Tray Inc. President Brian Burlace never sought out a position in print leadership. When he wasn’t working toward his degree in management and consumer studies at the University of Maryland, he was busy perfecting his moves on the lacrosse field. As graduation neared, Burlace, a proud recipient of the prestigious William C. Schmeisser Award, contemplated turning his passion for the sport into a full-time career.
He landed a coaching position with a high school team, but one year later, Burlace changed paths entirely and turned to a sales-placement firm for employment. “Through [the firm], I randomly interviewed at Tray, where I became very intrigued about this industry I had never even contemplated,” Burlace recalled. “I was hired in October 1994 [as an account manager] and thrown into the fire of learning the industry, as well as how to sell and manage clients and vendors.”
He continued as an account manager for the next 12 years until assuming the role of president in October 2006—the rest is history.
Read on as Burlace shares his thoughts on the industry and reflects on the accomplishments of his Glen Burnie, Maryland-based distributorship.
Print+Promo (P+P): How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
Brian Burlace (BB): I set short-term and long-term goals for both myself and our company, and break them into monthly, quarterly and annual goals. The goals aren’t necessarily solely based on numbers, but include building relationships and the trust of our clients. If our clients have complete trust that we have their best interests in mind, we have been successful with that account and eventually the business will follow.
P+P: How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
BB: The economy is a great excuse for our industry—you either join in complaining about it or you make your own breaks. Clients and prospects all around us are buying print materials every day, regardless of the economy, and our job is to have them buy it from us. There is plenty of work out there—you just have to earn it.
P+P: What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges the industry will face?
BB: The emergence of online-print competitors will be an obstacle moving forward as clients can quickly check prices and turnarounds online in a few minutes even though, in many cases, it is comparing apples and oranges. The online services can’t create the hands-on personal relationships that our account team can deliver. We need to be a resource to our clients by offering suggestions and options to improve the look and efficiency of their print materials.
P+P: What keeps you up at night?
BB: I sleep well knowing that our industry, although always changing, will always be a viable part of brand marketing. We have to be willing to change with new technology and trends while continuing to offer our clients the support and service to showcase their brands. Just a couple months ago, we became the official printer of the Washington Redskins, as well as a preferred print partner of the Washington Capitals and [Washington] Wizards. This exposure has been great for Tray and working with these national brands, as well as others, such as Under Armour, the Baltimore Orioles, Lockheed Martin and Hilton, has me looking forward to what the future holds.