Crown Connect’s youthful mindset is the key to longevity
By Denny Shorett
If you would have asked me a year ago to assess the state of our industry, I would have taken a much more positive tone. I could have gone on and on about how the economy had been a bigger boost to us than at any time before. We were confident. Our customers were confident. A year ago, there wasn’t any reason to think otherwise. Each of us was riding the wave, as they say.
Then, unexpectedly, our world changed in ways that nobody, anywhere saw coming. The blip, as too many found out that hard way, became a bump in the road that continues to impede our path forward. Today, after more than a year and counting operating under the restrictions and fear of what COVID-19 has done to our business and personal lives, we are facing a series of new challenges.
The question each of us ask now every day is, “How do I stay motivated and relevant to my customers?”
Riding a wave can cause you to become complacent. And, as history shows us time and time again, complacency doesn’t work—especially in the new world we’re operating in today. I’ve come to the conclusion that for our industry to survive these unprecedented times, it must become more innovative and focused on relevancy. We must, as an industry, continue to approach the future—and all of the blips, bumps and trends that come along—with a youthful mindset.
I’ve come to the conclusion that for our industry to survive these unprecedented times, it must become more innovative and focused on relevancy.
When I started this company in 1970, that approach was a given. I quickly learned that mastering the art of printing was the easiest part of building the foundation for a sustainable printing company. I also found that in itself that approach was not enough. To stay relevant, you must continue to stay one step ahead of the industry curve. That means keeping your mind open to the many new opportunities that the journey presents you. It means embracing and adapting to new technologies, understanding finances, adhering to government regulations, developing loyal customers and building the right team of employees.
Each of these tenets have been critical to the success of Crown Connect. Over the past five decades, we have built a reputation as one of Southern California’s premier commercial print and marketing solution providers. Our commitment to our mission is present in our promise of focused customer service, a commitment to creativity, innovative problem-solving and a clear communication process that is designed to earn our customers’ trust and respect.
Our success can be found in our three-tiered approach: Collaboration + Solutions = Results. As collaborators, we listen well. We fully understand our customers’ visions and objectives. Through clear and concise, two-way communication, we find the right formula to get the results our customers expect. As solution providers, we work with our customers to find the best fit for what they need, giving them every advantage to increase their return on investment. Together, the results help elevate our respective businesses and brands.
Fifty years down the road has given me a unique perspective into what it takes to build a business, surround myself with a dedicated team of professionals who can help carry out that vision, and find customers and partners willing to take a chance on our word.
New day, new challenges, new mindset
The younger me is not sure what he would have thought had he known a global pandemic would be the biggest challenge his company would ever face.
Over the years we’ve had our share of obstacles. Several recessions. A major terrorist attack on U.S. soil. An epic financial meltdown that brought our country to its knees. Still, these pale in comparison to a global pandemic.
As I reflect on what has happened, I am proud of the decisions I have made, namely being smart enough to have the best people in the industry on my side. Our employees have been—and continue to be—our biggest asset. Over and over again, having competent, well-trained and loyal employees is worth more than any technology can offer. And it will take more than a global pandemic to change that.
To stay relevant, you must continue to stay one step ahead of the industry curve. That means keeping your mind open to the many new opportunities the journey presents you.
A long time ago, years before the coronavirus made its presence felt, we saw how quickly our industry was changing. Instinctively, we knew that to survive this change, we would have to change, too.
For example, as technology evolved, many of our revenue-producing cost centers were eliminated or significantly reduced. So, even without losing a customer, our sales dollars declined as new innovative workflows were developed. But what do you do when revenue streams decline? Do you stick your head in the sand? Or, do you look for other ways?
A few years ago, when the industry faced the print service provider or marketing service provider fork in the road, we could have remained just a printer. We decided to become more than a printer (a path some of our colleagues declined to take). That meant embracing digital technology early. And what do you do with digital printing? You mail it. So we also invested in innovative data management and mailing systems.
Remember, our mission is—and has always been—to be relevant.
We also were early adopters of wide format printing, which became even more relevant when COVID-19 hit. Today, it is one of our busiest departments. We support the healthcare industry, educational systems and food suppliers, all of which had immediate needs for unique directional and notification signage. Our database management and mailing capabilities continue to play a huge role in supporting our customers’ special needs related to COVID.
Aside from our technological advantages, nothing has been as valuable during these troubling times as our loyal and dedicated production and management team. Without their positive attitudes and commitment to our customer needs, this unforgiving journey would have been impossible for us to navigate.
Because of the exceptional spirit our team shows every day in the face of their personal despair and sacrifices made by them and their families, we will overcome this.
Because of the exceptional spirit our team shows every day in the face of their personal despair and sacrifices made by them and their families, we will overcome this. We will continue to embrace the challenges, navigate the twists and turns, remain relevant and dedicated to our mission statement, and stay committed to giving our customers what they need, when they need it, for years to come.
Fifty years down the road, that type of youthful mindset—one where every day is a new day to embrace and conquer—is the path forward.
Denny Shorett, is the founder and CEO of Crown Connect in San Bernardino, California. A member of the Ben Franklin Honor Society of Printing Industries of America, Shorett has spent the past 50 years serving as a trusted partner and provider of innovative solutions for the print industry. He continues to serve the industry as a member of the board of directors of Printing Industry Association of Southern California (PIASC).