Such Great Heights
The print and promotional industry is rich in history, filled with tales of old-world craftsmanship from long-standing, successful companies. But talk amongst outsiders often turns to concern: How can this sector compete against the charms of technology? Which company is on the bankruptcy chopping block? And, most importantly, who will preserve the industry’s legacy after the baby boomers retire?
We know better. The truth is, it’s an exciting time to occupy the print and promo space. Now driven by service-based approaches, the industry is filled with fresh ideas and, yes, cutting-edge solutions. At the forefront of this change is a group of young men and women—who are all younger than 40—with their own stories to tell.
This month, Print+Promo is showcasing just a few of them. So, sit back with your beverage of choice as these rising stars explain why they love this industry, offer advice to newcomers and more.
Chris Scala, 31
Suncoast Marketing Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
His big break: My dad, Bob Scala, is one of the owners at Suncoast Marketing Inc. [I] worked in the warehouse every day after high school and had the opportunity coming out of college. Actually, when I graduated from college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So, I asked my dad if I could work in the warehouse, and he said, “You didn’t go to college to work in a warehouse. Go make a call!” The rest is history.
Why he loves the industry: What I love about the industry is the opportunity it provides to make a living. I tell people all the time, I don’t have a job, I have a way of life. The way Suncoast is set up is 100 percent commission sales, and that is what I love most. It allows me to thrive on my entrepreneurial spirit, and create opportunities for myself, my family and Suncoast Marketing Inc. I especially love the “distributorship” model Suncoast was built on. We are not locked in to anything specific, which allows us the freedom to stay flexible in the market and cater to our clients’ needs. It’s a luxury when you can sell and then buy.
His backup career: I was blessed to be able to have the opportunity to work at Suncoast. I didn’t know what the opportunity of “sales” had to offer until I began my career. I have a genuine want to add value in everything I do. I hold myself to that standard. To me, that’s what life is all about. It’s funny, because when I first got started, maybe six months to a year into it, I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t know what else I would be doing that I would love so much to be up at 4 a.m. putting in work.” Knowing what I know now, I would definitely be in business for myself as a distributor in an industry that interests me.
His leadership style: I lead by example. My team knows my work ethic and what I’m about. I’m motivational and positive. I’m to the point and work to keep things simple. I hold my peers to the same standards [to which] I hold myself. We all must add value. I believe experience is the ultimate teacher, so I do allow my team the freedom to make decisions and encourage them to do so. The best way to learn is to do. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”
His biggest career influence: Pops! For sure. I am blessed to have my dad [Bob Scala] as a mentor. Oddly enough, we are able to separate home from work. Work is work, home is home. When I need advice, he is always willing to lend an ear. But, you better believe nothing is given to me for free. You can ask anyone who knows us, my father doesn’t make it any easier on us (my brother is in the industry, too); if anything, he makes it tougher. Anything worth having is earned—that’s how I was raised and that’s how I live my life.
His advice for those starting out: Network, network, network! Nothing is going to come to you, you have to go out and get it. Whether it’s actual networking, knocking on doors (how my business was built), making phone calls, sending emails ... you have to put yourself out there. Trust yourself and know that you are your own best asset. #letsgetit
What he does for fun: No. 1 is spending time with my family. My wife and two daughters are my why. They are the reasons I get up early and go to bed late. Our goals and dreams as a family keep me motivated and push me to #striveforgreatness. I like to get in at least 60 minutes of a good exercise and sweat daily. I have a workout routine I fit into my schedule. I do it in the morning and I feel I can conquer the world when I’m done. Golf is a passion of mine. I played in high school, have played off and on since then, but I have a newfound love for the game and do my best to make sure I pick up the clubs more often than not.
Staci Blaylock, 35
Customer Service Manager
I.D. Images LLC, Brunswick, Ohio
Her big break: After graduating [from] college, I was given an opportunity to work for a small, family-owned printing company. I found the work to be exciting and challenging. I enjoyed learning the whole business, as you often do in a smaller business. The vast knowledge I gained allowed me to form strong relationships with both our internal and external customers. This knowledge of the business and strong customer relationships have been my path to my current role as customer service manager.
Why she loves the industry: Our customers and their changing needs as innovation offers more exciting print options. Her backup career: I love working with both internal and external customers daily and couldn’t imagine doing anything differently.
Her leadership style: My leadership style is fluid. I coach each individual on my team in a way that is effective for them. I try to provide my team with as much information about the business as possible. I trust them to make good decisions for our customers based on the information provided to them. This trust empowers them to dream more, learn more and do more in their professional careers. My goal is to progress the careers of everyone on my team.
Her biggest career influence: Mike Shoals, sales representative with I.D. Images, has taught me a lot of the technical side of the business. From day one, Mike took the time to not only give the answer, but to show why the answer is what it is. This knowledge has been an asset to not only me and my career, but to my customers as well. Tim Mlnarik, director of sales, customer service and marketing with I.D. Images, has helped cultivate my leadership skills. He has taught me how to take a step back and look at situations from all sides. He continues to coach and support me on achieving my career goals.
Her advice for those starting out: My advice would be to continue to invest in yourself. Seek education not only from classes and books, but from the print professionals you encounter on a daily basis. There is always something new to learn. “Accomplishment will prove to be a journey, not a destination.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower.
What she does for fun: It is important as a working professional to find balance between my career and personal time. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family. As a family, we enjoy various outdoor activities.
Emily DelMarco, 27
City Paper Company, Birmingham, Ala.
Her big break: I was recruited by another City Paper Company employee, who happened to be my best friend, Lexi Artrip. We went to grad school together at The University of Alabama. As a close friend and former classmate, Lexi knew my interests and capabilities. She knew I’d be a perfect fit in the promotional products industry at City Paper Company.
Why she loves the industry: I love that this industry is the perfect blend between communications and sales. On any given day, I’m practicing brand management, marketing, public relations, strategic communication and advertising. Not to mention acting as a logistics expert, mathematician and miracle worker. Having the ability to apply those skills to help customers find the perfect products is the best of both worlds.
Her backup career: It is hard for me to imagine not working in the print and promo industry, because I don’t ever want to leave. But, without a doubt, I’d be working in the communications field doing marketing or public relations. I have such a passion for brand management. Shaping and managing the public’s perception of a specific brand or company is a huge responsibility. Any participation I can have in that would make me happy.
What success means to her: I could write a book on this, but I’ll keep it simple. In my job, success is best measured when watching a customer’s campaign in action. Seeing my customer reap the benefits of a successful promotional campaign lets me know that I did a great job helping them reach their goals.
Her biggest career influence: Stephanie Friedman, City Paper Company’s vice president of marketing. On my first day at City Paper, I tagged along to a client meeting with Stephanie. I sat in awe as I watched Stephanie instantly connect with the customer. She had such poise and professionalism—and her expertise and passion for the industry was obvious. She filled up the room with her positive energy, and you could just watch the customer melt into her arms. It was amazing to watch her work so naturally—when you really believe in something, you don’t have to fake it. She continues to inspire me as a leader at City Paper Company, bringing her knowledge to our workforce as a mentor and manager.
Her advice for those starting out: You have to believe in your product and its purpose, and you have to radiate that passion everywhere you go. Developing that trust and rapport with your potential customers is absolutely necessary. People can easily differentiate a “salesperson” and a “marketing expert”—if you have what it takes, they’ll trust you to do the job.
What she does for fun: I am a big believer in work–life balance. I spend lots of time exercising, cooking, reading and catching up on shows with my husband. I also love to travel and spend time with my family and friends.
Matt Mock, 38
Director of Sales
S.F. Mock & Associates LLC by Safeguard, Centerville, Ohio
His big break: After graduating [from] college, I started working for a medical staffing company. I realized quickly that this was not the direction I wanted to pursue in my broader career, so I began to look at other opportunities. Unfortunately, the job market was down, and I was going to quit my job at the medical staffing company and work for a landscaping business. However, at that time, there was a temporary customer service position open at my father’s distributorship, and I came on board to help fill that role. This ultimately turned into an outside sales position. Over the last 14 years, I’ve continued to grow in the company and take on new roles and responsibilities.
Why he loves the industry: It really is the people. I’m helping people solve their problems and finding solutions, tailored specifically to each customer’s needs. I really enjoy building the relationships, hearing what they need help with and subsequently adding value to their business with our products and services in both the print and promotional space.
His backup career: My first job out of school was in corporate America, and it just wasn’t for me. If I hadn’t gone to help my dad [Steve Mock], I probably would have landed in the landscaping industry. But, I know that I would be doing something entrepreneurial if I wasn’t with Safeguard.
His leadership style: I have a fairly laid-back approach. I feel that most people want to succeed and that you just have to find a way to bring out the best in each person. I like the workplace to be a fun environment. We sell fun products and get to help people with new and creative ideas, so I want my employees to feel like they are in a positive environment. Of course, I hold people accountable, but that’s not to say we can’t have fun doing it.
His biggest career influence: I credit my father for my success. He’s taught me everything he knows about the industry. He’s been in business for 34 years, and I grew up around it, and it’s always been a part of me. I may have only worked in the industry for 14 years, but I’ve been listening to my dad answer calls and help people since I was 4. He has not only taught me lessons—some more painful than others—but he has given me an opportunity to flourish and that is what I truly appreciate.
His advice for those starting out: What I tell all my salespeople when they get started is that you’re making friends and following up. Be sure to meet people, network and keep your clients’ best interests in mind in order to be successful.
What he does for fun: I enjoy playing golf and spending time with my wife and two children.
Taylor Schulty, 25
Sales and Marketing Director
AmeriPrint Corporation, Harvard, Ill.
Her big break: AmeriPrint Corporation is a family-owned business that my mother and father started together in 1990. After graduating [from] college, I was fortunate enough to be offered a position in sales and marketing. I was given the opportunity to immediately have an impact on retaining current/new customers and jobs.
Why she loves the industry: I love having the ability to connect with many different individuals. Networking is very important in today’s industry, and sales provides a gateway to be able to interact with important business leaders.
Her backup career: I think I would be somewhere in the sports industry. Sports has molded me into the person I am today. Being around athletics and watching it affect people the way it has my life would be very rewarding.
Her leadership style: My leadership style is very direct and team-oriented. Being able to communicate among different personalities, and doing so effectively, is necessary in the business world today.
Her biggest career influence: Everyone I have come in contact with since starting in 2014 has greatly influenced my career. When I first started at AmeriPrint, I shadowed every different job for at least a day. Observing each of these jobs helped me learn and understand how the jobs would flow through the plant from start to finish. In addition, building relationships with our paper salesmen, customers and everyone [in-]between has and continues to influence my career every day.
Her advice for those starting out: The best piece of advice I could give someone just starting out in this industry would be to know your product as best you can and always keep a positive attitude.
What she does for fun: In my spare time, I enjoy anything that keeps me active, spending time with my family and friends, and relaxing at home with my Morkie puppy, Spring. I also picked up golf this fall, and let’s just say I have a lot of practicing to do.