As part of Print+Promo’s ongoing feature, Executive Perspectives, we get to know leading professionals in the print and promotional industry. This month, we interviewed Adam McNeill, president of CE Printed Products Inc., Carol Stream, Ill. Here, he talks about his new role, the rewards of collaboration and how his company is pushing the envelope.
How did you first get started in this industry, and what path did you take to land in your current role?
Adam McNeill: I began my career at a newspaper publishing company working in [its] creative services division. I was preparing files for print, creating ads and taking photos for [its] flagship daily newspaper. After my time at the publishing company, I worked for a marketing agency in Chicago, and then I joined Bob Ohr and the CE Printed Products Inc. team. My family has worked in the envelope industry for many generations, and when Bob contacted me about a job at CE, I jumped at the opportunity. I guess I’d have to say that it’s in my blood. Both my brother and I work for envelope manufacturers (me at CE and him at another shop), which make us fourth generation in the industry. I grew up immersed in the industry, and I’m not surprised I landed with CE in 2005. Once at CE, [I knew] my goal was to become an executive in the organization. I thought there was a place for me here, and I worked hard to support and grow the business, and was recently named president by CE’s board of directors.
How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
AM: I strive to work hard and surround myself with smart, motivated people. A strong team can help provide opportunities for all our employees and clients. Our team motivates and pushes me daily, and I appreciate that. We have great people with great ideas, and I challenge myself to listen, evaluate and implement the best practices that are developed by our employees. Our management team has a formal, ongoing process of goal setting, evaluating and prioritizing. We have a mix of company initiatives and key performance data that make up the company and individual manager goals. I also meet regularly with executives and thought leaders inside and outside our industry, so I can learn from them and service our clients and employees better.
How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
AM: We continue to see consolidation and changes within our customer base and a shift in needs from our clients in reaction to the changing needs of their clients. We are also experiencing pricing pressure as our clients work to compete with online retailers. However, in a changing landscape, we’ve had an opportunity to expand our envelope and stationery offering. We’ve used the pressures of a changing industry to evaluate what we’re doing and align ourselves with our clients’ needs.
What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges the industry will face?
AM: As our industry continues to mature, we need to find young talent that will get to the new buyers. As a distribution channel, we need to offer more for our shared (trade printer/distributor) end-user clients so we can remain relevant and provide the products and services that help us stand out among other sales organizations. We will continue to see technology needs increase to streamline ordering and production, and that pressure will not go away, so we will need to continue to react to that.
What keeps you up at night?
AM: I’m up at night thinking about the many opportunities available to CE and our clients. I want to continue to grow our business through expanded product and service offerings. We are investing in new equipment to more efficiently service our clients’ needs and streamline our internal workflow. We have seen significant growth in our manufacturing division, and we continue to invest in that area. I focus on what we can build and how we can continue to improve, and that’s what keeps me up at night.
What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now? Why?
AM: We continue to reinvent ourselves and add more products and services to support our clients. When I hear a client say, “I didn’t know you did that,” I get excited knowing we can continue to service and grow with them. The CE team has adapted well to the changes in the market, and it’s that flexibility that will really help [us] as we move forward. The collaboration with our clients will allow us to continue to grow in a very competitive field. In the end, the short answer is our people, and their commitment to finding solutions—whether that’s a new service, product or process—is what makes us cutting edge.
What would people be surprised to learn about you—hobbies, special interests, etc.?
AM: I love live music, photography and spending time with my family. I live in Chicago and spend much of my free time exploring the neighborhoods, restaurants and parks. I also enjoy mountain biking, skiing and hiking when I’m not in the city.