executive perspectives: Homeward Bound
As a young salesman peddling maintenance on IBM check-sorting equipment, Joseph G. Scott's travel schedule was demanding at best. Naturally, Scott didn't think anything of his frequent travel or red-eye flights back home. That all changed after one fateful trip when he returned to find his three-year-old son sitting on the step to greet him.
"He was upset and asked me why I was gone all of the time," Scott recalled. "I replied, 'I don't know.' I quit the next day."
After some time off, Scott returned to the workforce armed with a list of hefty requests that included no traveling, the ability to work from home, and a long-distance boss—preferably 1,000 miles away. A tip led him to a sales position at Balfour, a company that dealt with employee recognition programs.
Scott knew something was off when his new employer cautioned against selling promotional products. Approximately three years later, the company was up for sale. Scott took his cue, along with his accounts, and ran.
Things didn't exactly go as planned with Scott nearly "running things into the ground." He turned to his wife, Katie, for help. According to Scott, she "righted the ship, hired some people and Scott & Associates Inc. was born."
Today, Scott serves as vice president of Scott & Associates. The company offers a full array of marketing services ranging from multimedia production to promotional products. Read on as Scott talks business and opens up about himself.
Print+Promo (P+P): How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
Joseph G. Scott (JGS): In business, my wife Katie and I determine how much margin we need to generate to give our employees and ourselves the kind of lifestyle we want. I've got a really good idea of how many sales calls, presentations and proposals I need to make in a given time period to make that happen. Katie runs the business, manages the employees and expenses, and collects the money, and I'm responsible for creative and new business development.
P+P: How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
JGS: I believe that we make our own nano-economy. If all we offer is facilitation of promotional products transactions, our nano-economy will suck. If we focus on generating tangible, trackable results (revenue and profit) for our clients, our nano-economy will be great, irrespective of what the national or international economy does. Blaming one's income on "the economy" is a cop-out and is symptomatic of issues closer to home.
P+P: What do you expect to be some of the biggest changes or challenges the industry will face?
JGS: The No. 1 issue is being a "me too" and competing on price. We have to focus on driving revenue and profit for our clients—and proving it to them, to keep our jobs.
P+P: What keeps you up at night?
JGS: Nothing, really. We sell promotional products as an add-on to a larger relationship. When we have been tapped to do the marketing and/or advertising work for a client we ask, "Do you purchase promotional products? It's an advertising medium and we should do that for you, too." We usually get the business.
P+P: What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now? Why?
JGS: We're using in-house 3-D printers to produce low-quantity, personalized promotional products and prototypes. The margins are huge (90 percent) and the prototyping is much faster than sending it out to a service. In my opinion, 3-D printing is good for one- to 200-piece orders of things like keychains where each employee gets his or her name "in the plastic."
P+P: What would people be surprised to learn about you—hobbies, special interests, etc.?
JGS: The "music thing" (I play guitar, bass and keys) is out of the bag, after playing at [promotional product industry shows like] SAAC and PPAI Expo. I'm a pilot and I paddle through the Panama Canal, on occasion.