2020 Under 40: Tony Hill-McShepard, Hotcards
TONY HILL-MCSHEPARD, 28
Enterprise Sales Executive
Retail can be a thankless job. It’s a vertical that requires superhuman patience, quick thinking and product knowledge. Employees care for their customers—even when those customers aren’t always right—and often go out of their way to solve challenges with an unwavering smile. Such was the life of Tony Hill-McShepard, an MBA graduate from Cleveland State University, who spent a decade working for national athletic retailer Finish Line. The sales associate turned store manager needed a change, or, more specifically, a field that was ever-changing, diverse and brimming with fiery excitement. “I found Hotcards while looking for a new hire at Finish Line,” Hill-McShepard said. “The verbiage and wording attracted me to the position, as it seemed out of the ordinary and all about a cultural fit.” He came in as an account manager in March 2018 and trained for his current role, enterprise sales executive, over the next nine months. He now oversees more than 60 accounts, creating unique marketing campaigns that include a mix of print, promo, digital marketing and e-commerce platforms.
Why he loves his job: My team and my freedom—my freedom to be creative and come up with new ideas and try them out. My team is awesome and truly helps me grow as we create strategies and work on problems together, plus they make me laugh and smile, which is always a perk in the workplace.
Age roadblocks and advantages: It’s a challenge finding friends in the industry who are younger than me. As for advantages, I am able to relate to many of my customers, especially as they attempt to reach out to millennials since I am one.
His biggest career influence: Greg Schwartz, [Hotcard’s vice president of sales], and John Gadd [Hotcard’s president and CEO], both have been most influential on my career in the print and promo world. They have placed [their] faith and trust in me, [and have also] provided me all the tools necessary to be successful in the industry.
His most meaningful business accomplishment: My most meaningful accomplishment during my business career is closing out on over $750,000 in my first 12 months of sales in a brand new industry. This is a meaningful accomplishment because after 10 years in the retail sector, a switch to the print and marketing industry seemed like quite a jump, but my leadership at work, along with the support of great vendor partners, allowed me to actively sell great products and develop an ever-growing book of business that exceeded over $120,000 in a single month.
His differentiating factor: [For me, it’s] truly knowing my customers and knowing what they like and making it automatic for them. Once people form routines, it is very difficult to break them. I want to be a part of my clients’ routine, so they know when they need print and promo, it is easier to go to Tony than it would be for them to use anything else. It will become such a habit that the outside changing factors will have little to no impact on my customers’ mindset.
What he hopes to accomplish in the next year: In the next year, professionally, [I want to] grow my book of business by 20 percent year-over-year. Personally, I want to travel to 12 new places throughout the year.
Why he believes the future is bright: I think the print and promo industry will strive as the world is ever-changing. The new push to living healthier and not damaging the Earth will produce many new electronics, reusable products and digital print marketing, which will all need branding. These reusable products will be used over and over, and companies will truly want to make sure that their brand is there from the first use to the last.
How the industry can better recruit young talent: Young talent fit in great with the print and promotional products industry, and to capture their initial attention, you need to show the great companies leading the industries and their great workplaces. One thing that attracted me to the industry was the culture at Hotcards and how vibrant and creative the workplace was, as well as the endless growth opportunities.
What he does for fun: I enjoy traveling to check out some of my favorite musicians or to see a great show. I also enjoy spending time with my family. I have developed a passion for healthy eating and have begun working at Rid-All urban farm in Cleveland.
Read the complete list of Print+Promo Under 40 honorees here.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.