March 24, 2023 By PrintAction Staff
Cober, Kitchener, Ont., is one of Canada’s leading print manufacturers. When Gord Saray, Cober’s long-time sales and marketing director, decided to retire, Cober tapped its consumer-driven sales lead, 40-year-old Rachel Crowther, for the big role. Congratulations, Crowther, on the promotion! We decided to pick her brains on the state of the print industry.
What is the state of the print industry today, in your opinion?
RC: I think the landscape is ever evolving, and that’s a good thing. Print is always founded in traditional applications. However, advancements in literally every facet of the industry—from streamlined manufacturing practices and automation to technology and diversified product channels—is forcing continual growth.
What attracted you to the print industry?
RC: Honestly, it was by chance. My professional background was in a completely different ecosystem. I knew the Cober team through a previous partnership. I clumsily fell into the industry but learned very quickly that the force behind Cober was fierce and dedicated and I wanted to be a part of it. Luckily, they were kind enough to keep me around.
How can the industry attract more young people?
RC: I think the industry is an incredibly exciting, fresh, and innovative landscape for new talent and it’s simply about engaging on a level that resonates. Print is powered by progressive technology and, if you’re lucky, supported by exciting brand partnerships. That’s worth talking about. At Cober, we continue to innovate through technology, investments and cross-functional partnerships. Our team speaks to the industry with legitimate and honest, palpable energy, which translates to talent, regardless of industry or age.
In such a competitive landscape, how can printers win more sales?
RC: We are working to reframe the word, ‘sales,’ in our vocabulary. We can all sell something. We are focused on a larger conversation around partnerships and how we can better support the relationships that have allowed us to flourish. We want to show up for the clients and industry partners—current and future—who trust us and provide those relationships value that goes beyond the transactional. At the end of the day, it’s people working with people. So, we celebrate diverse behaviours and ideas, within our team and with our clients. With our mantra of “stay humble, work hard and be kind,” one can’t go wrong.
What are some of the biggest opportunities in the print industry?
RC: Just like the rest of the world, print is powered by technology. Investing in a progressive infrastructure, be it on the shop floor, with your internal talent, or via the systems and programs you create to streamline workflows, smart technology supports solid business. At Cober, we are incredibly fortunate to have teams that respect the place technology has in our business. It has been a game-changing factor in our growth. We also must talk about sustainability, and not just about the ink on paper, but how the business functions. It’s hands down a complicated exploration, but it’s a conversation that must be had. Businesses and consumers are demanding it. If you can figure out how to make that an honest part of your organization’s MO, and thus understand the value that can add to the partners you support and, potentially, their end users, then you’re checking a lot of boxes.
What do you think is the most exciting thing about print today?
RC: Print is more accessible than it has ever been before. It is literally at your fingertips with one click, a face ID, or thumb print. This is true for both businesses and individual consumers. A massive portion of the opportunities available within the industry can be purchased from couches and kitchen tables. With the strides being made in SaaS and AI, print is no longer a docket-driven economy. It is powered by consumers, progressive online brands, and leadership teams who are willing to step outside their comfort zone and think about the physical differently, which is exciting.
Crowther’s responses were edited for length. For more Q&A Spotlight interviews, please visit www.printaction.com/profile.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of PrintAction.
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