Women in Print and Promo: Linda Martinelli, Proforma Graphic Printsource
Proforma Graphic Printsource, Corona, Calif.
Years of experience: 47
How she got her start: My dad owned a printing company, and he had asked me to help him with some accounting issues. I told him I really didn’t want to, as I was a police officer at the time, and he told me I probably couldn’t do it anyway. That was a challenge I could not refuse. So, I basically got into this business by accident, as many of us do.
After clearing up his accounting, I went into sales. I began to make more money selling than as a police officer. After having my first child, I realized that selling was more flexible for raising a family, so I stayed on and left the police department.
What she loves most about the industry: I love that every day of my life I get to do something new. I learn new things, and I have new things to offer and new ways to help my clients. It boggles my mind that every day I get some request that I have never done before, and that’s crazy after all these years. But it always gives me a new challenge and the satisfaction of success when I can accomplish it.
An average day: What I think I am going to do each day and what I end up doing may be very different. I manage my team of five customer service professionals, and handle client requests for products, ideas, virtuals and samples. I proactively create promotions for clients with new and interesting products. I check all of the payables, receivables and finalize all billings. I interact with clients all day, whether in person, on the phone or by email. I am involved in every aspect of the business.
When I was selling print and office supplies, promo was a natural addition. After 17 years, the company was sold and I took my office supplies and promo to another company. I became very frustrated with the “corporate” way of selling, where I had to go through so much red tape to get anything done. I saw Proforma on the cover of a magazine as a startup company and joined immediately. I wanted a way to take care of my clients in the way they needed and wanted to be taken care of. I opened in 1998 and never looked back. We are full service to our clients: print, promo, e-commerce solutions, signs, mailing, warehousing and distribution.
Her proudest career achievements: I have been awarded Franchise of the Year, ASI’s Top 10 Women to Watch and I have been in the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America a number of times. But I think I am most proud to have been the first woman with Proforma to achieve $1 million in sales and the first woman in the Multi-Million Dollar Club, as well. I was Proforma’s first woman Owner Advisory Council president and the first to be a female development coach. There are so many women in Proforma now reaching these pinnacles, and it is very exciting. I’m also proud to have been able to mentor so many in our industry. It is very rewarding.
On working in a traditionally male-dominated industry: I have never seen being a woman as an obstacle. I became a police officer at a time there were almost no women officers. I became the first female salesperson in my first job after being told how I would fail at it, as it was not a woman’s position. I ended up exceeding the sales of all of the men. When I joined Proforma, all of the Million Dollar Club owners were men.
Her job advice to women: I always say that I have ink in my blood. Print is here to stay, which is great for job security. There are no limits to what you can sell, to [whom] you can sell and the income you can make. It is all about obtaining the knowledge to understand what you can do for your clients. The rest is about taking such good care of them that they never want to go elsewhere. It is a flexible career—it is always changing and it is rewarding.
Who she turns to for career advice: I rely on my great print and promotional suppliers for their best expertise in the type of print they produce, such as financial documents, labels, commercial and digital. They are the subject matter experts and I call on them often. I learn as I go, but these people have that extra knowledge that gives me the ability to get my clients what they need.
When she’s off the clock: My husband is a forensic criminologist. We own Martinelli and Associates, which is his primary job working as a police practices expert, trainer and media consultant. Under that umbrella, we own two firearms schools, teaching civilians to shoot and handle firearms of all types safely.
We also provide “Response to Active Shooter” classes for corporations who want to empower their employees to use the best strategies in the event of workplace violence or an active shooter scenario. This is something I am very passionate about.
For my hobby, I genetically create bucking bulls for competition. I have 23 bulls in Oklahoma with a wonderful trainer. My bulls compete at the two-year-old level, in which my bull Ringo Kid won the world championship this last year. After that, they go on to bull and rider competitions, and I have one in the Professional Bull Riders with the world class cowboys right now. It is a great sport, American as apple pie, patriotic and filled with wonderful people.
And lastly, I am a total travel bug. I love to get out and see the world every minute I can. We have four adult children who I am very close to and we travel with them when we can. We take every opportunity to go on new adventures. All of these passions also have brought me new business as well, so all of life really is a circle. You are likely to find me in Puerto Vallarta or somewhere tropical with turquoise water.
(The following profile appeared in Print+Promo’s “These Women Mean Business” cover story in the May 2017 issue.)