Experience Speaks: Don Earl

  • President of Overnight Labels Inc.
  • Recommending | Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • Management Style | Laissez faire
  • How did you get into the converting business? During college I made bar code labels for government contractors. Then I started to convert my own blank labels to feed the bar code machine. Then I taught myself how to print.

  • What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out? When I took accounting in college, they taught you how to credit people that took a 1% discount if they paid within ten days…nobody pays within ten days.

  • What's the best advice you ever got? Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.

  • What's the worst advice you ever got? It's business, not personal.

  • What is your key to retaining good employees? It's a combination of things: setting high goals/expectations, showing appreciation when goals are met, and being in tune with employee needs. You need a good balance to maintain a productive and positive work environment. I have very low unemployment — more demand than supply.

  • What is the key to growing a business in a bad economy? Pretend it's not a bad economy, and if you can't do that, work even harder than when it's busy.

  • What keeps you up at night with regard to your business? Making sure the work gets out on time and making sure we meet our obligations to our employees.

  • What sustainability efforts has your company made? We use all water-based inks and recycle our plate solvent. We're trying to transition our customers into eco-friendly substrates, and we have a program to track and reduce our own waste. We installed an evaporator to get rid of our waste water instead of having it carted. We also recently signed a contract to install more energy-efficient lighting in our plant.

  • What are you most proud of? My staff. They care about the customers, are highly skilled, and don't have individual agendas.

  • What advice would you give to someone starting out in this business? Be really good in math and science and have a sense of humor.

  • What is the biggest mistake you made? I bought a 10-in. in-line press from a company that I had previously purchased three stack presses from. I assumed their in-line would work as well as their stack presses…it didn't.

  • Who is your personal hero? My parents. They've been married 60 years. No matter how bad you screwed up, you always knew they loved you.

  • Do you have a personal motto? Do the best you can every day, but realize there's always room for improvement, and there's always somebody hungrier and better than you are.

  • What do you enjoy most about your job? The unique challenges every day of printing a challenging job and meeting deadlines. I love the intensity.

  • What does your company do for customers that makes them enjoy the experience of doing business with you? We care about their businesses, sometimes as much or more than they do.

  • How do you handle a difficult customer? It depends. Sometimes really well and sometimes not so well.

About Overnight Labels Inc.

  • 151-15 W. Industry Ct., Deer Park, NY 11729

  • www.overnightlabels.com

  • Founded in 1987; 1 plant; 30 employees

  • Specialty | Pressure-sensitive labels, flexible packaging, and shrink sleeves

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


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