MICHAELA DODENHOF, 33
Customer Sales Representative
Pocket Folders Fast, Omaha, Neb.
Print has always been a part of Michaela Dodenhof’s life. From a young age, she and her siblings helped her dad, a veteran bindery and finishing expert, put printed pieces into envelopes—“stuffing parties,” as she affectionately called them. “Going to my dad’s work was so exciting, and I loved the atmosphere—that’s where it started,” Dodenhof recalled. When she turned 16, Dodenhof spent her summers collating school planners at her dad’s place of employment, Wright Printing. After completing high school, Dodenhof transitioned into a full-time role in the bindery department before branching out into administrative tasks. She worked as an assistant for another few years, but twinges of dissatisfaction persisted, so she learned about customer service and later enjoyed three years in human resources at QuadPackaging, formerly Specialty Finishing. She joined Wright’s Pocket Folders Fast division in March 2019 as a customer sales representative, using her wealth of knowledge for the benefit of other departments. According to her nominator, Dodenhof’s experience defies her age, and this “rising star” is able to seamlessly steer customers in the right direction on any kind of print project.
Why she loves her job: I love learning something new each day—sometimes multiple things in day.
Age roadblocks and advantages: At times I have felt my youth can be viewed as not having as much knowledge in an industry where time equals knowledge and skill. Many people in the industry have years and years under their belt; I was blessed to have my start in my teens.
Her biggest career influence: My dad, Marc Dodenhof, finishing operator at QuadPackaging, who introduced me to the print world; and Mardra Sikora, CEO of Pocket Folders Fast. Mardra gave me the opportunity to move into an assistant role so many years back.
Her most meaningful business accomplishment: The most meaningful accomplishment has been building relationships with customers, coworkers or vendors. Relationships teach different things in different ways and have helped form who I am today. Those relationships also open my eyes to the type of person I want to be. Each interaction is another chance to learn about myself and the person I’m interacting with.
Her differentiating factor: Personal connections. The world we live in allows us to do more and more through technology—making purchases online, checking an account, making changes to whatever it may be through an app. But, when issues arise (because technology will always have issues), people simply want a person to talk with, to feel heard and to feel a resolution to the issue; I know I do! I love the opportunity to talk with someone, make them feel heard and provide a resolution.
What she hopes to accomplish in the next year: In the next year, I would like to learn from my mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes during their work day, and I would like to know I’m not making the same ones over and over. In my personal life, I’d like to create more travel experiences and memories with my family.
Why she believes the future is bright: The world will always need tangible items to hold—folders to hold information at an event, invitations, cartons to hold products, signage for advertisement, etc. There are many creative people in the industry coming up with new and creative ways to market our capabilities and society’s need for these tangible items.
How the industry can better recruit young talent: At the time I didn’t realize it, but my introduction to print was exactly what got me excited about the industry—seeing it firsthand and getting to talk with someone who was in the industry.
What she does for fun: I enjoy spending time with my family. We go to the zoo, go on hikes and take trips to the park. When I’m not spending time with my family, I love to organize and redecorate, and I’m trying to teach myself how to sew.
Additional thoughts: Life gets so busy and rushed, and a good amount of time [is spent] with a screen in front of us. Find time to disconnect and enjoy being with those around you.