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Why Capital Printing’s impact goes well beyond print

By Deidre Acord

People love to ask leaders what it’s really like to be in charge. What are the traits required to direct an organization’s people and resources, to be the one tasked with improving efficiencies and achieving goals. It’s a tough question. When you take leadership as a whole, you find there are so many different traits that define the true essence of the person leading the charge. Not only that, but everyone handles the mantle of responsibility differently.

Effective leaders provide clarity of purpose, motivate and guide their organizations and people to realize their missions and goals. Good leaders continually work to develop their skill sets, knowledge and experience in themselves and others. They are objective, fair and reasonable. Above all else, they must assume responsibility for their own actions as well as the actions of others.

What I have found in my place of leadership is that people want to be seen. They want to be acknowledged and heard. The path I try to follow each and every day is to treat people with respect, be respectful, listen and try to be encouraging. It’s not easy—not by a long shot. Full transparency, I have failed many times over the years. Often, it is the person you least expect who shows you the way to being a better leader—a better person.

Every moment for me is big when I can keep my clients. My moments are having relationships with my clients that have spanned over 20 years, helping them grow and be a part of the changes that occur in their business. It is fun when you get to be a part of the process, when you’re asked to be a part of the solution or be in the think tank, creating a print plan. I love those moments because they don’t happen often.

As a 90-year-old printer, Capital Printing has a long history of leadership—a chain of command that has pushed our legacy through a series of changing print landscapes. Each time, each leader has responded to the needs of our clients and the ever-demanding, ever-changing whims of the marketplace.

“As a 90-year-old printer, Capital Printing has a long history of leadership—a chain of command that has pushed our legacy through a series of changing print landscapes.”

As one of Austin, Texas’ first female-owned businesses, I hold the responsibility of leadership to not only succeed, but to do so with thoughtfulness, inclusion and empathy. Today, I am following in the footsteps of some really great women in our industry, including Faye Edwards, the previous owner of Capital Printing, former owner of Ginny’s Printing Elizabeth Bradshaw and McCarthy Print owner Terri McCarthy.

With that responsibility comes an even greater effort from the people I have surrounded myself with—a team that is as committed to the wellbeing of our company, our clients, our community and to each other. And my husband, Steve, who technically is my behind-the-scenes “sales manager.” His amazing spirit helps guide me, even when I’m wrong. These are, by far, the most vital resources any leader can have.

At Capital Printing, nobody is more important than anyone else. In the old days of the printing industry, the mantra used to be that sales were the kings and queens of the company. Not anymore; not here. Here, everyone is important. Everyone has a job to do. Each one of our team members has an expertise they bring to the table. We rely on each other.

When we tell our customers that, they not only hear it, but see it. They see a team atmosphere where everyone is included in the process. And let me tell you, when you have a team that is willing to take ownership in what’s at stake, you have winners.

Learning, growing along the way

I started in the print business in 1984 after I moved from Garden City, Kansas, to Austin. While looking for a job, I saw an ad in the newspaper for a receptionist at Austin Printing and Mailing, which was owned by the Wiswell family. I ended up working there for six years, until they sold the company to a group from Houston. It was not a good fit, so I searched elsewhere.

I eventually landed at CSI, which was a larger company that offered more opportunities. Digging into my new job, I honed my customer service skills. I also found myself surrounded by some of the best salespeople around. The owner, John Gray, had created his own print software, which he housed in a facility that included state-of-the-art mailing equipment, prepress and pressmen. It was a tight team.

After six years there (my magic number), I moved over to Wallace Engraving, where I began my training in color, color separations and the advent of Photoshop. Bob Vallilee was the one who believed in me, promoting me from customer service to outside sales. His mentorship helped me transfer from a “job” to a “career.” The experience changed my life.

By the time I came to Capital Printing Company, I was ready for the next phase of my career. I immediately met Faye Edwards, who led me through one of the toughest interviews I have ever had. She was tough, but so was I. Twenty-one years later and I am still doing what I love with people I love.

The Capital Printing way showed me the importance and power of the people you surround yourself with. They were loyal and committed, which was an easy path to follow. I know that is why I am still here—why I work and teach and lead the way I do. Through people like Lori Carlson, our prepress manager, I learned what was needed to manage projects and sales prospects. I further learned about the power of customer service—a tenet that is not just about doing what your customer wants, but teaching and making them part of the experience.

In 2005, when Danny Stockton bought our company, he set out to teach us the finer part of the sales process, honing in on the unique personas each of the salespeople possessed. When Michael Martin came along, he saw that we were one of the print industry’s hidden jewels. As Chief Customer Officer, he continues to bring our family together by making us feel like this is not just a place to work, but a place where your voice matters. We have a suggestion box that encourages our employees to tell us what we can do better. We celebrate and honor birthdays, sales milestones and personal accomplishments.

“Here, everyone is important. Everyone has a job to do. Each one of our team members has an expertise they bring to the table. We rely on each other.”

When people hear about the good things you do for your employees, it creates a buzz. Yes, we work hard. But we know how to have fun, too. And we know that we can only go as far as we can together—by respecting each other’s principles, space and commitment to the job.

Recently, our company approached the $3 million mark in sales—the first time in the history of our company. As I received the news, I was on my way to get donuts. It was donut day. After a span of putting out fires, hitting deadlines, and dealing with the daily spate of headaches, backaches and frustration, I was driving to get donuts. I thought, “Why am I doing this?” I am so busy and moving in 100 different directions. And donuts?

Why, you ask? It is similar to the first question about leadership. The why is in the fact that with everything going on, everyone could use a break. Donuts. Sure, it is about serving others—showing them that what they do matters.

Everything makes a difference.

Deidre Acord is the VP of Sales for Capital Printing Company. Founded in 1929, the Austin, Texas-based printer offers a wide variety of services, including pre-press, offset and cutting edge digital printing, custom finishing, mailing, fulfillment and distribution.