work together to provide a timely delivery of product for one of Tabco's clients. Kris Bilyeu, Vice President, and one of Tom's two sons involved with Tabco, contacted Amy Clark, Office Manager of the Ward/Kraft Ohio Sales Team, about a laminated card and key fob combination that needed turned quickly. The order came in, which is normally a 6 week production time in the industry, and 10 production days later, the General Manager of Ward/Kraft's Commercial division, loaded up the Ward/Kraft plane and personally delivered more than 35,000 printed, laminated, die cut and trimmed cards. Tom Bilyeu, his two sons Brad and Kris, and grandson Mark, all had a hand in unloading the aircraft on the tarmac at the Terra Haute International Airport.

The end result was another very happy Tabco client and the satisfaction of the Tabco and Ward/Kraft teams knowing that, even after 25 years of changing environments in the industry, some things DO NOT change.The Ward/Kraft Legacy lives on.

 

History

Harold E. Kraft and the late J. W. “Jude” Ward founded the company in September of 1972. Both men were associated with Mid America Business Forms where they held positions as Vice President and President respectively. At the urging of several distributors, they left to form their own manufacturing firm with a commitment of sales volume from those distributors to launch Ward/Kraft. The following years to present day provide support of Ward/Kraft’s commitment to growth through market penetration combined with aggressive new product development.

Production began with 25 employees in a newly constructed 18,750 sq. ft. building in Ft. Scott, KS. Four years later the company had doubled in size. In September of 1980 a new 23,400 sq. ft. building was constructed in Fredericktown, Ohio to better serve our growing clientele in the East and North East regions. Early in 1983 the Kansas plant added 4500 sq. ft. of office area and 7,500 sq. ft. of warehouse space. Fall of 1984 saw 18,000 sq. ft of warehouse added to the Ohio division.

Originally, pressure sensitive labels used in conjunction with many of our products were purchased from outside suppliers. As the label market grew, Ward/Kraft realized the need for in-house label production to better serve our growing distributor family. This venture was driven by Roger E. Kraft (son of Harold Kraft) and in December of 1985, a 28,800 sq. ft. building was built adjacent to the Ft. Scott facility. As the demand for label product escalated a 32,400 sq. ft. operation was added to the Ohio plant. Total plant production space was now in excess of 150,000 sq. ft.

In November of 1989 Ward/Kraft completed construction of a 33,750 sq. ft. building in Ft. Scott to house our ShortRun division. This was created to meet our customer’s needs for smaller quantities with quick deliveries.

In November of 1990, Roger E. Kraft was appointed President. October of the following year brought the completion of an additional 28,800 sq. ft. dedicated to our new Machinery and Coating Division along with a 5,760 sq. ft. addition to the existing warehouse. The prime directive of this division is to provide support for existing divisions’ machinery needs, develop technology and design in-house proprietary adhesive coating applications. In April, 1992 the company acquired an 87,000 sq. ft. facility in Ft. Scott to house our new Long Run Division formerly known as the Stock Label Division. The development of our coating technology made Ward/Kraft a leader in the custom EDP market.

In 1996, Global Source Link was formed to provide billing and receivable accounting services to distributors.  Fall of 2000 saw the construction of a new facility to house this division.

WK Plastics was developed in 1999 to serve the Plastic Card industry.  WK Plastics produced predominantly traditional "credit card" size plastic cards for Identification, Promotional, Marketing and Pre-Paid Phone Card applications. Spot and process color offset printing was offered on a variety of thicknesses and was enhanced by a broad range of "off-line" support features including thermal imaging for personalization, magnetic striping & encoding and carrier affixing.

2004 saw the addition of a new division, Creative Technology Center, which was established to address the need for new technologies and products for the forms and labels marketplace, and to provide a continuing stream of innovative solutions for future growth.

February of 2006 Ward/Kraft announced a major move to improve customer care and efficiencies.  Internal studies had shown capacity within the multiple production units in Kansas could absorb the Ohio volume improving overall production efficiencies without affecting customer delivery demands.  Production volume within the Ohio facility was transferred to the Kansas operation, leaving the current sales and customer service staff operating in the Ohio facility. 

The Ohio Sales Team moved to a new office location in Mount Vernon, OH in April of 2006.  Ward/Kraft’s Ohio Sales Team, a vital part of Ward/Kraft’s success since 1980, is tasked with further account growth and all service related issues for distributors located in the east coast region.

In October of 2006 Ward/Kraft announced the addition of Digital and Commercial printed cards, otherwise known as composite cards to their current PVC card offering.  Responding to multiple requests for this application, WK’s product development team, The Genesis Effect conducted extensive research to provide the best technology available in the industry for this new product rollout.

Also in October of 2006, WK ShortRun and Creative Technology Center merged together to create Ward/Kraft’s newest division, WK Commercial.  WK Commercial houses an Indigo 3050 and a Ryobi 3404 DI capable of printing all distributor’s color needs.  The division offers several benefits including a variety of substrates, photo quality printing, quick turn-arounds, and quantities from 1 on up.  Offline bindery equipment was also added to support new product lines such as presentation folders, posters, multiple panel brochures and postcards, as well as the traditional short run checks and forms.

In January 2008, Roger Kraft appointed Mark Tucker to President over Ward/Kraft, Inc. A 28 year member of Ward/Kraft, Tucker had been a part of the management team since 1985, and most recently served as SR VP of Manufacturing. "The promotion of Tucker will give us depth, strength and stability. I look forward to our Bright Future," stated Kraft. 

 

Ward/Kraft Mission Statement

  • Energize our company with a "YES WE CAN" commitment to our customers and each other.
  • Seek out needs & respond with urgency and thoughtfulness.
  • Continually develop the systems, training & tools needed to fill changing member and customer needs.
  • Provide a wholesome, drug-free work environment with total commitment to integrity and high moral values