It's easy to dismiss the career ambitions of teenagers. After all, high school is a place for developing skills to take to college where self-discovery happens. Joe Kluessendorf is an exception to this rule.
Kluessendorf wanted access to his high school's darkroom to develop his own pictures. The problem? This privilege was reserved for graphic arts students.
Instead of abandoning his goal, Kluessendorf signed up for some classes. As a result, he made the "easy decision" to continue his studies at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. An internship at a sheet-fed printer in Milwaukee validated this choice.
"One of my jobs was to audit the salesperson's expense accounts. That really opened the eyes of a 20 year old! I decided then and there I wanted to sell, and that was over 25 years ago," he recalled.
Kluessendorf currently serves as the Midwest region: vice president of sales for Saint Cloud, Minnesota-based Nahan Printing, Inc.
Here, he shares his thoughts on the industry.
Print Professional (PP): Tell us about your background—Where did you grow up, what school did you attend, your degree?
Joe Kluessendorf (JK): I grew up a Cheesehead just outside of Milwaukee. I received my undergraduate [degree] from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Graphic Arts Management, and my MBA with a concentration in sales management from Aurora University.
PP: Describe your business style.
JK: While it may sound trite, promise good and deliver great. You must try to differentiate yourself and your company on something other than price. When all you are selling is price you become a distribution medium and it becomes very hard to distinguish yourself. Also, trust the people you work with. Find good people, give them clear goals and objectives, hold them responsible and then let them go.