Executive Perspectives: Rick Haman of Label Works, powered by Navitor
As part of Print+Promo Marketing’s ongoing feature, Executive Perspectives, we get to know leading professionals in the print and promotional industry. This month, we interviewed Rick Haman, general manager of Label Works, powered by Navitor, North Mankato, Minn. Here, he explains how print chose him, hints at new product categories and reflects on the industry bright spots of 2020.
How did you get started in this industry, and what path did you take to land in your current role?
Rick Haman: I started in this industry unintentionally. In my business career, I’ve had the good fortune to serve in a number of roles—from finance, to operations, to sourcing, and then to sales. I’m fortunate to be part of an organization that believes in opportunity and security, and [I’m] similarly fortunate to have experienced a number of different roles. It’s never boring, that’s for sure. I feel I’m best suited leading an operation and people, so when the general manager role at Label Works became available due to strong growth, I shared an interest in that role and was lucky enough to be selected.
How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
RH: Having experience in the financial part of the business, I always start with goals around the numbers, both in terms of revenues and related expenses. Then, we collaborate as a leadership team to determine what strategic focuses and activities will move us directionally to achieve them. I try to find a good balance between being a financial analyst, being realistic while stretching at the same time, and making sure we have the right people with the right skills on the right seat of the bus. Those business goals then cascade into my own personal business goals with activities to bring business results to fruition. A big part of that, too, is making sure I have some personality within them. We are not robots or machines simply focused on numbers. We are people—employees, manufacturers of labels who serve and support our marketplace partners. I want to make sure our markets and employees are well-served and that our employees enjoy coming to work and have some fun along the way. So, I think about these sorts of things as I set personal goals.
How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
RH: It always is a factor in decision-making and planning for sure. Needless to say, the last 12 months in particular have been very unique and brought some challenges not seen before. Due to many factors, we continue to see an increase in input costs which we are working to mitigate and manage as best we can. As are all others, I’m sure. Along with challenges come opportunities, so we’ve adjusted, pivoted in some areas, and are working on different products and different methods to ensure quality, service, delivery and prices are tolerable for everyone along the supply and sales chain.
What do you expect to be some of the biggest changes or challenges the industry will face?
RH: That’s an excellent question and I’m not sure there are one or two specific things to comment on. I think change itself. Who would have thought coming out of 2019 that the pandemic would have hit us as it did and changed our business and personal lives as we knew it—along with the economic impacts we’ve seen and will continue to see in the future? What has been very encouraging and reassuring to see is how so many businesses and business owners have adapted, adjusted and function successfully in the environment of the last 12 months. So, whatever future changes and challenges come our way, I feel confident that they will be figured out and everyone—suppliers, manufacturers, resellers, consumers—will continue to work well together to fill market needs and demands.
What keeps you up at night?
RH: Honestly, not much keeps me up at night in this regard. The labels (and packaging) space is a good one to be in, I think. The possibilities and creativity are nearly endless in terms of expressing a sentiment, an instruction, a direction, a brand, or any other necessary or needed information on a product that sticks or clings to something. Same with packaging in terms of containing something. Our company is blessed to work with an excellent group of partners along the supply and sales chain—true professionals who help fill market demands and needs. Plus, and most importantly, our employee team at Label Works is simply the best. We believe in personal service and being the “label experts so you don’t have to be.” We have a very experienced group who are knowledgeable, accountable and simply really good at what they do. So, that helps me sleep pretty well at night!
What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now?
RH: I don’t want to tip my hand, but there are a number of product segments that we traditionally and historically [had] not been engaged with that we are taking a hard look at. We have and will continue to make people and equipment investments to develop and support those products and promote to our resellers, helping them to expand their offering and business success, too. So, more to come on that. But let’s just say for now we have a number of things in the works. Again, this is a great market space to be in.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
RH: For fun, as a little side gig, I do public-address announcing for a number of high school and college athletic events in the area. Mainly basketball, but also other sports. I had the great opportunity to be the field voice of our women’s professional fastpitch softball team in the summer of 2019 when they called Mankato their home. The pandemic forced cancellation of the season in 2020 and now in 2021, but hopefully we’ll be able to do games in 2022. And hopefully they’ll have me back!