Executive Perspectives: Stuart Boyar of the Cooley Group Inc., and PSDA
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 Stuart Boyar, president and CEO of the Cooley Group Inc., Rochester, N.Y.; and president of PSDA, Chicago. Here, he talks about his approach to relevance, how to navigate industry challenges and the effects of an evolving supply-chain dynamic.
Stuart Boyar: This January is my 41st year in the printing industry, and it all happened by chance. I had moved to the Atlanta area in 1976 and went to an employment agency to find a job. They suggested I get into one of three different lines for recruiters in various industries. The line I chose happened to be for NCR Systemedia for a sales position in the Atlanta area. I received the job offer and after three years in Atlanta, I was promoted to a manager position in Florida. In 1982, my wife, Vancy, and I wanted to move back to the Western New York area, and I accepted a position with Cooley Business Forms [that same year]. I have been with Cooley (now the Cooley Group), and have served as president, since 1998.
How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
SB: The goals I set for myself revolve around the business and my personal life. Tackling a few things at a time, remaining balanced, giving back to others and enjoying life to the fullest are crucial on a day-by-day basis.
Business goals are determined through strategic planning with our executive leadership team. As a group, we determine what our goals are for a specific period of time and then align our actions to hopefully hit that mark. Years ago, we were working with three- and five-year action plans, but as business has become increasingly more fluid and full of technological changes, our time period has decreased substantially. One goal has been to benchmark the perception of our company to our clients and how it measures with the rest of our industry. We conducted a full Net Promoter Score independent survey with Butler Street Research and found both our strong spots and weak spots, which we can improve upon. Transparency and consistent touch-points have proven very valuable to the relationships with our clients.
How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
SB: Our robust economy is both a blessing and a curse. While business remains consistent, there is a strong feeling that a correction will happen soon. The western and central New York economy typically moves very little in any type of economic swing, which inhibits substantial growth. Investments in business improvements, software, hardware and people all need to be made, yet are done cautiously with an eye on the economy. It is critical that we invest in our future and stay relevant on a continual basis as conventional products keep changing.
What do you expect to be some of the biggest changes the industry will face?
SB: We have been conditioned for years that distributors bought their goods from manufacturers and that only distributors were [a] part of the sales cycle. That is completely changing, as our clients have become extremely educated and knowledgeable about our industry and the systems and products we sell. Collaboration is crucial in today’s market as we face constant technological advances, new system changes and a greater focus on strategy and consultation. Strategic relationships will be commonplace if they are not already.
What keeps you up at night?
SB: Technology, changes that occur on a continual basis, personnel and an aging industry [keep me up at night]. Dealing with all of these as it relates to my business and how to navigate them certainly weighs heavily on my mind. As president of the PSDA, [I can say] these same changes concern me as they relate to all companies within our industry and how we as an association can assist others to deal with them.
What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now? Why?
SB: Refocusing our attention from transactional sales to a more consultative approach has been refreshing, exciting and very well received. As we have entered new markets, new products and new vendor relationships we have been able to discover the opportunities and growth that are available. Strategic one-on-one sessions with our clients’ upper management have allowed us to be a part of the initial framing discussions for their marketing plans as they move forward.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
SB: I love all types of sports, but I am a baseball traditionalist—the National League is the only pure league. I love collecting and drinking wine, although my collecting has slowed down recently. I enjoy traveling all over with my wife, as often as we can, and there is nothing more important to me than my family.