executive perspectives: For the Love of Print
Casual observers look at print and see ink on paper. We, with our trained eyes, however, see a narrative taking form through targeted messaging, stunning visuals and tactile effects. And no matter what charms technology throws our way, we'll never lose that loving feeling for print. Just ask Ryan Shacklett, president of Denver-based signobi.com.
More than two decades ago, a 20-year-old Shacklett fell hard for print. The equipment, the process, the end-result—it was all so fascinating. Shacklett chose to make a career out of it and took an electronic pre-press job with a local service bureau, which eventually led to an opportunity with a commercial printer. He pursued opportunities with a few other companies before the cycle of growth and downsizing became too unpredictable to handle. Shacklett branched out and launched his own company, specializing in graphic design and print brokering.
"The business morphed into website work, and in 2007, a large customer's loss of a vendor that closed due to the death of an owner created an awesome opportunity for us to enter the large-format printing market," he recalled. "Hence, we started with a single solvent printer and basic cutting equipment, with a $20,000-a-month client."
After seven years of steady growth and equipment upgrades, the business was in a position of "great capacity and capability," according to Shacklett. With that in mind, Shacklett launched signobi.com, a premier trade-only printer of large format solutions.
Read on as Shacklett talks shop.
Print+Promo (P+P): How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
Ryan Shacklett (RS): I believe goals have to be very fluid in today's world of technology and social factors changing the market on an almost daily basis. Setting goals that are too high is only a setup for failure. Instead, we have identified an end strategy for signobi.com, and have set many short-term goals to achieve. We have accomplished lots, but have many exciting things yet to come.
P+P: How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
RS: It means that we have to ever-strive to be more efficient in our operations. I believe that the model of online estimating and order processing, along with back-end automation, is the path to being as competitive as possible. I've invested hundreds of thousands into signobi.com, making our online system as powerful and streamlined as possible. Literally the moment a customer approves its proof, it's automatically included in the print batch and nest, and sent to RIP.
P+P: What will be some of the biggest challenges the industry will face?
RS: Customer education. The biggest challenge I feel the industry faces is offering products and services that are needed, but outside of common knowledge and understanding of the market. We have invested a lot in very nice sample kits, and online content to better educate customers on what's possible, and provide many options that offer greatly enhanced profit, but can only be utilized if the market is willing to learn the products and applications to sell them.
P+P: What keeps you up at night?
RS: New technology. It's a wonderful and horrible thing at the same time. Wonderful because it creates new opportunities, simplifies our world, but horrible because it can render our investments worthless overnight. So, we just have to be very aware of what new things are coming down the road, and quick to embrace and make changes to preserve our businesses and provide for our customers.
P+P: What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now? Why?
RS: Expanding what's available in the online wholesale arena through signobi.com. Far more powerful, but simplified, estimating. More materials options, and most importantly what's possible through offering custom cutting at very low cost, and white ink. These provide much greater creative potential, and options and products for our customers to offer and sell—all of it creating additional profit.
P+P: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
RS: Ten years ago, I got that wild hair to learn to fly helicopters. Not being the most physically coordinated individual, most who knew me were shocked I did it. Not only is it a thrill, but it forces you to clear your head entirely and focus on tasks at hand—what's important, don't forget to look at the instruments, plan your moves and navigate. And, most importantly, just keep flying!