2018 Women in Print and Promo: Michelle Maynor, Interior Graphics & Printing
Interior Graphics & Printing, Fairbanks, Alaska
Years of Experience: 14
How she got her start: Before I started in printing, I managed a racetrack in Palmer. I had a background in marketing and did all the graphics and promotions for the track. When I moved to Fairbanks, I applied for a management position at a printing company and landed the job. They told me when I was hired that they were trying to sell the business. One year later, I was the owner.
Her proudest career achievements: My most favorite achievement at Interior Graphics & Printing (IGP) has been getting a Family Friendly Workplace award. It’s not the biggest or most prestigious award that I’ve gotten, but it makes me really proud, as a business owner, to be recognized for being a great place to work. I’m not IGP by myself—without my entire team being here and getting stuff done, it doesn’t work. Empowering my employees to do their best makes us the best.
On working in a traditionally male- dominated industry: Both of the businesses I’m in are male-dominated industries, so I’m used to being the black sheep. In printing, the thing that irritates me the most is when I go to trade shows and I’m passed over by salesmen because they don’t see me as a buyer. I buy the equipment I need not only because I need it and because I’ve done my research, but also because of the relationship and the trust I have with a salesperson. If you ask to speak to the man in charge of making the buying decisions, you won’t get business from me. I enjoy having fun with what I do, but I also deserve respect, and, sometimes, getting that has been a challenge.
Her job advice to women: Do it! I think women are particularly adept at this job because we tend to want to help others, we understand the issues our customers face. Printing isn’t about commodities, it’s about relationships and helping others succeed. But, on the flip side, don’t sell yourself short. Women do a great job, but sometimes have a hard time charging for their services. Make sure you are charging a fair price for what you do. That’s something I’ve struggled with in the past and I’m still working on.
Her industry mentors: I'm very fortunate to have been introduced to the PrintOwners List many years ago by a friendly competitor in town when I first got started. The advice I've received from the members of that list, which has since evolved to become the National Print Owners Association (NPOA), has been invaluable. I didn't grow up in the industry or even know anything about it when I jumped in. Having a world of experienced printers to get advice from and the conferences I've been able to attend have been the things that have helped keep my business afloat. As far as mentors go, there are so many: Paula Fargo, Curry Printing; Charlene Sims, The Masters Press; Scott Cappel, Sorrento Mesa Printing; the late Mike Stevens, Marking Ideas for Printers; Craig Dellinger, New Haven Print; Jeff Daghir, MPS Printing; as well as some locals in my community: Travis Lewis, Dateline Digital Printing; Phil Schmidt, Great Originals; Chuck Lincoln, Advanced Printing; and Wayne Clark, Graphic North. There are so many folks I could thank because I've needed so much help along the way. This is by no means a complete list.
Her biggest lesson learned: The most important thing I've learned is to keep learning. Keep asking questions and keep getting better. There are so many things print owners are juggling—accounting, human resources, marketing, staying on top of new trends and equipment, and the list goes on. Keep learning better practices and keep teaching those to your staff. They want to help you, so teach them how to help you. The more your staff knows, the more you can do. (Another thing I'm struggling with, but getting better at.) We joke at the office that we need to learn something new every day. And we do.
How she maintains a work/life balance: This is one area where I don’t have much advice! I don’t have much balance right now—I work way too much. I’m trying to work on making sure my team has clear practices and policies in place so they are empowered to make the right decisions and get things done. In addition to owning and operating IGP, I am the operations manager for our family business, Alaska Raceway Park, which is a five-hour commute from my base office. We have established networks, so I can work remotely while I’m there in the summer, and I try to balance work between printing and racing. I am fortunate to have a very understanding husband who puts up with all my busy-ness. I have a 20-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son, and I try to make sure I have as much “mom time” with them as I can, as well as fit in some time for me occasionally. I’m trying to watch what I eat and exercise when I can. I always say, “You can’t rule the world if you don’t take care of you.” Your “world” is whatever you make it; mine just is pretty full of stuff. But if I’m not running optimally, I can’t take care of all the other things I need to do—whether it’s running my shop, the racetrack or simply spending time with my kids.