Thank you, Katie, and good morning, everyone.
We are very pleased with our first quarter performance.
Our team achieved a third consecutive quarter of improvement in the net sales trends since the height of the pandemic.
We also recorded several new wins in our agency and print segments that will drive long term growth. When combined with our disciplined approach to cost management and ongoing productivity improvements. We increase our adjusted EBITDA margin and drove higher cash flow as compared to the first quarter of 2020. This strong performance helped us continue to pay down debt to protect the health of our balance sheet. On slide 3, we show our competitive advantages that are further accelerating our position as a marketing solutions partner and creating more value for our clients. These advantages reflect our commitment to integrated marketing platform excellence, innovation, and culture and social purpose.
Our integrated marketing platform is unique and continues to resonate with clients as it helps them reduce the complexity of working with multiple agency partners and vendors. Increase efficiencies through process optimization and content production, and improved marketing spend effectiveness across all media channels, especially through our leading data analytics capabilities. We provide our clients with unmatched scale for on site services and expanded subject matter expertise in marketing strategies, such as customer insights and data analytics, creative solutions, media deployment, including industry leading printed distribution capabilities, and marketing management services.
Our dedicated client service teams make it easy to access our 24/7 always on global platform.
Our strategic transformation as a marketing solutions partner was validated again this week through our ranking as number 15th on the world's largest agency companies list, compiled annually by Ad Age.
We continue to strengthen and expand our marketing consulting, creative technology and data analytics capabilities, through continued to add talent, including experts in consumer research and engagement, further optimizing our sales structure to accelerate revenue growth, including expansion and new verticals like consumer technology and making ongoing investments in innovative solutions that drive clients value.
For example, we recently expanded our partnership with Package InSight, an organization that uses data and analytics to help better understand the drivers of consumer engagement and their purchasing journey.
Now, Quad clients have the ability to test brand creative concepts and quantitatively assess their impact and consumer interactions in a real life retail setting at our lab in Greenville, South Carolina.
We will help expand Package InSight’s current research in brand packaging to include digital in store direct marketing, and all brand channels.
Another way we innovate is through leading analytics capabilities that help our clients confidently allocate every marketing dollar, where they matter most.
For example, our award winning digital agency Rise Interactive, helps clients increase the effectiveness of their marketing spend through Connex, a proprietary technology that provides on demand cross channel insights, proactive intelligence, and automated optimization.
With the click of a button, clients can do campaign response in real time, and Rise team members can make immediate adjustments across channels to maximize budget allocations and business outcomes. Through this innovation, we were able to help a mature e-commerce retailer, using paid search to scale revenue at three times the rate of spend. Through our commitment to platform excellence and innovation, we now perform work for leading brands across foundational and high growth market verticals, as shown on slide four. These brands advice for the trust and loyalty they have built with their customers that place their trust in us to help solve their most urgent marketing challenges.
As a result, we have been able to expand our relationship into higher value and higher margin areas of their businesses. This is particularly important as these brands shift their efforts to merge from the pandemic from a position of strength. I would like to share some examples that illustrate how clients have come to rely on us, as their trusted marketing solutions partner.
The first example shown on slide five reinforces how we're able to help brands and marketers produced at the speed and scale required to compete effectively in today's fast changing market. A leading global pro company found itself in a situation, where it needed an entirely new approach to photo and video content for its broad array of product lines, due to an increase in demand as people started spending more time at home during the pandemic. The company wanted to capitalize on the market shift to comfort clothing, not only to meet increased demand from existing customers, but also to reach new customers at a time when they were seeing a 5x increase in online search traffic. The company constantly turned to Quad, knowing our integrated marketing platform has the necessary depth and breadth of talent, creative vision and flexible execution to fulfill its needs. We perform against the highly truncated timeline that included capturing hundreds of new images and video content for four different brands in just 25 days. Due to the resounding success of our work, we were able to renew an existing agreement for related services, and are now in position to expand the scope of our agency services with this high growth well known brand.
The second example, I'd like to share with you today, illustrates how we have become a trusted partner to retailers, both online and offline, to help carry out their most important strategic initiatives. In the wake of the pandemic, this includes initiatives by brick-and-mortar retailers to engage customers through experiences.
As shown on slide six, a large national retailer, turned to us to execute it to launch for a new high profile beauty shopping experience. A store within a store concept featuring dozens of premier beauty brands, all of which needed their vision represented consistently and on brand within a dedicated space. The retailer was familiar with Quad's ability to manage complexity, and leverage our integrated marketing platform to deliver hundreds of thousands of high quality and store signs and displays quickly.
As our client expands this critical strategic effort across the US, we expect to grow our relationship, helping it to refine its vision for the experience and produce assets for execution among other areas of opportunity. An ancillary benefit of this level of trust from this leading retailer is we now have direct relationships with the beauty brands involved in the program, and are actively working to expand our relationships with each of them.
In fact, several brands already have engaged us for a variety of marketing solutions, including strategy, creative, and digital services, and direct mail production. On slide seven, we circle back to commitment to culture and social purpose, a commitment that goes back to our company's founding 50 years ago.
Our strong culture and values include an enduring focus on social and environmental matters, and the benefits that this focus brings to the company and the communities we serve.
For example, we have always focused on reducing environmental impact of our business operations, including significant efforts to improve the energy efficiency of our manufacturing operations.
Our onboarding work recently garnered a Wisconsin Focus on energy Excellence Award for driving down carbon emissions through energy saving upgrades to facilities and operations.
In addition, at this time of heightened awareness about social issues, we have elevated our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, not only because it is the right thing to do, but it is also a business imperative that we ensure we attract and retain the talent we need to successfully compete and grow. In 2020, we launched the Learning and Development Program for employees as part of a more comprehensive and sustainable DEI strategy.
We also expanded our employee-led Business Resource Groups.
As we look to the future, we're focused on further operationalizing diversity, equity, inclusion into everything we do a Quad, as well as across the marketing advertising industries as a whole.
For example, Quad and my family's Foundation, the Windhover Foundation, are making a three-year $1 million commitment to expand the BrandLab to the Milwaukee community. Through disinvestment, we will introduce local students from diverse ethnic and socio economic backgrounds, to career opportunities in advertising and marketing and generate jobs. Rise Interactive, our digital agency just announced its partnership in a new strategic effort to bring more diverse talent to Chicago's texting. Rise will lead the charge for a pro bono digital marketing campaign for this important effort called Destination 312.
Before I turn the call over to Dave, I want to thank our employees for their continued hard work and dedication.
You've been resilient in the face of ongoing and unprecedented challenges and thank you for being there for each other and managing through disruption in its many forms to continue to serve our clients well.
As the economy continues to this recovery, Quad will remain nimble so that we can adapt to changes in the demand landscape.
We are confident in our team, our strategy, and our future as a marketing solutions partner to our clients. With that, I'll now turn the call over to Dave.