The print industry was sort of Gary St. Onge's high school sweetheart.
St. Onge, vice president of sales for Harvard, Illinois-based AmeriPrint Corporation, became infatuated with print while taking a print course at his high school.
"I took their introductory course as an elective and fell in love. I switched my major to vocational printing and decided to pursue a career in that trade," he said.
And the relationship has gone strong for decades. Here, St. Onge talks about his thoughts on the industry.
Print Professional (PP): Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, what school did you attend, etc.?
Gary St. Onge (GS): I was born in Cicero, Ill. in 1953 and lived there through most of my childhood. I graduated from J. Sterling Morton East High School in 1971. I received an associate degree in Photo-Offset Printing from Triton College in 1973.
PP: Describe your business style.
GS: My business style is technical. I make it a point to know as much as I can about the products we offer, how they are made and how they are used. Our distributors can depend on me to provide complete assistance and support when they buy our products.
PP: What is the best business advice you ever received?
GS: The best business advice I ever received was, "Treat every customer, no matter how big or how small, as if your very career depends upon their business ... because it does."
PP: What is your greatest business accomplishment and disappointment?
GS: My greatest accomplishment was passing the CFC (Certified Form Consultant) exam offered by our association (PSDA), then known as the NBFA (National Business Forms Association). When I decided to take the exam, I was a second shift supervisor for Form Service, Inc. I couldn't attend any study groups because of my work hours, so the owner, Sam Olsen, CFC, provided me with a Business Forms Handbook and some other study materials so I could prepare at home. To my surprise, I passed it on the first try. My greatest disappointment has been observing the steady decline of our once-thriving industry due to competitive technologies and economic conditions.
PP: What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now? Why?
GS: In recent years, we have retooled and continue to broaden our capabilities in the area of integrated products and other specialty document applications. As we searched for new distribution channels, we found a virtually untapped market for these and other conventional business forms products.
PP: What do you think will be the printing industry's biggest challenge in the next few years?
GS: The printing industry's greatest challenge over the next several years will be maintaining positive cash flow.
PP: What would people be surprised to learn about you—hobbies, special interests, etc.?
GS: People would be surprised to know that I sing and play several musical instruments. I am also a boy scout leader and have a passion for fishing.