The last dinosaur in the forest ate the best! I graduated from the New York School of Printing Vocational High School in 1967. Those of us who were not drafted to fight in the Vietnam War became pressmen. In 1969, I ran a press in a business-forms plant. We were the largest non-direct forms manufacturer in the country at 14 million per year. We ran only snap-out and continuous custom forms. In 1972, we became high tech and merged with a pressure-sensitive label plant. I had to learn the technical world of labels. At that time, “high tech” was a label blown on a single-part continuous form, now known as an integrated label. In 1981, I became a plant representative. Vanguard Direct was my largest distributor. I had to learn to sell what I knew.
And now for my 30-year journey at Vanguard. I joined Vanguard Direct in 1988 and was a vendor for seven years prior. I sold VGD snaps, continuous forms, and labels, and the terms “cross-selling” and “up-selling” were not in my vocabulary. I only sold what my plant was able to provide. My idea of being a solutions provider was getting the order delivered on time. I have an iPhone with over 100 apps. When my Outlook is down, I am depressed. I sell technology, promo, online ordering systems, creative design, social media, and direct mail (and printing, too). I never refer to VGD as a printing company. I am a solutions provider. Not only do I sell what I don’t produce, I sell whatever my clients need to improve the work flow in their organizations. I am on Twitter and LinkedIn. I only see my five grandchildren’s pictures on Facebook. Yes, a 62-year-old printer can make the transition. I can’t take a plant tour, however, without thinking back to the old days of the multipart snap-out form and the smell of ink.
So what’s the moral to this story? I worked at the largest union snap-out forms manufacturer in the country, and where is it today? It is extinct, because it was incapable of change! In this industry, you have to be flexible and willing to change your offerings to what your clients are asking for. It doesn’t take a scientist to make these changes, either––just a driven, hardworking mentality that is open to transition.
So the question is: What are you doing today that you won’t be doing in five years?
Author: Joe Corbo