executive perspectives: In Command
There's an old theory about the print industry: You're either born into it, or you find it by accident—like James O'Brien did.
During his service in the United States Army, O'Brien never envisioned life as a print professional, but that's exactly what happened after he retired his combat boots. In need of a job, O'Brien accepted a sales position at Uarco, which evolved into managerial roles. He went on to handle sales and management for Duplex Products, until talk of the company's impending sale could no longer be ignored. But if O'Brien learned anything from his army days, it was how to be resourceful.
"I collaborated with a group of very smart people to start our new company," he recalled. "We incorporated many of the best things we saw at Duplex, and committed ourselves to not make the same mistakes that brought about their demise. We embraced the distributor model, and collectively worked to keep our focus on building an intimate understanding of each client's business."
O'Brien currently serves as president and managing partner of that company, GO2 Partners (then known as Print Management Partners). GO2 Partners is 100 percent employee owned, with eight offices located throughout the Midwest.
Read on as O'Brien talks business.
Print+Promo (P+P): How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
James O'Brien (JOB): I am concerned about the long-term sustainability of many companies in this industry. We have seen that a great number of printers have closed or been consolidated during the last decade, and I believe many distributors will confront that same fate. The national economy affects everyone to a degree, but each of us really lives in a microeconomic world. The recession, which started in 2008, and the recovery that started about two years ago certainly affected all of us, but we all are more directly impacted by the addition or loss of individual clients. Companies in our industry that are not growing in this market will be hard-pressed to survive, whereas companies that think strategically, and have the resources and talent to earn new business, will face a prosperous future. We see the distributor model continuing to become more capital-intense, technology-driven, and oriented toward delivering value-added services. Companies that embrace this reality will be rewarded in the marketplace as far into the future as I can see.