Peter Lane has retired from the board of Printing Industries, to fond farewells and testimonials to his service to the industry.
He has been on the board for 27 years and by any measure it was probably time for him to move on.
He has given enough of his time to the rest of us, time that could have been spent running his business or with his family. And for the rest of us it is a good thing to have some new blood coming onto the board.
We have all had a lot to say about the running of PIAA over the last few years, me especially, and I am sure Lane will not miss our opinions.
And my opinions of the board members have been pretty low. Especially of the ones who contributed to the mess a few years ago and quit the board before the annual report came out detailing exactly how bad things were on their watch.
Lane was not one of them – he was there for the mess and he was there to clean it up. Even though I was heavily critical of the board during that period, I respect immensely those members who stuck in there and helped turn things around.
I am also grateful to Lane. He will not remember this, but I met him many years ago at PacPrint, and it was a meeting that helped change the fate of my company. I was staying at the Crown, and after a heavy day of PacPrinting I would hit the pool and gym to wind down. It was usually empty, but one night I was sitting near this bloke and we got to talking – turns out he is also in town for PacPrint. He is a fair bit older than me, and tells me he runs a shop in Adelaide, introduces himself as Peter.
It was not until I picked up a ProPrint when I got home that I realised who Peter was – he never big noted himself as a PIAA board member or owner of one of the biggest businesses in SA.
We were talking about what we had seen on the PacPrint floor, and I mentioned that I had seen some gear and was thinking about buying it.
I went to that PacPrint not planning on buying anything, but my head was turned by a small Fuji Xerox machine, and an even smaller mailer I saw.
To this point I had never taken out a lease or bought a new machine. Everything in the shop came with the business when I took it over from my parents. I also had no experience with digital or mail.
To say I was terrified about borrowing money to jump into something I knew little about was an understatement.
I told Peter this, and he told me he had a bit of digital gear, and that it was the way things were going. He gave me a bit of advice about the realities of taking out a lease, and how the new gear could leverage growth for us.
He was not encouraging me to borrow wildly, or telling me to do anything stupid. He just took the time to calm the nerves of a younger and more inexperienced potential competitor.
It was only a brief conversation, probably no more than ten minutes. But I have always kept my ears wide open when talking to older and more experienced printers, and I went back to PacPrint the next day a lot more confident in my decision to take the risk.
From that conversation our digital and mailing work has grown to the point where on our biggest day we lodged more than two million pieces of mail. His was good advice.
I have not ever met or spoken with Peter again, and he would not know me from a bar of soap. But I have always been grateful for having run into him on that particular day, and for his calm and thoughtful advice. I have also always remembered the effect a generous and collegial attitude to other printers can have. I hope he enjoys his retirement.
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