Joe Carte joins our sales team at SPC, after spending time at both Precision Dialogue and Lehigh Direct growing direct marketing and integrated marketing business. We’re excited for Joe to join our squad and quizzed him on his first impressions of SPC and what the future looks like from his vantage point.
SPC: What piqued your interest in joining the SPC team?
JC: There wasn’t just one thing, but an entanglement of a several factors I really keyed on. I have always been intrigued by the family environment of SPC, but when I saw their commitment and investment in leading-edge innovation from an equipment standpoint, I was super excited. Then, I noticed the shift in culture that had been happening within the company, and that helped seal the deal. Additionally, Ryan LeFebvre and I have a shared passion for bringing young people into the print industry. SPC’s commitment to a youth movement–by connecting with colleges and universities through forums, speaking engagements and internships—aligns with what is important to me. All of those factors combined with the family environment and I was blown away.
What is your 10,000 foot view of SPC from the outside?
Looking back over the years, I viewed SPC as a down and dirty inline provider that was dipping its toes into digital, sheetfed and offline finishing. As the years have gone by—wow, has that changed! That toe has dipped pretty deep! That is a testament to the leadership of the company investing not only in equipment, but also quality people.
How did you get started in the printing industry?
My brother, Jason, was a graduate of the Western Michigan University Print Management Program. When I was struggling to figure out what I wanted to do in my first year of college, he helped connect me to the print program. I loved it from day one and have never looked back. I had the opportunity to be hands-on in classes and labs, along with the added benefit of being employed in the Printing Pilot Plant. This let me work on gravure and flexo presses doing industry testing and demonstrations for the classes I would eventually be taking. This was also my introduction to the Lefebvre family, as Ryan and I were a year apart in the program.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the printing and direct mail marketing industry?
This might sound like a stock answer, but it really is an exciting time. Looking back 10 years ago, I was afraid I wouldn’t have a long career in this business. But direct marketing has changed so much in that time. Output devices have evolved to usher in a world in which the physical and the digital environment truly work together to create high-quality data-driven products. I had the good fortune to spend much of the past seven years exposed to the database, services and technologies side of the business. These areas are so important to understand, as they are driving the outputs today and into the future. Although the print industry is shrinking overall, I feel direct mail is in a strong position to continue to develop. As high volumes are replaced or supplemented by data-driven opportunities, I think we find ourselves in an exciting stretch.
What do you bring to SPC?
I believe I bring a passion for the industry and work ethic that will help to drive SPC to the next level of success. I intend to bring a marketer’s mindset and a printer’s expertise to help SPC and our customers’ business grow together.
Do you have a focus or a type of project you really enjoy working on?
I like diversity. Every day can be a little different. I hope that customers lean on me for the difficult concepts that their creatives come up with. I hope that customers look to me for the simple format that needs just as much attention because the data that drives it is complex or the timeline they need is nuts.
What are some of your outside interests?
I love biking! Right now I’m preparing to do the Zoo-De-Mack bike ride through Northern Michigan with my wife. I mostly ride in the city but recently got a “fat tire bike” and started riding in the snow, which was amazing. I also am a big dog lover. My wife, Jen, and I have two dogs. Ivy is a 4-year-old Staffy and Chibs is a 2-year-old Rottweiler. Other than that, we just like to enjoy the outside. You can often find us walking up and down the Woodward Corridor or sitting on a patio enjoying food and drinks.
You are the Vice President of Western Michigan University’s Print Advisory Board Committee. What stokes your passion for helping this print program?
It’s driven by the experiences I had as a young person going through WMU’s print program. Along with my opportunities at school, I had two excellent internships that gave me much-needed exposure to the business of printing and amazing mentors. When you are going to class learning the building blocks, you don’t necessarily know what you are going to do for a living.
Personally, I want to help pay forward the great opportunities I had by helping improve the program that I came out of. To do that, kids need to understand all the things that this industry has to offer. From a career standpoint, the program’s flexibility is undervalued and I want to help change that. Grads can have careers as a researcher, prepress operator, in facility operations, print buying, sales and a whole lot of other areas. On top of that, if you layer on the different industries within print—direct mail, commercial print, packaging, digital research, it just goes on and on. We have a responsibility to these next generations—to expose them to all of these opportunities, which will help keep this industry thriving well into the future.
What is the best single piece of business advice you have ever received?
I have two that I would like to share, both of which I received in my first few days of sales.
My first week in sales a customer gave me a piece of advice that I use every day. He told me, “Never speak negatively of my competitors. Always sell from a positive perspective.”
Along those same lines, during my first day working in sales, another client made a small comment that stuck with me, as it makes sense in both business and life. “Be honest,” he said. “Honesty can sometimes be a much harder discussion, but that pain ends much quicker than if you lie.” I have always thought of myself as an honest person so I didn’t think much of it. But as I progress in life, I find daily opportunities like that—to take the easy road or the hard road. I try to employ both of those both professionally and personally. Some days are easier than others, but both hold incredibly true. That was a pretty important week for me, I guess!
Strategic Accounts Executive