Experience Speaks: James E. Hammer

  • President & CEO of Hammer Packaging

  • Management style | You have to do what you say you will do

  • Personal motto | Lead, don't follow

  • What do you enjoy most about your job? Growing our business successfully in a hyper-competitive environment and sharing the successes with the entire Hammer team.

  • What is the key to growing business in a bad economy? Be flexible and remember that you can't steal second base with one foot on first.

  • What is the biggest threat to the converting industry right now? The cost of capital to invest in evolving technology. Without new technology investments, global customers will shift more production to Asian-based converters with lower converting costs.

  • What keeps you up at night? Being able to profitably and strategically grow our business in a world of hyper-competitive global manufacturing (grow or die theory).

  • What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were first starting out in this business? Strategic planning is key.

  • What is the best advice you ever got? Quality is not a given.

  • What do you do for customers that makes them want to come back and do business with you again? Hammer's brand is best communicated by the word “adaptable” and by “doing whatever it takes” to satisfy the customer.

  • How do you handle a difficult customer? Feedback — both positive and negative — is very important to the continuous improvement process of our business operations. If we encounter a difficult customer, the process starts with a Quality Feedback Record being generated for each formal customer complaint. A root cause analysis is performed and a corrective action plan is implemented. We work with the customer to understand their needs and come up with a resolution that will work for both parties.

  • Have any management or business books influenced you? In addition to the company values, I continually emphasize the inevitability of change at Hammer. I use Spencer Johnson's book — Who Moved My Cheese? — to make this point. We provide each new associate with their own personally signed copy. Change is important at Hammer for a number of reasons. For one, it encourages associates to think “outside the box” when they try to solve problems or satisfy the customer. Second, we recognize that to succeed long term, the company will need to evolve. This means that associates need to adapt their skill set correspondingly. I like to say, “You will not be doing in five years what you are doing today!” One of our common euphemisms is: “The cheese is moving!”

About Hammer Packaging

  • 200 Lucius Gordon Dr., Rochester, NY 14692; 585-424-3880

  • www.hammerpackaging.com

  • Founded 1912; 3 plants; 403 employees

  • Specialization | High quality, multi-color package printing with a focus on labels and product decoration

What's your motto? Share your perspective. Write to yolanda.simonsis@penton.com.


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