It’s funny how we learn. Research tells us that 90% of our brain’s physical volume is already developed by the time we’re five years old. And anyone who has been a teenager knows how much kids think they know. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was all downhill from there.
To be honest, I’m consistently surprised by how much there is for me to learn every day, even after more than 20 years of running a company. We started in 1996 with three employees, and today our ranks have swelled to more than 500.
Letting Go of History
When SPC was still a small company, we weren’t worried about having the most brilliant people up and down our roster—we focused on growing hard workers who were committed to getting the job done. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t have smart people, because we did. It’s just wasn’t necessarily our goal. In a small organization, it was much easier to share intelligence and learnings quickly from one person to others, spreading knowledge around efficiently. What bound us together was a shared commitment to accomplishing our company goals. In this tight-knit family culture, everyone was tuned in and following the leader.
But the clock keeps ticking, and our business has grown significantly since those early years. What I didn’t realize back then was that the same intimate family culture that served us so well in the beginning didn’t scale for a company of our current size.
Recalibrating for Today and Tomorrow
With the help of our customers, key employees and a few trusted peers, I’ve truly come to understand the importance of creating an organization that can scale. Today, our company structure has been recalibrated, enabling us to thrive and continue growing. These new organizing principles will allow for continued expansion and more valuable relationships with our employees and clients alike. We did this in a way that was deceptively simple: By establishing the appropriate organization chart and filling it with the right people.
And that may just be one of my own biggest takeaways, which fuels something I’ve come to believe: Not only do people have to have the right skills and knowledge, but even more importantly, they need to be a cultural fit. And the higher up in the org chart a position, the more that person needs to lead and be the “culture creator” we are looking for. Keeping all of this in mind lets us put people in a position to succeed, so that their knowledge, skills and passions align in ways that help our customers and contribute to our business.
Re-envisioning Our Pressroom
SPC has now restructured our pressroom environment for scalable growth well into the future. We needed a larger infrastructure for sure, but also had to make sure that the people we’d chosen to fill those roles on the org chart had the leadership and commitment to bring our pressroom to the next level. We wanted our evolving culture to lead us even higher in our commitment to quality, our desire for continuous improvement and to encourage further advancement within the company for all of the employees in the pressroom.
Our search for a couple of our top pressroom leadership positions ended where it began—right inside our building. Two of our best and brightest are moving to positions of greater responsibility, remaking the culture for a company our size.
I’m excited to announce that Teresa Frederick has been named VP of Operations. She has been an essential part of the SPC team for three years, most recently as the Director of Lettershop Services. She will now be responsible for all three of our Niles, Illinois, production facilities: SPC headquarters (our litho print operation), SPC East (our lettershop operations) and SPC West (our brand-new facility that houses two of the most advanced inkjet printing devices on the market today—the Océ ProStream 1000 and Océ Varioprint 300).
Also, Jim Krueger has been named Director of Manufacturing for our headquarters. Jim came to SPC right out of college and left to gain a different perspective on the business. He returned to SPC a year ago and served most recently as SPC’s Director of Quality.
Looking to Tomorrow
Both Teresa and Jim have a tremendous track record of streamlining operations, standardizing processes and instilling a great sense of pride in our workforce at SPC. They both demonstrate the ability to lead by “creating culture,” and I’m so proud to have them on our team. This evolved culture is helping us become a scalable business that encourages quality, growth and opportunity—without sacrificing the family business culture that genuinely cares about our people.
There are still many lessons to learn in the journey ahead, but SPC will embrace them all with an appetite for the best kinds of change. Thanks to all of you who have helped us learn, grow and evolve in this crazy industry that we truly love.