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Spotlight: Deanne Sinclair of Cambridge Label


February 4, 2020
By PrintAction Staff

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Deanne Sinclair is an entrepreneur and proud owner of her family business, Cambridge Label Inc., a manufacturer of custom printed labels for food and beverage, pharmaceutical, industrial and medical applications for label resellers across Canada and the U.S. Having been raised by a family of entrepreneurs, Sinclair says she enjoys soaking up new information at every opportunity and possesses the ability to persevere when times are tough. She graduated from the MBA program at the Ivey School of Business at Western University in 2015.

PA: How is the state of the print industry?
DS: I view it as growing and dynamic, especially for young professionals looking to start a career. As a label and packaging printer, I’ve seen the demand for labels and packaging grow over the last 10 years. As you go about your daily routine, think about how many different products you interact with — all of them have labels or some form of printed packaging. I find when I encourage other millennials to think about this, it’s an eye-opening experience for them. Print is everywhere, and I don’t see it going away anytime soon. It’s the product’s label and packaging that sells it. Did you know the most important influence in a consumer’s buying decision is visual packaging? Fifty-eight percent of consumers choose what product they would like to buy based on what they see. Unfortunately, I think the younger generation has the misconception that print isn’t in demand, but I see the opposite.

PA: What attracted you to the print industry?
DS: I like that it is dynamic, fast-paced, and ever-changing. The technology is constantly evolving, and because of this, I feel like I am always learning. In the 10 years I have spent in print, I’ve witnessed the evolution of the digital label press and the impact this has had in the marketplace. When I started working at Cambridge Label, we didn’t even have a digital press! Crazily enough we only installed our first digital press in 2013, which isn’t even that long ago. It’s interesting to see how far we have come with digital print technology in the last six years and this constant evolution keeps work exciting. The other thing about this industry is that there aren’t many young people entering the marketplace, yet there are boomers looking to retire in the next five to 10 years. Those jobs need to be replaced, and I think this presents a great opportunity for anyone entering the industry who is looking for career growth.

My family has been in print for more than 35 years but to be honest, I never envisioned myself working in the family business. Growing up, my father had a strict “no family members as employees” policy, out of respect for his other business partners. It wasn’t until I had graduated from high school when he purchased the entirety of Cambridge Label that I was allowed to begin working with him. I started in production in the rewind department and quickly grew to love all of our team members and enjoy the fast-paced environment. There is never a dull or boring moment in print!

PA: How can we get more young people into print?
DS: I believe business leaders in our industry need to focus on recruiting and hiring the younger generation. If we do not look to recruit or hire young talent, we won’t introduce them to this amazing industry. I am responsible for all of our hiring, and I do not shy away from hiring someone who has no print experience. I look for a positive attitude, willingness to learn, and enthusiasm. If they possess these skills and seem like they would be a good fit, I will happily invest in whatever training is required to bring them up-to-speed, and I have attempted to do this in all areas of our business. I had a job posting for a customer service position about a year ago, and an applicant came in for an interview and said, “Wow, there are so many young people here, is this a permanent job or is this to cover off a maternity leave?” I took this as a compliment! We have had millennials who work for us tell their friends about how great this industry is, and we have since recruited some of their friends to join our team — it’s a snowball effect.

PA: You’ve previously said that part of Cambridge Label’s success is due to investing in your people. Please elaborate.
DS: We always aim to promote from within, and I think that is key to maintaining and satisfying your workforce. If I have an outside applicant with all the relevant skills and experience, and someone who has been on our team for a while who needs training but would be an excellent fit, I will always choose from our team first. Furthermore, if there is something I can invest in to make our employees’ jobs more comfortable, I will 100 percent explore it. As an example, we recently purchased standing desks for our office staff, and everyone was so appreciative and finds worklife much more enjoyable now. It’s the promoting from within and investing in a positive workplace that goes so far with staff, and that’s because my father and I do deeply care about our people.

PA: In this competitive landscape, how can printers win more sales?
DS: I think that people like doing business with people that they like and have a positive working relationship with. Despite how digital our world has become and how many people enjoy doing business online, I am a strong believer that the basic business principle of getting to know your customers and establishing relationships with them helps to win sales, especially when printing for the trade market like we do.

PA: What are some of the biggest opportunities you see in the industry?
DS: I think there are opportunities in producing shrink sleeve labels as well as flexible packaging. In 2019, Cambridge Label invested in the equipment to produce shrink sleeve labels — maybe we’ll get into producing other forms of flexible packaging, such as pouches, one day. Shrink sleeve labels are printed on a thin plastic material that wraps around the entire perimeter of a product and conforms to the package’s shape. This is emerging as a desirable form of product labelling because they are aesthetically pleasing, and their ability for 360-degree graphics helps the product attain a high impact presentation on the store shelf. This already established market is a $13.2-billion market, with an expected growth rate of 5.5 percent in 2020, according to MarketsandMarkets research. They are technically challenging to produce, but I’m up for the task! They are used a lot in the beer label market because a shrink sleeve gives the illusion that the can was direct-printed. We ventured into the shrink sleeve market last year, and have learned a lot and are continuing to learn and I see this as a good growth market for us.

PA: What to you is the most exciting thing about print today?
DS: The most exciting thing about print today, and every day, for me is the constant evolution in equipment and technology. It is so exciting to see the new developments that improve our product offerings, quality, and speed-to-market for our customers. I also enjoy investing in new technology because I want to drive the company forward and provide opportunities for our people. If you’re not moving forward and embracing the new technology, you’re not serving your customer base and you’re moving backwards!

A condensed version of this Q&A was originally published in the January/February 2020 issue of PrintAction, now available online.