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 Jack Schachtel, president of CTP Solutions, Los Angeles. Here, he talks about his concerns for the present, explains how he’s adjusting to a virtual world and reflects on what’s important.
How did you get started in this industry, and what path did you take to land in your current role?
Jack Schachtel: So, through on-campus interviews at my university [California State University, Northridge] that I graduated from, I took a job [as a sales representative] with a company called Wallace Business Forms. I took the job basically because it paid me for what I would do, so if I sold printing, I would also get paid for whatever I sold. So, I started at Wallace in December 1981 and then I left Wallace in January 1990 to start my company, which started out with the name of Corporate Printing Services (CPS), and, as we went along, I saw the marketplace changing—and, printing being, you know, a connotation of ink on paper—and I felt that at that time we needed to change our name to something that reflected that we can sell not just printing, but digital-type solutions that tie into it. And … in a couple of years we became CTP Solutions, which the CTP represents “Concept Through Print.” And then this way we can also address customers and prospects that we’re looking at, not just, as I said, hard copy printing, but also any type of electronic solutions or digital solutions.
How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
JS: So, what we do is when we do our planning, we look at the previous year’s success[es] and failures, as well as the niches we’re in and at what stage the niches are in. If they’re in a matured part of their sales cycle, or their cycle—we don’t put as much effort into [it] … we maintain, we market, but since it’s mature and in this case, printing is a shrinking business, it’s not where the majority of our goals are set. It’s more in the niches we develop that are in their infancies that we’ll put a lot of marketing effort and sales effort into.
What do you expect to be some of the biggest changes and challenges the industry will face?
JS: We’re under the assumption that this year we will not be able to fly and meet with any customers [or] go to any trade shows, so we’ll be selling in a virtual environment. And, this way, when we take that approach—and I’m sure it’s going to go past this year as well—we will be trying different approaches with the goal of how do you market the customer, how do you present to the customer without physically being there? So, that’s what we’re focused on now.
What keeps you up at night?
JS: You know, I’ve been doing this for 38 years and since it’s a very dynamic business, ... we don’t even hardly do anything the same as we used to do, so change is expected in our industry, so I don’t really lose any sleep over that. I would probably lose more sleep over the health of the CTP family. We have not had any layoffs at all, we’ve kept everyone employed through this whole thing, and so that was part of my concern at a time of making sure that even though there will be months that we do not make money, how do I keep everyone employed because my company is a family within itself, and they have families … so it’s a lot of people. And I guess that would be, you know, how do I keep everyone employed? I’m happy to say that we have kept everyone employed. We’ve had no turnover.
What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now?
JS: I would say the most exciting things that we’re doing and also [to] add to that is what’s going to stick after we get finished with the coronavirus, so once that’s gone too, so it’s really pushed us to leverage [Microsoft] Teams for presentations, and we tried that with Zoom and then we feel we’ve taken the next level with Teams, and we’re creating digital tools that we really never leveraged that much. So, instead of flying out our implementation team for a large project, we can now have the implementation done through Teams where everyone can see each other, they can talk and develop rapports that way, so that, to me, is going to be a big savings, and I believe that will stick with how we do our business.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
JS: So, personally, unfortunately, I’m not spending as much time with my family as I’d like. I have four kids and a grandson. I don’t get to see them as much, so that’s very frustrating. I’m very family-oriented. I love hiking and biking. And the biggest challenge today is the relaxing. I would call that a special interest because, you know, with today everyone saying, “be safe, be safe, be safe,” I think everyone’s finally got[ten] the message to be safe, but I think that today’s challenges are to be sane. And what I mean by that is how do you stay sane being in this different type of environment, spending much more time at home working versus in an office and not flying out to see clients? So [the answer is] keeping the sanity of this new way of working, so relaxation is the key.