“What I Know Now“
Back from the Edge of Oblivion
WOW, what a ride it has been!
A new chapter began for us and Printing Images in September of 2008 when Bob Newman and I signed the paperwork to buy the 30 year old company from Tom Dolan and Frank Lopes, the original founders. The time leading up to that point was filled with lots of excitement and enthusiasm about a bright future for the company's customers, its employees and us as new owners.
That excitement was quickly tempered in the fall of 2008. It was shortly after the company changed hands that our country's economy went into a tailspin. We were nervous to say the least. We had just made this huge investment, and all of sudden we were faced with the possibility of losing our shirts before we even got started. Things got very serious very quickly. The first task at hand was to evaluate the situation and begin planning for the unknown consequences of the country's financial turmoil that would affect our company.
For the first 6 months, the transition was fairly uneventful, but Printing Images was not immune to the challenging economy everyone else was dealing with. Our clients began to alter their graphic art purchases and thought processes. However, after 30 years of good customer relations, thankfully our customer base remained loyal to us and to the Account Execs that had been helping them for years. Sales dropped but not to the extent many were experiencing and our customer base continued to represent the same names that Printing Images had serviced for years.
Making up lost ground is always challenging for any company and needless to say some changes had to be made. Bob and I, along with a select group of managers, attacked every leak in the company to come up with ways to cut expenses - from renegotiating leases and replacing suppliers, to turning the lights off when leaving the break room. We enlisted every employee, on every level, to help in this effort. Unfortunately, more had to be done, and in the summer of 2010 a company meeting was held. Bob and I put to a vote two choices: lay off 5 people or an across the board pay cut for every employee, including ourselves. The vote was unanimous: go with the pay cut. No one wanted to see a fellow employee out of work. This was the turning point for us. This solidarity is what has allowed Printing Images to continue to thrive in the challenging and ever changing world of printing and to weather the ongoing slow economic recovery.
We would be remiss not to mention our vendors and suppliers. In 2009, Bob and I went on a tour visiting our paper vendors, bindery partners, prepress materials suppliers and anyone else we counted on for day-to-day operations. The plan was to share our current financial status with them and let them know that we would be counting on them to work with us through what we expected to be a pending difficult cash flow situation, but with their support, and the commitment from our staff, we could get through this. And we did! Today we have formidable alliances with those who stuck with us and we will forever be grateful for their belief in us and our promise not to let them down.
We are proud to say that no employee was laid off, that we have survived challenging sales margins, and that, moving forward, we have come to have a stronger belief in the importance of working with our customers to build confidence, our employees to build trust, and with our vendors to build credibility. We have loyal customers who believe in us and continue to support us through thick and thin. The partnership we have with our vendors and suppliers is stronger than ever. It is our belief that as the economy continues to loosen and confidence builds in the marketplace, that Printing Images will be a shining star in the print and communications world for many years to come.
Through it all, we have learned that shared sacrifices build friendship, loyalty, and partnerships that last a lifetime. Business is business but people should always come first. Stand by your beliefs and follow your moral compass, it will always lead you in the right direction.