Leadership courses a boon for printers

Six print managers have improved the efficiency and profitability of their firms, and helped their personal lives, by taking a year-long leadership course.

The LMA Leaders Challenge challenges budding leaders to dig deep to make big changes in their professional and personal lives to become better managers and more rounded people motivated to continuously improve.

Peter Scott, managing director of Dainippon Screen Australia, says the course is helping him hone in on some major goals for the chemical supplier that will contribute directly to its bottom line, including setting up sales strategies and raising its profile in new areas, such as the newspaper market.

“It’s easy day to day to get bogged down in the small details of people wanting things from you. Setting big picture goals on a timeline, and mapping out the steps you need to take achieve them, has made me more productive, more organised,” he says.

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Steven Gamble, who began the course as Böttcher’s northern regional technical sales manager for NSW, QLD, ACT and NT, has now been promoted to national sales manager. He says the 12-month programme has helped him to become “100 per cent more efficient in what I do.”

“My structure and time management is 100 per cent better. I have clear and defined goals for myself and the team, a focus on the future, where we are going and how we are going to get there,” he says.

Having worked his way up the ranks with Böttcher in his eight years with the company, Gamble says it was important to learn how to become a manager, rather than just one of the boys – and for this communication is key.

“If I want to get the best out of people, I need to talk in a way that motivates them and inspires them to keep going and be passionate,” he says.

Sydney wide format firm Look Print put two of its managers through the course; traffic workflow manager Daniel Collins and fabrication manager Jason Clancy both drove changes in their departments that CEO David Leach says have had a positive ripple-effect across the whole business.

Clancy undertook a major project to improve the company’s freight management, saving Look Print a six-figure sum by mapping out the best delivery options, maintaining a 2.5 per cent or lower average freight expenses.

“We now consolidate freight headed for the same destination, and we’ve reduced the use of express couriers, late pickups and overnight deliveries,” he says.

“In the last couple of weeks we have hit our target, and the trend is going steadily where we want it to be. Return on investment is significant. We’re talking six figures per annum. It’s massive.”

In traffic workflow, Collins automated 70 per cent of setting up colour tests by using a colour comrade program – which he says has resulted in fewer interruptions, reworks and reprints.

He also encouraged staff in the prepress department to cross-train across all equipment to improve flexibility.

“We tend to play to peoples’ strengths in this industry which is usually fine, but sometimes you end up waiting for someone because that is the only person who can operate equipment or knows a process,” he says.

“If everyone can do it, you won’t have any downtime.”

[Related: Look Print managers boost profits]

Rachel Vergos, prepress team leader at STI Lilyfield, has also been busy saving time and money for the Sydney printer by ticking off no less than 40 focus goals during the course.

She says fingerprinting STI’s three six-colour Komori presses for three stocks, with more stocks planned in the future, has been a teambuilding exercise, which will create a more productive and cost-effective department.

“If we can fingerprint the press to our proofs, we can get them signed off faster and produce a product that our client is happy to sign off on,” she says.

“There are less press checks and less costs from remaking plates, and it will save us a lot of time on the press.

“One of the stocks we’re looking to fingerprint is quite an expensive stock – at a dollar a sheet the fingerprinting could save us hundreds even in one job. We are increasing in our point of sale area, so this is where we need to be smart and on track.”

Clearing the back of the company’s plating area has also given it a space to keep more jobs, like taping, inhouse. The space now doubles as a drying area and is ready for equipment expansions down the track as the company grows.

“Before I was working late hours; I needed to be more focused, more productive. I came up with a list of the three things I had to do in a day, and everything else has followed,” she says.

For Mark Easton, sales and marketing manager at family-owned label business Impresstik, the programme become a company-wide initiative he was able to share with his 45 colleagues.

“Our company has been around for more than 40 years, and in the last two we have had enormous change – not just in the business but in the markets that have been traditional for us. So this course couldn’t have come at a better time,” he says.

The company brought in new equipment and technologies to diversify beyond its focus on high-end embellished labels for wine and spirits to the wider markets of general food and beverage.

Easton says the sales team also achieved an objective to bring more local NSW reasonable-size accounts into its customer base.

“Over the past 12 months we have been able to connect with our home market and build a bigger percentage of our sales from NSW,” he says.

“We reached the new business target we were aiming for within the first twelve months – and we have already exceeded that by 20 per cent. That's a 120 per cent improvement.”

PIAA chief executive Bill Healey says he is impressed by the achievements of the six managers, which he would like to see happening across the industry.

He says transformational leadership courses, such as those run by the LMA, are likely to be part of the $3.1m Future Print roll out, including 500 funded places in programmes for businesses around the country.

“One of the great strengths of this program is it’s not just about change, it’s a learning program that gives you the skills and capabilities to be a leader and manager,” he says.

“We recognise there’s a major transformation happening in this industry. There will be a vibrant, profitable and sustainable industry that emerges – but it will require knowledge, skills and dedication.

“The solutions that are going to make us a viable ongoing industry will require everyone to look above their own individual interests and collaborate in programmes like these.”

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