• 5 minutes with… Gary Peeling, CEO, Precision Printing

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    Precision Printing, an innovator in the print technology industry and leading supplier of litho printing, is one of the most respected companies in the sector. But, how do you manage one of the top printing companies in the UK? Here to share his insider knowledge and advice on all things print is the firm’s group CEO, Gary Peeling…

    Can you tell us how you get started in print?

    Yes, I began as Precision Printing’s teaboy! And that must have been about 30 years ago.

    If we were to take on your role, what would a normal day at Precision Printing look like?

    Rising early and getting started is really important to me and helps me get on with my work throughout the course of the day. To start, I’ll walk the production floors to make sure that everything is running smoothly. This is better than any dashboard or report, as you can see what projects we’re on, which customers we’re busy with, and the types of products that are selling well.

    Obviously, checking how our business is doing is vital, too. So, after walking the floors, I review our ecommerce channels. Often, I also use the quiet time to complete more complex cost and business proposals, analytical or planning work. Then, I check all of my emails and usually follow this with a few meetings — often, there’s one away from our premises and two or three conducted on our site.  I tend to finish work at about 6:30pm.

    How do you relax after work?

    Family time and separating my mind from work is, of course, important. We enjoy doing things together, and I also love cycling, travelling the world and listening to Billy Joel!

    Do you know any industry secrets you can let us in on?

    I think readers would be surprised by how fast-changing print is and how much there is to learn. An insider view of print, that many people don’t know about, could be the monetising of emerging technologies, which often includes printing and graphic arts. Good examples of this are e-commerce, digital photography and Apple Mac.

    What is it like being a CEO?

    At the heart of my job, is the task of leading the executive teams. In a normal week, I dedicate around 50% of my time to analysing and reviewing marketing, sales and business development. Aside from that, I spend about 20% of my time on operational efficiency, 15% on finance and 10% on HR and staff.

    Are there any role models in the sector that you admire?

    Being in my position, I have decent knowledge of people in my industry and think it’s important to keep an eye on their careers and decisions. One gentleman that I find particularly inspirational is Alon Bar Shany, HP Indigo’s general manager. He’s somebody I really admire. Alon Bar Shany ran a revolution in digital printing and managed a massive global business, yet still somehow makes time to meet and know most of his significant customers.

    Do you have any advice you can share with us about being in the print industry or working as a CEO?

    Harbouring a creative flair and being able to adapt and change with each new trend is critical to anyone’s survival in the print sector. Believe it or not, every business slowly dies as soon as it launches. Also, don’t think that it’s ever too late or too complicated to do something — it rarely is.

    I’d recommended keeping up to date with advances in tech if you want to excel in print, too. Print is versatile and dependent on new technologies, so being creative, marketing fresh ideas, and producing innovative products. If you can understand different business industries, print is going to be perfect for you.

    What are the main problems that the print industry is facing?

    It surprises me that people today have such reservations about the longevity and capabilities of the print sector. So, dismissing the myths that print is obsolete is a slight issue for use at the moment. Many believe that physical printing will be replaced with digital formats and this has resulted in reduced demand and margin pressure based on perceived value.

    But are things improving?

    Well, print is certainly prospering, so hopefully people will start recognising that it isn’t a dying industry. As digital marketing costs rise and the channels become busier, printing is starting to look like a remarkably good-value alternative.

    Lastly, would you give us your Precision Printing highlights?

    As part of Precision Printing for such a long time, there have been many stand-out moments that I cherish. Firstly, I’d say sending out 50,000 orders in just one day was a massive achievement for us. Next, receiving the UK Print Company of the Year award in 2007 was a very proud moment. After these, I’ll never forget when I was selected to be Dscoop: Global Chairman, and was delighted when we launched our “Oneflow” software as a commercial business.

    AUTHOR

    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien