executive perspectives: In the Groove
The typical working teenager is busy stocking grocery shelves, ringing up customers or hoping for a generous tip. Edward L. Dignam's experience was a bit different.
At 16 years old, he landed his first full-time job at a local print shop in Baldwin, N.Y., where he performed a variety of tasks including running a small press, making plates and assisting in the bindery. Dignam was immediately hooked. "I loved the excitement and fast pace of the shop and I would read everything that came off the presses," he recalled.
Although Dignam's time at the shop eventually ended, he continued to thrive in a fast-paced lifestyle. He got involved in sales, worked in finance and real estate, and even played some gigs with various bands. But, in 1997, the print industry came calling again—and Dignam jumped at the chance to return.
Dignam's sister and her husband had just launched ASAP Printing Corp. in Salt Lake City, and needed his help to build revenue. Harnessing his energy and experience, Dignam won several major accounts, and today he serves as senior vice president of the $20 million company.
Here, Dignam talks shop.
Print+Promo (P+P): How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
Edward L. Dignam (ELD): Economic uncertainty had caused many printers to question the value of what they do. In the absence of such clarity, many printers discounted their prices and began to create what I call the "Race to Zero" over the last few years. Today, business cards are almost free, postcards are very low margin and even flyers have little value left as a result. The discounting hurt everyone. And it continues because many printers are still guilty of training print buyers that pricing is everything, without regard to quality or service. This is unsustainable. Lowering prices works for some companies, but only for a while—there isn't much the industry can shave off at this point. What is sad is that only about one-third of consumers are purely hung up on price. That means two-thirds of this market will pay you for your services good and proper, if you will work for it. Printers who communicate with passion can earn a solid customer base, because no one believes the lowest price ever equals the best offering. Even in a slow economy, there is no reason to ever fall into the pricing trap—except for laziness.