Emerging from the furore that plagued the industry’s peak body this year, Printing Industries Association of Australia’s new chief executive Andrew Macaulay has stepped up to the plate with a passion for print and a full trust in the power of resilience.
Arriving at the PIAA with a rich past in manufacturing and technology, and experience in turning an industry association around, it is clear to see why the Board believes Macaulay is the right man for the job.
Macaulay kicked off his tenure with PIAA on the coat tails of a heated few months at the association, which saw an exodus of key staff and Board members, and considerable member uproar. The new CEO was quickly headhunted after his predecessor Jason Allen resigned, and was pegged as the man who could pick up the pieces in an industry that craves direction and service.
“When I got the call from Printing Industries, they said, ‘you have a very interesting mix of experience that we need,’” recalls Macaulay.
Printers demanding a PIAA leader with print a background and political lobbying will be pleased to find out Macaulay has practical experience with both. His resume boasts many parallels with the printing industry, including working with one of the world’s largest printing companies, Oberthur in France, and leading the membership of the NSW Farmers Association through major political lobbying.
“I essentially see the association needs three main legs – IR services, lobbying and industry promotion. We are rebuilding the lobbying side of the PIAA. We are forming member consultative committees to help us prioritise where we lobby, and I have a strong background in political lobbying so we are seriously connected in that way,” he says.
The new CEO has already pinpointed the industry’s weaknesses, and is determined to explore how printing can be promoted not only internally but to the world’s most powerful communication channels.
“I knew the printing industry was big when I first took on this role, but I did not understand the complexity of it. That is the biggest opportunity for the print sector – to promote itself,” says Macaulay.
“We are good at discussing internally about what we do, but one of the things I want to do with Printing Industries is turn that message outwards to our politicians and mainstream media and say ‘value the massive contribution print makes to the economy’. Just to start with it is the largest employer in Australia’s manufacturing sector.”
“We are a significant employer, we train and promote staff in clear career paths, and our politicians and legislators need to know this. Even the smallest printer has hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of high tech equipment, is a technology innovator, and an employer who is embracing change. Our large printers employ hundreds of people, invest millions of dollars, and are constantly re-inventing themselves. The flow on effect for the economy is enormous.”
Macaulay is open about the specifics of his turnaround plans for the PIAA. A major issue the industry had with past team was the lack of communication and member interaction, but the new boss is already on the case. He is forming member consultative committees to ensure the members voice is heard in planning.
“After all of the furore that the organisation went through last year, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to come face to face with,” he says.
“I set out with a deliberate intent to meet every single member, to get out on the field and meet printers. I haven’t yet met them all but I’ll get there, I have been to meetings onsite in NSW, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.”
“It is important that members know it is their association, and know we are listening to them, and I need to know who they are too,” he adds.
Macaulay has already proved he isn’t just a toothless tiger manning the helm of the PIAA. Upon assuming the role, he observed the association’s biggest opportunities and set out to fulfil them, including the removal of ‘sales’ from the association’s agenda. “All of the PIAA field staff had titles such as sales manager, and I thought, we are a member and services organisation, so why are we talking about sales?” says Macaulay.
“We need to be communicating not selling, so on week one I changed their titles and focus to member services which is more symbolic of what we are doing.”
One of the biggest problems printers face is the erratic nature of print in an online digital world. Holding a leadership role in the print industry’s peak association means Macaulay needs to foster a sense of solidarity and empowerment for a turbulent trade.
“I am so excited by the industry, and I am fascinated by what printers do. It is absolutely not all going to do digital, because people need and always will need the printed piece, whether in marketing, packaging or communication.” he says.
“This isn’t about not embracing technology, it is the exact opposite – yes there is a lot more digital marketing out there, but electronic media simply doesn’t work without the printed piece.”
“There will always be printing, and I’m not going out on a limb to say this, I well and truly believe it.”
Despite Macaulay’s conviction in the industry, he says there is still a lot of work to be done to uplift those that are struggling, and unite printers big and small.
“There has never been a more exciting time to be a printer in Australia. Obviously right now there are still structural issues, and there are issues with industry consolidation. There are some printers really struggling and some are thriving, and it is the job of Print Industries to help the industry through it.”
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at [email protected]
Sign up to the Sprinter newsletter