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 Ross Barker, CEO and owner of e-Quantum Inc., Reno, Nev. Here, he talks about the pace of modern business, the importance of adapting and his desire to learn.
Ross Barker: In the late 1970s, Moore Business Forms captured my print distributorship [Barker Business Systems’] largest account with its new “automated forms management system.” I hired a programmer to design our own forms management program, and then decided to make it a service bureau for other distributors as well. That being successful, in 1984, we introduced our Quantum distributor management system. That was the beginning of e-Quantum Inc., [which] presently serves roughly 500 distributors in the U.S., Canada and Australia with our Microsoft Windows distributor management system and accompanying e-commerce system for office consumables.
How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
RB: My personal goal is to try to be uplifting to others around me each day and look for opportunities to assist others where I can. Also, never stop learning. Professionally, our management team focuses on improvements to client services and support, enhancements to our software and new products we can offer to benefit our clients. We have short-term goals to satisfy near-term client requests and project scheduling for more major enhancements and new system versions. Then, we have a blue-sky list of potential future projects.
How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
RB: In my opinion, the economy has [rebounded] fairly well. Our traditional industry print products continue to be impacted by technology, but, conversely, technology has brought new print opportunities, particularly in marketing and packaging. Leading distributors continue to find growth opportunities in new products and services. e-Quantum has been fortunate that we have not really been adversely impacted by the economic events of the
What do you expect to be some of the biggest changes or challenges the industry will face?
RB: With respect to our distributor clients, they will be required to provide an increasingly sophisticated array of technology, products, services and logistics to maintain and increase their value to the marketplace. The acquisition of comparable technology by manufacturers and end-users will challenge our industry to provide even greater service and value to clients. Also, the current trend of industry consolidation and mergers will continue. More strategic partnerships will be formed by manufacturers, distributors and their clients to better serve the marketplace with a wider variety of products, services and technology.
With respect to e-Quantum, we have to transition with major trends, such as cloud computing, expanded use of mobile devices, modern payment systems, subscription software, big data transparency and new computing technologies; there is no end to the technological innovation with which we will have to contend.
What keeps you up at night?
RB: A few years back, I read a Wall Street Journal interview with a Walmart vice president regarding their intention to begin marketing high-end electronic equipment. “What is your goal?” asked the interviewer. “To replace Best Buy as the No. 1 company in that market within three years,” was the response. If I were the CEO of Best Buy, that certainly would have caused insomnia. Black-swan events, like a major company suddenly targeting our marketplace or paradigm-changing hardware or software technology that negatively impacts us, are always background thoughts. In technology, the key imperative is adapt, adapt, adapt.
What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now? Why?
RB: We are designing the next generation of our e-Quantum software to remain vital and competitive in our industry environment of the future.
What would people be surprised to learn about you—hobbies, special interests, etc.?
RB: I’m active in my Catholic parish. Presently, I’m president of the board of trustees of Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada that assists over 500,000 persons annually. I also play tennis and golf, and enjoy working out.