2019 Women in Print and Promo: Carrie Siconolfi, Print Solutions Plus
President, Print Solutions Plus, Vineland, N.J.
How she got her start: I started working for my parents’ printing distributorship while in high school. (I’m the third generation of our family in the print business.) During college, I got involved in music projects and subsequently started working full time as a singer—music was my first passion. I worked on the road for several years, touring with various bands. My dad, Don Fireoved, got ill, and I returned to my parents’ business [in 1994] to help out. Weeks after my return, he passed away and I had to take over the sales operations of the company, as he was responsible for all outside sales. When my dad died, it was very hard for my mother to assume a leadership role in the business; I don’t think her heart was in it, and she just wasn’t putting a lot of time into it. I, on the other hand, spent many nights in the office until 3 a.m. just to figure things out after he died. It was really important to me to not let down our customers—some accounts had been obtained by my grandfather, so maintaining those good relationships was a big deal. … I started attending trade shows whenever possible. A couple of years went by, and especially after I obtained a couple of print management accounts, it was clear that my vision for the future of the company differed from my mother’s, and we agreed that it was time for me to transition the company to a new beginning. That’s how Print Solutions Plus started in 1998. The company had outgrown its current location, so we built a 7,500-square-foot building with warehouse space and invested in enterprise software with e-commerce capabilities.
What she does: As CEO of the company, I wear many hats: working on bids, handling financial and compliance-related matters, meeting with clients, working on sales and marketing programs and, every now and then, operating a forklift.
What brings her joy professionally and personally: I like solving customers’ problems. When we can figure something out for them, that’s a really good feeling. No day is ever the same in this business, so that keeps things interesting. I’m an optimist. Every day, I feel is a chance for something great to happen, so that’s how I like to be.
Her proudest career achievement: My company received a PEAK Award in 2006 from the Print Service Distribution Association (PSDA) for a variably imaged sign project we produced for a casino client. Solving our customer’s pain was a good thing. Getting recognized by our industry was a great thing!
On working in a traditionally male-dominated industry: Personally, what I’ve found within our industry is there’s a lot of very smart people, men and women alike, who have generously shared their expertise, because I’ve picked many a brain at the bar after hours at trade shows.
In addition, I think that becoming a Certified Women’s Business Enterprise in our state was a good move; having that certification helped me get my foot in the door of many larger accounts.
Her job advice to women: This industry is constantly evolving, so if you like to sell, the field is full of opportunities. I think it’s important to continue to learn about new technologies and trends, so you can become a knowledgeable and trusted partner for your clients. Also, get involved in print and promotional trade associations and attend meetings whenever possible, because what you take away from the meetings—from the networking to the new ideas—is invaluable.
Who she turns to for career advice: My dad would take me with him on sales calls. He was so good at interacting with his customers; it just didn’t seem like he was selling at all ... they trusted him and, more importantly, they liked him. It was those moments with him I learned what I believe is the most important thing in business—the power of relationship building.
Her upcoming goals: I created a growth plan for the company last year to increase annual sales by 30 percent over the next three years. To date, we are on track. We’re working hard at it.
As far as personal accomplishments, making the time to take a vacation this year [is a goal]. I don’t take a lot of time off, so making a point to set aside some ‘away time’ is very important.
How she maintains a work/life balance: When you own a business, it’s on your mind 24/7 and you can be up all night sometimes fretting over issues, and, sometimes, you have those days that are just terrible. They’re just going to happen. It’s what you do when you get home that matters. I’ll just say to myself “you’ll figure it out,” and have learned to let it go when I get home. Some good music and a glass of wine help, too.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.