Under 40: Richie Muniak, I.D. Images LLC
Richie Muniak, 38
Director of Administration
I.D. Images LLC, Brunswick, Ohio
A University of Akron graduate, Richie Muniak immediately put his computer engineering degree to good use, joining the information technology consulting industry. I.D. Images LLC, a pressure-sensitive label converter, happened to be one of his company’s biggest clients. Witnessing the supplier’s growth firsthand was enough to convince the self-proclaimed “computer nerd” to seek employment with I.D. Images. Muniak earned several promotions over his 14-year career to take him to the executive role he holds today. His passion for technology has been a bright spot in an industry unfairly dismissed by outsiders as being slow to adapt.
“During my entire tenure here, whenever [I.D. Images] gets any customer request that might be solved with technology, I have spent the resources to accomplish the request without any questions,” he explained. “A customer wants their information specially formatted and FTP to their site nightly? Done. A customer wants a special API section to grab their pricing to work with their website? Done. Want to talk about blockchain technology and what we are doing for it? Done.”
Why he loves the industry: I love the fact that we are that important little piece of the supply chain. The perception is that labels are these throwaway simple things that children love to play with, but those same labels are an integral part of the process. Those little labels, if missing, can cause entire lines to stop, [presenting] quite the problem. We supply those essential gears that keep the economy moving.
The other aspect I love about what we do is we are the genesis of adventure. I love to look at our unprinted products and just imagine what will be put on them [and] where that little label will travel. I will know step one of the adventure for our products, and sometimes I like to imag[ine that] I am running back into some of our products on step 100.
Age roadblocks and advantages: For the last 12 years, I have been the youngest member of our management and executive team. The biggest challenge is building that relationship and cultural connection with people of different ages. In human resources, we always say that the three things a successful employee needs is the skills to do the job, the want to do the job and to be able to fit in the culture of the job. Even a difference of seven to eight years is enough of a divide to make those common bonding points hard to find.
As for the advantage, the No. 1 thing that I feel we have in age is risk-taking. It feels like as people age, their risk aversion grows, as they are more and more comfortable with how things are going. As my age counter ticks up, I have to keep reminding myself to “go big or go home.”
His biggest career influence: My two biggest influencers are Brian Gale, president of I.D. Images LLC, and Ken Meinhardt, president of Tailored Solutions. Although Brian is my company’s president, his style of influence is to show me paths and let me forge my own way through them. He did not force me through the two years of school [at Cleveland State University] for my MBA, but instead showed me the advantages of taking that journey, and then made sure I didn’t have unnecessary obstacles while I went on it.
The second influencer, Ken, is the president of our major software we use at I.D. Images. He may not remember this, but when I was first hired, my main job was to install their software in all parts of our company. This meant that I had to quickly learn all parts of our company. Ken is the one who first opened my eyes to what someone can accomplish in our industry, and I still remember his talks about that.
His most meaningful business accomplishment: At our company, we have gone through seven acquisitions, and I have been at the forefront of all of them. During an acquisition, there is a lot of unknowns and uncertainty that are hard to control. This can easily lead to cultural issues with integrations and can hurt the synergy gain that acquisitions bring. I have always been proud of my ability to manage and run the acquisitions, and help bring everyone together into the I.D. Images’ team.
His differentiating factor: My personal passion in life is continuous knowledge gain. Every year, I pick a topic and dive deep into it to gain an understanding of how it works and how it can be used in the world. Usually, the topics are in some technical area because I have always been a computer nerd. For instance, in 2017, my topic of interest was in robotics and automation. I took classes and even prototyped out some systems that we could use here at work. I now feel that I have a deep enough understanding that when we start to do full automation that I will be able to competently lead those projects. For 2018, my topic of interest is cryptocurrencies and the concept of the blockchain, which I feel is going to be an exciting and revolutionary technology. My overall goal in my passion is not to become an expert in a year, but [to] gain enough knowledge that I can appreciate the complexities in them. These goals have always kept me forward thinking. [Self-investment] is an important aspect to staying personally competitive.
What he does for fun: My spare time is split between my two loves: my family and my video games. I have a wonderful librarian wife, Suzie, and two most-of-the-time wonderful kids, Georgia and Max. Lastly, if anyone else in the industry would like to game, you can find me as TieDyedGuy on almost every single gaming platform.