Experience Speaks - June 2009

Greg Smith

  • President of Printed Specialties Inc.
  • Management style | Flexible
  • Goal | To be a world-class manufacturer
  • How did you get into the converting business? It's in the blood. My great-grandfather started the business in 1907, incorporated it in 1911. My family never was smart enough to get out.

  • What is the key to retaining good employees? Make sure everyone knows that the decisions they make every day affect the business. Treat everyone like grownups. No challenges beyond the same that everyone else faces.

  • What do you enjoy most about your job? Customers.

  • What do you enjoy least? Customers that don't like to pay.

  • How do you handle a difficult customer? Be flexible and try to understand what they need done.

  • What's the best advice you ever got? Buy land with water on it, and sometimes say yes when everyone else says no.

  • What is the worst advice you ever got? Don't do something you might regret. Without the threat of regret, there is no risk. Without risk, no reward.

  • What sustainability efforts has your company made? FSC and SFI certifications, and we work with an Outward Bound school that recycles some of our discarded pallets into furniture. Any little thing we can do, we try. When someone says, “Don't sweat the small stuff,” I laugh. It's the small stuff that adds up and hopefully leads to a sustaining business practice.

  • What is the biggest mistake you made, and how did you fix it? We make mistakes every day, but the most important thing about a mistake is acknowledging the issue and then finding a solution in the shortest amount of time. The key is to have systems in place that minimize the splash of a mistake. If a person enters an incorrect quantity, do we have systems in place that can help the person catch that mistake before it enters the workflow?

  • What makes you proud? We try to build a sense of accomplishment with everyone that works here so they are able to take pride in what they did during the day.

  • What keeps you up at night? Where will the new business come from?

  • What is the key to growing a business in a bad economy? No different than in a good economy. Constant prospecting, knowing your limitations, and selling your strengths. It always seems we get busier in bad economies because people are more willing to listen to something new that might help them solve problems in the short term. Long term, you need to find a way to leverage that short-term opportunity into a long-term gain.

  • What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out in business? No one has any secret formula; everyone is operating basically from the same perspective.

  • What is the biggest threat to the converting industry right now? Overcapacity and people making dumb decisions.

About Printed Specialties Inc.

  • 5200 Columbia Dr., Carrollton, GA 30117; 770-832-1341
  • www.printedspecialties.com
  • Founded 1911; 1 plant; 45 employees
  • Specialty | Paperboard packaging

How do you handle a difficult customer? Share your perspective. Write to yolanda.simonsis@penton.com.


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