Some things are better left unsaid. Just ask Bill Doehler, executive vice president of Edison, New Jersey-based Prodigital Printing, A Consortium Company. When asked how he ended up in the printing industry, Doehler responded, "It's a complicated and exquisitely boring story best told from a barstool."
However, Doehler did give us some stories. Here, he offers insights about himself, his business philosophy and the future of Prodigital Printing.
Print Professional (PP): Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, what school did you attend?
Bill Doehler (BD): I grew up at the Jersey shore in what was, at the time, a pretty rural area (the town did not even have its own police force). It was an interesting place to grow up since we had a very small-town atmosphere during the off-season, and were inundated with people during the summer. As a "townie," there was no shortage of summer employment opportunities, and I learned a lot about dealing with people working at various boardwalk games of chance.
After grade school, my parents sent me to a military school to "straighten me out" (the whole no police thing made for a pretty wild crowd of youngsters). It seems to have worked in spite of my having been surrounded by 600 other young men who also needed to be straightened out.
PP: Describe your business style.
BD: I place a very high value on having a good time at work (some might say too high). I never could understand the "TGIF" approach to life where one is expected to suffer through 5⁄7 of their lives, and enjoy only the remaining 2⁄7. As a result, I try to surround myself with like-minded, upbeat people. I would also like to think I have helped others (both employees and customers) combine being productive with being cheerful and optimistic. This style enables me to work the kind of hours required to be successful with relative ease.
PP: What is the best business advice you ever received?
BD: My father spent 50 years selling life insurance, and from the time I was very young I was well acquainted with his daily mantra: "Help some people, have some fun, make some money." While it is not always possible to keep those three points in that order, I try to make sure I address each one on a daily basis.
PP: What is the secret to your success?
BD: One word: optimism! There are dozens of quotations about getting up after being knocked down, and all of them are 100 percent correct. I am blessed with an inherent, gut-level sureness that everything will work out fine if I just keep doing the right things. I am also prone to saying things (both aloud and to myself) like: "If it were easy, everyone would be doing it."
PP: What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now?
BD: I would like to think we are helping to raise the enthusiasm level in the industry about the future. We spend a lot of time helping distributors transform themselves from commodity-based suppliers to top-line, marketing service providers. There are very few things more exciting than seeing a person who was anxious about his business future land the first project of the rest of his life.
PP: What do you think will be the printing industry's biggest challenge in the next few years?
BD: I think the challenges faced will be very similar to those faced by virtually every industry category. Dealing with new, high-impact technologies that seem to appear from nowhere, and finding ways to stay relevant to increasingly empowered buyers. A bright note for our industry is the predicted rebound of direct mail marketing. Electronic media are not delivering the kind of results that were expected, and with TiVo, satellite radio and other consumer-controlled technologies, there are simply fewer options available to marketers.
PP: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
BD: You wouldn't know it by looking at me, but I am very handsome. Also, I am an avid (50-year-old) skateboarder.