Each year, Print+Promo provides the definitive ranking of the Top 50 Distributors in the industry. As part of this issue, we feature exclusive interviews with the CEOs, presidents and owners of our top five companies. The full Print+Promo 2016 Top 50 Distributors list can be found here and in our November issue.
No. 1: InnerWorkings Inc.
Answers provided by Eric Belcher, CEO
What was your company’s biggest accomplishment over the last year?
Eric Belcher: We have become a major provider in the design, sourcing and installation of complete, high-end retail environments. Our solution is global and this category has become one of our largest. Retail is going through a massive change at the moment and we see ourselves at the cutting edge of assisting a company with how to be relevant in this new world.
We’ve also developed software that provides our clients with an intuitive and automated ordering, tracking and reporting tool for all of their physically branded marketing materials in every major country they conduct business in. It’s a big step forward from product-specific and language-specific tools that have been the standard until now.
What is your company’s top priority for 2017?
EB: To complete our transition from a domestic print management provider to a global marketing execution agency. We’re convinced there is a market need for a provider between distributors and manufacturers on one hand, and a creative agency on the other. We believe all corporations should have, in addition to their agency of record, an execution agency that manages everything from the value engineering to the sourcing to the logistics, installation and reporting of all physically branded marketing materials, using software to automate the process as much as possible at every step.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for distributors in our industry, and how can we work toward a solution?
EB: To think from the perspective of a marketing executive versus traditional industry lines, which are rooted in product types (e.g., print, direct mail, promo, packaging, etc.).
What is a great piece of advice you personally received? Did you have occasion to put it to use?
EB: I didn’t receive this advice personally, but I do appreciate Coach K’s concept of declaring “next play” after every play of a game, encouraging his players to not be distracted about what just transpired, whether the result was a positive outcome or a blown play, and instead focus entirely on what needs to be done moving forward. I try to apply that type of thinking to my daily life, and feel it has spared me some otherwise wasted or distracted moments.