When the Stars Align
Sometimes in life, the stars seem to align perfectly. You spend your life working in an industry you enjoy. You work at different companies in different positions but all in the same field, in my case finance. Then one day you're given an opportunity to take all of your skills and experience and combine them into one position. Throughout my career, I have worked as an auditor, consultant or financial officer at and with small, medium, and large companies including regional printing and communications businesses and with insurance companies. Thus, when the chance to serve as the President and CEO of the largest printing trade association in the country presented itself I had to accept.
Printing Industries Association, Inc. of Southern California
The Printing Industries Association, Inc. of Southern California (PIASC) represents the interests of printers from Santa Barbara to South Orange County and from the Pacific Ocean to Las Vegas, Nevada. And a big part of PIASC's services includes health and business insurance. I have found nirvana, the perfect mix of finance, print, and insurance.
Running a trade association is a lot like running a printing business. There are many of the same challenges and rewards. The target customers for the association are printing companies located in Southern California. But, like those printing companies, the association needs to grow while working to listen to the needs of its customers and adapting its services to satisfy those needs.
Growing the Association
Many printers have expanded their services to meet the changing needs of their customers. Some printing companies have moved into large format, mailing, or marketing. In the coming months, you'll see the association move into other markets, also. The truth is the graphic communications industry includes more than just printing companies. I look at business much like Herb Zebrack, President of Lithographix. In an interview a few years ago Herb said, "I look at business like a hill. You either go up or you go down and the later don't appeal to me." Herb went on to say that the only way to go up is to come up with new projects and new ideas.
A Full-Service Insurance Agency
One idea we're going to pursue in the coming months includes encouraging current members to make use of the many services offered by PIASC. We want to grow our insurance services beyond health insurance. After all, we're a full-service insurance agency.
For example, many owners of printing companies know that the association offers health insurance but these same companies may not realize that there are also a number of businesses insurance options available from PIASC Insurance Services.
A great example of an insurance option is cyber liability insurance. Many printing companies are working with large amounts of personal information when they print variable data. The litigation resulting from a data breach could possibly put a printing company out of business.
The question is how do you get that information out to the industry? This is where you'll soon see additional changes in the association.
Our primary goal at the association is personalization. Not how printers understand personalization with variable data on a direct mail piece but personalization as "in person." We must serve our membership and to serve them best we must get out and listen to our current and potential members.
- What do they need?
- What are their pain points?
- What can we do to make their life easier?
For example, when I receive a phone call from a member, I ask if I can come and visit their company. I want to talk with the member face-to-face. That means so much more than just talking on the phone.
In addition to our short-term goals of increasing member's awareness of the products and services offered by PIASC, our future plans include the development of an awareness campaign for the public at large in regards to the industry itself.
Most people have no idea that print touches every part of their lives. Whether at work, school or during leisure time, from the time they get up in the morning to the time they go to bed at night print plays a vital role in their life.
This lack of awareness prevents younger individuals from being interested in a career in print. Thus our awareness campaign will include a strong push by the association to work with educational institutions, students, and companies to create internships. The industry needs creative minds and individuals interested in hi-tech. We need accountants and press operators. We need young people who enjoy a challenge and can see the opportunities available in the future.
There have been tough times in the past but the future is bright for the industry and for the association. Changes in technology have created a new world for the print enthusiast. There are those of us that can remember back to a time when letterpress was king but that gave way to offset and offset gave way to digital and now print is part of an integrated marketing approach that includes online possibilities. And soon mobile devices and augmented reality will lead print in yet another direction. Through all these changes PIASC has been, and will continue to be, an integral part of the graphic communications industry.