David Holland has made a name for himself in the print world with his innovative supply-chain and marketing services solutions. But while Holland’s career may be a testament to his ability to execute complex strategies, his initial path was more direct. Like many new graduates, he was after two things: passion and financial stability. He found both.
“I was like many [people] after graduating from college in 1980—my first thought was to find a job and make some money,” Holland recalled. “Little did I know that that first job would lead to a passion for an industry that would change in the next 30 years more than [it had] in the prior 200.”
Inspired by the fundamentals of hard work and personal responsibility, Holland climbed the ranks in management for major corporations, including Reynolds and Reynolds Company, and Relizon, the latter of which was eventually acquired by Workflow Management, the parent company of WorkflowOne.
During his presidency at WorkflowOne, Holland led a transition involving new client-driven technology, with an emphasis on customer satisfaction. He parted ways with the company in 2007, and WorkflowOne’s loss became DataSource’s gain. As president and CEO, Holland has stayed busy spearheading DataSource’s transformation from a broad-based print supply-chain leader to a marketing- and brand-focused partner to big-name retailers, providing marketing as a service.
Read on as Holland talks shop.
How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
David Holland: For me, both personally and professionally, goal-setting is as much inspirational as aspirational, with an understanding that you never really “arrive” as much as enjoy the journey, as each summit is, in fact, a plateau. However, that’s not to say there’s [not] a good balance of tactical measurable planning along the way, with the occasional adjustments being made to overcome obstacles. At DataSource, we strategically plan three to five years out—taking the customer, the market and our capability to execute in consideration, while yearly building tactical plans by function that are all measurable and agreed to by the business leaders. While the summit is our goal, tactically, we only look ahead one stake at a time.
How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
DH: It affects segments of our business greatly, like the restaurant segment. As the economy struggles, so does this segment. At DataSource, we have diversified in products, segments and service to help insulate our business from economic volatility. For products, we created innovative integrated solutions that helped our customers be more efficient and more effective in their businesses. We added segments that help offset too much concentration in economy-affected business. For outsource services, we replicated like-industry processes workflow improvements.
What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges the industry will face?
DH: ... It is clear that there is a lack of identity and, therefore, no clear strategy for many. It’s a hold-on-tight mentality as the industry faces the most dramatic changes it’s ever seen. Products are moving to services, off-the-shelf is moving to on-demand, large national campaigns are moving to micro-in-market campaigns and, of course, the ever-changing technology landscape. The winners will be those who either consolidate or commoditize the traditional products, or specialists who integrate the diversity of products and services on behalf of the customers as their world becomes more complex. Those caught in the middle will cease to be around.
What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now? Why?
DH: We are in a great place in our strategy as a company. Our messaging is resonating with our customers, and the true measurement of that is that we are winning in the market. Our hit rates are the highest I have experienced in 35 years and the customer size per deal has doubled every year over the past three years. Our advantage is our tech-enabled services approach supported by people who know our customers’ businesses; prescriptive repeatable processes that are measurable; and an end-to-end, award-winning technology platform. Coke has its secret formula—an owner asked me if I could share our secret sauce and, while not locked away in a vault like Coke, it’s in the DNA of our people.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
DH: I love life in general, whether I’m in the Bahamas fishing, reading a great book, or enjoying an evening out with good food and great friends. Regardless of what we all do, it is most important to enjoy the moment with joy and happiness, as it will never return, and not spend too much time pondering things that have yet to happen.