How did you get your start in the print industry?
My father worked in the print industry for most of his life. I studied chemistry in college and decided that I wanted to be a Dentist. When that plan didn’t work, my father suggested I work with him as a production manager trainee at Hub Offset in 1977. My father moved to estimating and trained me to be a production manager. Three years later I moved to House of Offset. I worked in customer service and then moved to sales in ‘82. In ‘93 I became sales manager of the company. I then worked for United Lithograph which acquired Chadis Regal Lithograph. In ‘98 Mail-Well bought United Lithograph which is now called Cenveo. In 2005, I left the company and joined Millennium Graphics in strictly a sales position which eventually (in 2007) led to my career at Universal Wilde.
What is the most critical component working on client’s print communications?
Understanding their requirements/needs of the clients. You need great communication with clients.
Is there a single project that sticks out in your mind as the most memorable?
The most complex and challenging project was a project I worked on through an agency for NIKE. It was a passport size saddle wire book with multiple gatefold foldouts. The success came from the work of the entire team but specifically from the bindery department’s efforts on the project. There were micro distances from panel to panel that had to compensate for crossovers, creep, crossover color control, and there were folding challenges related to creep and gatefolds.
What challenges did you face while helping your clients reach their target audience?
Today’s environment is on demand. With the creation of the iPhone, which is a wonderful tool, clients can think it is as easy as “hitting send”. Work is not that simple. The client has to decide how to target their audience and I help execute with the mechanics of what they are trying to produce. By bringing clients in and showing them what is involved, in terms of the method of producing a piece and the quality control that do not allow taking shortcuts, I am able to help show them that projects require more time than what is often expected. Unfortunately, you have to explain to your client that often there are not enough hours during the day to meet their deadlines. Many print buyers are also junior in their careers and it is my job to help them understand what’s involved in producing a quality custom piece.
How did UW fit into your print career?
I look at my time here as "Phase 2" of my career, roughly the last 13 years. Focused on my own sales rather than a management role.
Over the years how have you adapted to changing marketing trends?
You have to be knowledgeable about the full suite of services that you provide. You need to be flexible with your client’s needs. Particularly at a company like Universal Wilde which really does have a full suite of services.
What is different about the print industry today vs. when you started in the business?
One of the biggest differences is turnaround time. Technology helps to reduce this time. The volume for print has come down and differentiated to other channels. There has been a shift from project specific and in some cases client specific. Some have abandoned print, but then later have come back to it.
Today, technology has been incorporated into everything, including print. Do you see this as an opportunity for the industry moving forward?
It is not an opportunity it’s a requirement. Once you recognize that it is a requirement, then you can seek out those opportunities that may be out there.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in print?
You can’t sell print unless you have a foundation or understanding of the production process. This is due to the custom nature of what we do. Most successful people have somewhat of a production background.
What will you miss most about your career in the print industry?
The most important thing that I will miss is the people, both the client side and colleagues. The families that you get close to and know throughout the years.
What are you looking forward to most about your life ahead?
The freedom that retirement gives you. I enjoy physical activities such as small construction projects, chopping wood, and landscaping. I have a house in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, mountain climbing, and overall being involved in outdoor activities. The aspect of living without a schedule is what I’m looking forward to. I will enjoy the luxury of spending more time with family and friends.
Universal Wilde helps marketers achieve increased effectiveness by guiding them to data-driven, personalized communications solutions. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for more news and insights. Reach Ryan Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org