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 Todd Pottebaum, MAS+, MASI, president of Quality Resource Group (QRG), Plymouth, Minn. Here, he talks about his professional ambitions, the cost of employee disengagement and our industry’s capacity for innovation.
Todd Pottebaum: Aug. 1 marked my 17th consecutive year with QRG, but in some respects I’ve been working here my entire life, albeit [with] time away to get my degree and gain a few years of experience with a Fortune 500 company. QRG is a second-generation family business, and I’m proud to say that I’ve spent most of my professional life learning from an industry great: Denny Pottebaum, my father. It feels like I’ve done it all. I’ve mowed the grass, worked in the warehouse, been the delivery guy, created marketing materials and [have] run a very successful territory. In recent years, my focus has changed to leadership and driving great experiences for our teams and clients as president of QRG.
How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
TP: My personal life is guided by the following mission statement: To grow and serve as a leader, live a balanced life, enrich the lives of others around me, create sustained comfort for our special needs child (plus two others) and make an enduring difference in this world. I’m nerdy enough to have made a three-page business plan on how to accomplish it. It’s a journey.
Setting goals for the business is accomplished through our executive leadership team, which meets quarterly to set strategic goals aligned with our one-year plan, three-year picture and BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of reaching 60 million in annual revenue by 2020. Goals are filtered to ensure that they are strategic and guided by our core values, competencies and passion. Last year, our teams accomplished over 800 unique priorities showcasing that we’re a stronger company today than we were yesterday. [QRG has] recently grown to 150 employees, [and] I expect we’ll have many more priorities tackled on our journey to “great” next year.
How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
TP: The economy should remain strong through most of 2019, at which point we may see a mild recession creep in.
The current strength of the economy means that talent is scarce. Businesses failing to recognize and engage employees are more at risk of losing top talent than [what] we’ve seen in many years.
Capital is accessible. Suppliers and distributors should be encouraged to make capital investments to ensure that they are poised with resources that create value and efficiency for when the economy eventually turns downward.
What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges the industry will face?
TP: We must find new and better ways to thrive in a world where technology and demographic shifts are occurring at breakneck speed. It’s important that industry leaders, networking groups and our associations place more emphasis on discovery, information sharing and idea incubation in the interest of evolving industry and business.
What keeps you up at night?
TP: Innovation and evolution of the industry. I’ve been honored as one of two distributor candidates for the PPAI board of directors election to take on this challenge. Please learn more at fb.me/ChooseTodd.
What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now? Why?
TP: We’ve been on a multiyear journey to enrich the careers of our team members, drive value to our clients and remove roadblocks to scale for growth. We’re accomplishing this by offering a crystal-clear vision for where we’re going and how we’re going to get there, and by creating consistency and simplicity in our workflows. Although this is a continual process, it’s an exciting development that makes us stronger and fit for the future.
What would people be surprised to learn about you—hobbies, special interests, etc.?
TP: I’m a self-improvement junkie. I have far too many deficiencies not to be. As [author] George Knox said, “When you cease to be better, you cease to be good.”
Related story: PPAI Announces 2018 Board Candidates