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Craig McEwen, Published December 30 2008

Knight buys Cook Sign

Two long-standing Fargo communications companies, Knight and Cook Sign Co., have merged.

Knight, the parent company of 120-year-old Knight Printing Co., announced Monday that it has purchased Cook Sign Co., a 110-year-old sign manufacturer.

“This represents a huge milestone in our business community,” said Knight Chief Executive Officer Rich Slagle. “The merger of two of North Dakota’s longest-running companies is humbling.”

Cook Sign Co., with locations in Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks, will continue to operate under that name as a Knight subsidiary.

Dick Walstad, chairman of Cook Sign, said the deal will integrate more than 20 sales personnel across Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. With the merger, the two companies will employ more than 110 people.

“Blending these two organizations together opens up a whole new future of possibilities for our employees and the customers we serve,” Walstad said.

The Marcil Group, also based in Fargo, provided financing, advisory and real estate support for the transaction, said CEO Mike Marcil.

In August, The Marcil Group became part owner of Knight Printing and invested $3.5 million in the company.

“We will be investing over

$1 million in updating the Cook equipment and manufacturing processes,” Marcil said. “We anticipate increasing our staffing over the coming years and providing more regional investment in sales and customer service.”

The Marcil Group is not associated with businesses run by William C. Marcil, chairman and CEO of Forum Communications Co. The Marcil Group is a privately held company that acquires, develops and manages income-producing real estate and invests in other businesses.

Knight Printing Co. was founded in Fargo in 1888. Cook Sign has been serving the area since 1902, according to Forum archives.

Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502