Greg Schwartz, 34
Vice President of Sales
How he got his start: I got involved in this industry by unforeseen life challenges that led me to an opportunity with a national company called Proforma. [For five years,] I was the operations manager for a transportation company in Kent, Ohio, where I helped grow the company client base year after year, and became the premiere taxi company in Kent for a majority of my time there. The company began taking financial hits as Uber and Lyft came on the scene, so I looked at the writing on the wall and decided to take my skill set elsewhere. My wife was working in the print and promo industry and connected me with a top print and promo franchise—Proforma Signature Solutions. The company offered me a chance to start a new career path and build a book of business. This was the kind of opportunity that I couldn’t pass up, as my passion was always focused on entrepreneurship and relationship building.
I landed my current role with Hotcards because [company CEO] John Gadd approached me through LinkedIn and wanted to see if I had any interest in hearing more about the opportunity with his company. At first, I didn’t give him the time of day, and I kind of half-answered his questions to me through LinkedIn messaging. After he had reached out to me a couple more times throughout the next few months, I finally decided to see what Hotcards had to offer. I was blown away by the opportunity. Hotcards had an impressive client list that needed the “red-carpet” treatment, and I loved the fact that Hotcards was a small company where I could make a big impact as the leader of the new Enterprise Division. The chance to create and mold my own sales department brought out the entrepreneur in me and was intriguing enough for me to take the job opportunity.
His current role: I am currently the vice president of sales. I am responsible for making sure that the Enterprise Division at Hotcards is hitting monthly and yearly sales goals set by me and John. I am in charge of providing the necessary tools for success for our growing sales team, along with making sure that our account managers are properly supporting our staff in their day-to-day sales. I attend weekly meetings not only with my team, but also the leaders of Hotcards to make sure that we are working as a single unit toward the same goal, which is to obsess over our clients and make sure that everything we do is focused on providing the best service possible at all levels.
What he likes best about his job: The best thing about my job is that I have been given the ability to lead and manage my team with the flexibility and full support of our CEO. John is willing to support our team with anything we need as long as it drives sales and is in the best interest of our clients. My team has developed its own family culture within the Hotcards culture, and I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many young talented people in our industry.
Age roadblocks and advantages: The biggest challenge for people my age is being able to disconnect from work and have a proper work-life balance. With phone technology, it makes it nearly impossible to turn work off when you are at home spending time with family or friends.
I would say the biggest advantage goes hand-in-hand with the biggest challenge. Phone technology allows the speed of business to move faster than ever before. The quickness in which [we] communicate with clients and vendors allows us to move projects from start to finish at a rapid rate. In sales, communication is key, and we have so many ways to accommodate our clients through email, text or call.
His biggest career influence: Two people have been the most influential in my career: Rich Bewley, owner of Proforma Signature Solutions, and John Gadd. Rich was my mentor when I first got into the print and promo industry, and he played a major role in my early-mid development as a sales rep. Rich worked with me daily to develop my prospecting and meeting skills. This was my first commission-based sales job, so he not only had to bring me up to speed with the industry, but also had to develop my sales skills. He was willing to support me 24/7, attend meetings with me and help answer any questions I had to properly support clients. He helped me build my client base, but he also believed in me enough to allow me to manage some current clients of his to help get a jump-start in my sales.
John became my mentor from day one when I came to Hotcards. I got the opportunity to share an office with him and truly learn how he handled day-to-day business. He immediately trusted me to take over some of the biggest clients he had, so that I could provide an even greater service than they were already receiving. John is an incredible leader, and I soaked up everything he did on a daily basis, so I could take what I learned from him and add it to my sales repertoire. John taught me that no matter how bad you think your day is going, the one thing you can always control is your attitude, and, no matter what, he always would have a smile on his face and would [turn any] negative into a positive. I am one to wear my emotions on my sleeve, and he has helped play a key role in my attitude and how I handle stress and pressure. John has developed an amazing team culture at Hotcards, and it mirrors his own personality of being positive and always working as a team to battle daily challenges.
His most meaningful business accomplishment: My biggest accomplishment during my career was hitting the $1 million sales mark. As I was learning under Rich at Proforma, it became such a big milestone to hit a sales goal of $1 million. Unfortunately, I was not able to hit this milestone at Proforma, but I was able to hit this goal in my first full year at Hotcards. It was a major accomplishment and now hitting the $2 million sales goal is the next milestone I am focused on.
His differentiating factor: I focus only on things that I can control, and that is providing the best possible service for my clients. ... I start by making myself available to them in whatever communication method they prefer (e.g., text, email, phone call). My team and I pride ourselves on having full transparency with our clients, which means that even if things are not going smoothly, we can provide them an update every step of the way. We will not come to a client with a problem without recommending a solution. We always try to maximize our client’s budget, and we all know in this industry that sometimes no matter how much value you can bring to a client, it all comes down to saving on budget. We try to work within budgets from the beginning so that we don’t waste the client’s time with back-and-forth emails.
Why he believes the future is bright: One thing I love about this industry is that support from vendors seems to get better as technology improves in certain market segments. I am finding new hot tech promo items are coming out every month, along with seeing my print production partners are constantly advancing their own technology capabilities in speeding up the time and quality of print production. Apparel never seems to be going out of style, as I don’t see people [not] wearing apparel in the next five years, so everyone is safe in the wearable segment.