As part of Print+Promo’s ongoing feature, Executive Perspectives, we get to know leading professionals in the print and promotional industry. This month, we interviewed Cheri Miroballi, vice president of sales and owner of TABBIES, a Div. of XERTREX International Inc., Itasca, Ill. Here, she details her professional journey, explores the mixed effects of remote working and shares how she is adapting her product line in response.
How did you get started in this industry, and what path did you take to land in your current role?
Cheri Miroballi: I am part of the third generation and have worked in my family’s business since I was 14 years old in every department in every facet. Long-term, it definitely was helpful that I was somewhat familiar with every area of our business. My father [Dennis Cunningham] wanted my brother [Chris Cunningham] and I to work elsewhere before we started with the family business, but it didn’t turn out that way. Speed up to about 15 years ago [when] I was working in our customer service department, my father asked me to go back to school and study human resources, as we were growing quickly and he needed a person he could really trust in that position. So, I went back and got my certificate in human resource management and then eventually graduated with an MBA. I honestly did not like HR once I really was thrown into the position. I enjoyed the sales aspect a lot more. So, now fast forward to about 10 years ago, our sales manager at the time was leaving, and my dad called me in his office and said [I had] to take over our sales. That afternoon, I was at a meeting with the largest national office products wholesaler, and the rest is history!
How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
CM: Writing down goals and assigning dates definitely helps me consider what we want to achieve and then commit to it. [It] keeps me in check, whether it be personal or business. Myself and my business partner, who is my brother [Chris], keep each other accountable for the tasks and dates that are set. I think setting goals—whether big or small—once achieved, is a wonderful feeling [and] gives you a sense of purpose.
How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
CM: Due to the great change in how business is conducted with people now working from home, much of our industry, office products, are reliant on the employee at home. This is going to cause a major decrease in office products for a long time—at least until employees physically get back into their company’s offices. There will [also] probably be some changes that will never come back. Guess we will see!
What do you expect to be some of the biggest changes or challenges the industry will face?
CM: Before the whole pandemic, our biggest challenge was hiring skilled labor [and] finding people who are really motivated to work or willing to be trained. Now the question [is], will we actually ever come back to full production as it was before the pandemic by people physically coming back to their offices, or will they work from home, which will definitely affect productivity?
What keeps you up at night?
CM: My mind, like many others, does not shut off, even at night. I am always thinking [about] what will be next.
What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now? Why?
CM: During these difficult times, we launched a new line of products called BeSAFE Messaging, which consists of floor decals, wall decals and table tents encouraging social distancing, new traffic patterns, safety rules and more. We began this project [in] mid-May and did our first launch of our commercial line in the beginning of June. Since then, we have launched our food service and education social distancing catalogs and we are working on our fourth. Even though these are difficult times, this product line has our sales team motivated and excited to sell. Our business has several niches and gives us the ability to cross-sell our capabilities to many different industries and BeSAFE Messaging products just add to that. We are celebrating our 65th anniversary this year, so our name and brand are very well-established—something we are very proud of.
What would people be surprised to learn about you—hobbies, special interests, etc.?
CM: I am an avid cook and definitely enjoy my wine! I travel as often as I can to any Food TV Network Food and Wine festival, whether domestically or internationally.