You’d be hard pressed to find a printing industry executive with more experience and business savvy than Gord Griffiths. He currently heads Gordon Group Enterprises Limited, a Toronto-based consulting firm that specializes in helping printing and packaging companies in the areas of revenue building, mergers and acquisitions, recruiting and succession planning. His resumé, accomplishments and roles in key industry organizations during the past 30 years would fill several pages of this magazine and then some.
But perhaps he is best known for his leadership as President of Quebecor Printing Canada from 1988 to 1998. Under his guidance, profit targets were consistently exceeded while producing the highest earnings of any Quebecor Printing division worldwide. He is also well known as co-founder of Pareto, Canada’s leading Shopper Marketing Company, which has now grown to the point where its sales exceed $100 million! He speaks from a wealth of experience and with a passion for our industry.
What overall comparisons can you make between printing in the 80s, 90s and the industry of today?
Overall, the industry had growth in the 80s and 90s which meant that you had a better chance to maximize equipment utilization. Most printers still had a few accounts that paid a fair market price. This provided margins to reinvest in new technology, develop sales teams and make purchases/acquisitions.
What do you see as the one biggest challenge now facing Canadian printers?
There are too many small players who do not specialize. All are competing in the same small marketplace. Many of the printers have little expertise, offer no added value to their customers and have accounts with limited growth potential. Printers wait too long to merge or sell, because they are hopeful that the market will improve.
If you owned a printing shop today, what specific strategies would you implement to help guarantee future success?
The fundamentals of running a successful business have not changed and are no different in the printing industry than in any other. Companies that survive are low-cost producers who know how to grow profitable sales.
What are some of the most common mistakes you see struggling printers making today?
In the past decade, the graphic arts industry has gone through a dramatic shift. Those that have continued to operate as they have in the past have lost their market share and profit levels. Another mistake is waiting too long to implement a succession plan. Little thought is often put into who will run the business and/or how it will be sold.
What gives you the most satisfaction when you interact with those in our industry? What are you most passionate about?
I enjoy watching a company transform from the traditional printer or manufacturer into a solutions-based provider. Companies that can provide content in any media or channel are of more value to a client as a marketer of that client’s products and/or services, than a company that only provides a single service such as printing.
What are you doing now? Anything new and exciting on the horizon?
Today, I am supporting a company called Colorsciences. Colorsciences specializes in Colour Measurement, Analysis and Process Control. Today, brand owners want consistent colour, no matter how their message is being printed or on which substrate. We are focusing on high-end printers and packaging companies with our CrossMatch Process Control System, On-Site Training Sessions, Colour Studies (Root Cause and Systemic Analysis), Colour Space Installations (Including GraCOL and G7 On-Site Proofing) and Enterprise Process Control.
Any further comments?
Being a printer in today’s tough economy isn’t easy. But if you have the right team, you will be successful. The companies that are successful communicate their plans well internally. When associates understand the direction, they will get behind the strategy. Everyone wants to succeed and success is contagious — in the final analysis nothing succeeds like success itself. I could fill many books on managerial motivation, but basically two things motivate people: proper challenges that can be met and a desire for everyone in the company to feel that they are an important part of the organization.