Brian Buckley never had aspirations of joining the family print business. But by the end of his five-year stint at the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange, Buckley was ready for something more engaging—which is why he happily accepted a customer service position in 1981 at National Printing Converters
(NPC), a custom label and tag company started by his father Robert in the early ’60s.
After nine years on the sales side, Buckley relocated to NPC’s Indiana facility to learn about operations and production. He quickly moved up the ranks to become president in 1992. More than a decade later, Buckley packed his bags and headed back to the Los Angeles area, leaving the day-to-day operations to his capable leadership team. “I travel to Indiana six to eight times a year,” he said. “With technology today, I am connected 24/7.”
Today, the company continues to build on its reputation for technical expertise, friendly service and quick response.
Read on as Buckley shares his thoughts on the industry and how his company is staying relevant.
Print+Promo (P+P): How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
Brian Buckley (BB): Setting goals is tricky today given the constant and quick-changing business environment. I set personal and business goals as aims and intentions. I have seen where businesses are so focused on their goal they become rigid, constrained and unable to respond to changes. Rather, we focus on being flexible and adaptable to the changing environment, and our goals often are adjusted along the way. Our employees are empowered to make decisions in the moment based on our mission/values.
P+P: How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
BB: There are two components to today’s economy that affect us: 1) the over capacity of production hours available and its impact on margins, and 2) the need to differentiate ourself from the crowd of competitors. We are addressing these challenges by increasing our marketing efforts, developing innovative and creative products for new markets, and focusing on our customers’ positive experience when interacting with us.
P+P: What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges the industry will face?
BB: The quick-changing technologies and applications of the market make it difficult to know where to invest resources. Having been in the industry for over 30 years, I have seen many new products and technologies come and go. Knowing what will stand the test of time can be a guessing game. At NPC, we continue to invest in our employees and give them the tools and freedom to develop solutions to meet the needs and desires of our customers. As a family business, we do not have access to the deep pockets the big guys have. Our opportunity is to offer our customers a blank canvas and the resources to design a label or tag to meet their needs with flexibility, responsiveness and caring.
P+P: What keeps you up at night?
BB: Honestly, I sleep pretty well at night—just ask my wife. What challenges us every day is the speed at which technology changes. Recently, I have been involved with expanding our online presence. It’s like learning a new language. I’m sure my teenage boys could do things much faster than me. It’s a full-time job.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.