TLMI & Surviving the Great Recession

INDIAN WELLS, CA | Frank Gerace (MultiColor Corp.), chairman of the Tag & Label Mfrs. Inst., Gloucester, MA, set the tone for the annual converter meeting March 7-10 themed “You Survived the Great Recession, Now What?” Held at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Gerace remarked it was fitting to hold the meeting at a desert oasis where they could discover ways to grow personally and professionally and apply it to their businesses.

Offering positive insight on the economy, Peter Ricchiuti of Tulane Univ's A.B. Freeman School of Business shared information that many felt was like a soothing balm on wounds still burning from what feels like an incendiary recession. As founder and director of research of Burkenroad Reports, Ricchiuti delivered a presentation unlike any other I have heard on the present confounding economy. His delivery shared all the hallmarks of a brilliant financial Robin Williams routine, complete with parenthetical and often stinging commentary, acerbic wit, and perfect timing. As introduced by meeting chairperson Brian Gale (I.D. Images), he is indeed the professor we all wished we could have had in college.

Jason Jennings, founder of media consultancy Jennings-McGlothlin & Co. and author of Hit the Ground Running, was invited to reveal the tactics and strategies of the ten American CEOs who have created the greatest amount of economic value over the course of the past decade.

Jennings shared results of a study performed on more than 72,000 companies out of which only 20 companies grew organically every year for ten years. The best company in the world, it was determined, was Nucor Steel, based in Charlotte, NC, which nurtured more than 25,000 steel workers who earned an average of $125,000 per year. The company has claimed it has never had a layoff for lack of work.

Thomas Winninger, founder of Winninger Resource Cos., gave a presentation aptly named “Creating Distinctive Value: Building Your Business from the Outside In.” Winninger offered a marketing checklist for creating distinctive value:

  • Lead the field by focusing on the real customer; get rid of the 6% that aren't.
  • Command position by focusing on programs — not price and items.
  • Command attention by branding key functions.
  • Create value by pricing the value gap.
  • Identify alternatives by defining the destination in order to adopt a strategy.
  • Sustain growth by turning your company into a community of growth. Grow your people.

Questions & Answers

Closing the day's program was a panel Q&A session titled: “Converting 401, Lessons from our Peers.” Meeting chair Gale posed questions to the roundtable of experienced label converters, featuring Joel Carmany of Consolidated Label Co.; Frank Gerace of Multi-Color Corp.; Michael Falco of Topflight; and Dave McDowell of McDowell Label & Screen Printing.

Among the topics addressed included how to deal with maintaining and improving employee morale; internal metrics that are used to measure business; how to keep sales on track; what kind of progress companies are making with social marketing through Facebook, for example; how to handle past due accounts; and how to hire employees who think like owners.

Eugene Singer & World Label Awards

In the evening, a reception honored winners of the Eugene Singer Awards as well as World Label Awards. The Singer Awards went to the following companies, recognizing excellence in business management measured and defined by an established set of growth and profitability ratios:

  • Coast Label Co., Fountain Valley, CA: small company category, defined by annual sales of less than $6 million.
  • Kopco Graphics, Fairfield, OH: mid-range company category, defined by sales of $6-$14 million.
  • The Label Printers, Aurora, IL: medium company category, defined by sales of $15-$35 million.
  • Consolidated Label, Longwood, FL: large company category, defined by sales greater than $35 million.

World Label Award winners include the following: Taylor Made Labels, Lake Oswego, OR; McDowell Label & Screen Printing, Plano, TX; Collotype Labels, a Multi-Color Corp., Napa, CA; CL&D Digital, Hartland, WI; and Dow Industries, Wilmington, MA. McDowell Label & Screen Printing also was awarded an honorable mention.

Mergers & Aquisitions

A final presentation on the last day of the meeting featured Elisha Tropper, president of T3 Assoc., on the subject of “Mergers and Acquisitions: Does It Make Sense for My Business.” As the former president of Prestige Label Co., Tropper understands first-hand the challenges of the label industry. He offered advice on how to create and enhance financial opportunities and initiatives while minimizing business risk.

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