As part of Print+Promo’s ongoing feature, Executive Perspectives, we get to know a leading professional in the print and promotional industry. This month, we talked to Tim Urness, president of Royal, Brooklyn Park, Minn. Here, Urness opened up about the effects of a shrinking marketplace and how his company is planning for the future.
How did you first get started in this industry, and what path did you take to land in your current role?
Tim Urness: Royal is a family-run business and was founded by my dad, Ron Urness. While going to college, I held a part-time job delivering pizzas, oftentimes, until close. My dad didn’t like the idea of me working late nights, so he offered me a part-time job in the plate room. I had no plans of making a career at Royal, but over the next several years, I found myself working in other departments and on special projects, including creating the first job-costing program at Royal. I have been working at Royal ever since.
How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
TU: In order to succeed in this business today, I think the two most important aspects of the business to set goals for are sales growth and increased productivity. Each year, we, as a team, create and implement plans in both areas that set us up to be successful in both areas. Each year brings unique challenges, like blocks of business lost due to changing technology and acquisitions at the distributor level. We track both areas on a continual basis and work hard to achieve our goals.
How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
TU: Technology continues to eat away at print from all sides, it seems. The [recovery] phase we have been in with our economy over the past eight years or so has not had enough growth to offset the effect technology has had on print. So, this economy has us independent printers fighting for a bigger share of a shrinking market. Most of the products we produce are consumable print products, so a faster-growing economy means more of the products we produce are being used on a daily basis.
What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges the industry will face?
TU: Outside of technology affecting our industry, I think the biggest challenge we have, as an independent printer, is dealing with the change happening to our traditional distributor customer base. As traditional business forms as a market has declined, our distributors have worked hard to grow their businesses by offering new products and services that are oftentimes totally unrelated to what we produce (e.g., ad specialties, data management, website development, etc.). This leaves us competing with other unrelated companies for customers’ time and attention. This, along with the aging sales teams of many of our distributors, makes our job as an independent printer even more difficult, as we need to spend a lot more time and resources prospecting for new business.
What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now? Why?
TU: In order to give our company an opportunity for growth long-term, we started up a flexo print division to print labels and other related products. After much planning and research, we decided to purchase brand new state-of-the-art equipment that gives us a market advantage in terms of productivity and print quality. We have had a lot of success in growing this business, and it is a great way to diversify our product line away from the declining traditional forms market. This change has breathed new life into our company and it sets Royal up to be successful long into the future.
What would people be surprised to learn about you—hobbies, special interests, etc.?
TU: My family is the most important aspect of my life. My wife and I have two wonderful kids (Madelyn, 15, and Alex, 12), who are very active in school and sports. So, we spend a lot of time at soccer fields and in hockey rinks year-round, and absolutely love watching them grow up. We both realize that this time in our lives will go by very fast and are focused on being the best parents we can be for both of them before they move along with their lives. We also spend a lot of time with our family and friends at our lake place in Western Wisconsin to take advantage of the short summers here in Minnesota. Personally, I love fishing and just being close to the water.