November 22, 2017
David Peterson, Managing Partner of Plastics and Flexible Packaging had the opportunity to interview Todd Blumsack, VP Business Unit Web Fed NA of BOBST Group North America. Mr. Blumsack covered background on his career, helpful advice for sales and marketing professionals, and insights on trends in the industry.
Please tell us about yourself.
I am a family person, and my favorite thing to do is spend time with my family. In my free time, I enjoy mechanical and electrical involved hobbies. I work on my boat’s engines and electronics, from a basic level to more advanced rebuild work. I also take the same approach with my home and car; wherever possible, I do the home maintenance myself while trying to teach my children what I learned from my father. Fishing and working out take the balance of my free time. I travel a great deal for work as well as work a great deal of hours, and working out is good for my physical and mental state.
What was your motivation to pursue a career in the printing industry?
The public school system I went to offered courses in all sorts of technical areas, and my first experience with photography and graphic arts fascinated me. All aspects of cameras, darkrooms, and printing press were interesting to me. I liked imagery/photography but had zero artistic abilities. The graphic arts field enabled me to see images come alive on the page without the need for artistic skills. My other passion was electronics and mechanics, and the ability to work with, operate, and repair the various equipment was enjoyable. I had the opportunity to go to college at R.I.T and pursue this passion. Upon graduation, I wanted to go into sales and/or marketing, but the overall market was not good at the time. I was offered a more technical position from the company I co-oped with. The position turned out to be excellent, and the company eventually offered me a sales position. From that position, I moved into marketing, sales management, and then to managing both groups.
With over 24 years of experience in marketing and sales, what would you consider to be the most important lesson learned in your career?
The most important lesson is to be open-minded and always improve my knowledge and skills in both sales and marketing. Like all else in life, sales and marketing evolve. The methods to accomplish both change and improve, and if you are not learning, you are going backwards. I believe in Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – Habit 7. We all need to stop and sharpen the saw to do our jobs effectively. When we are in a profession and we are not looking to grow and improve, we are not doing ourselves and those we work with justice.
BOBST uses the phrase, “People – Knowledge and Values” to describe itself. As VP, Business Unit Web-Fed, what do you do to make sure you are exemplifying these 3 facets in your leadership style?
“People – Knowledge and Values” are important to the Bobst culture along with Trust, Respect, Passion and Performance. Everyone at Bobst does their best to live by this. I try to be there in every way for those I work with. I trust they are working hard, doing their best and then ask each one “What can I do to help you succeed?” or “How can I work on internal issues to enable you to do your job better?”. Success is a team effort, and being part of a team means WE succeed as a team. If WE have issues, WE work through the issues as a team. “I” is not a positive way to work with others. We all need to give credit to the team and not take credit for the team’s work.
What new and innovative projects are you currently working on?
Bobst Web Fed is working on promoting automation in the conventional, non-digital printing, area. We are incorporating HD Cameras and RFID technology to enable customers to setup and operate various types of conventional printing equipment easier and faster.
What trends do you expect to see in printing in the next 5 years?
Trends are both in the digital printing area and automation area. We will see more robotics and digital printing as part of the various printing solutions. I believe conventional printing will remain in the printing/packaging world, but digital will become stronger in the areas that need shorter runs or personalization. SKU proliferation will continue, as people want products more aligned with their individual needs. This will drive how printing/packaging evolves.
What is the biggest challenge you are seeing in your industry or the manufacturing industry in general?
Our industry is very manufacturing oriented. A big challenge is talent for both packaging manufacturers and suppliers to the packaging manufacturers. We need skilled talent to operate the equipment. The equipment is evolving with technology and the talent to train, install and repair the equipment is in demand. Getting the word out that the packaging industry is high tech and offers a great career needs to be spread.
What advice would you give to professionals looking to break into a successful career in sales and marketing?
Chose an industry that truly interests you. In sales and marketing, you are dealing with people and you need to relate to and understand the people and the market. If you do not posses and show real interest and passion, you will not succeed. Secondly, work very hard. I deal with individuals with varying education and experience, and what sets successful people apart from the rest is hard work.
What traits do you think define leadership?
I believe leadership should be earned, not given. As a leader, you need to show the people you work with trust, respect, passion, morals and care about those you work with. In addition, you should not expect anyone to do something you are not willing to do yourself. One final key is to admit when you are wrong or made a mistake. Nobody is perfect; I have and continue to make mistakes. I just try to learn from my mistakes.
Describe the approach you take to attracting and retaining high impact talent at BOBST.
Attracting and retaining talent is key to success. A company is nothing without the talent. Understand what the person you are trying to attract is motivated by and try and put some of those elements into the position. Some people like to travel and some do not, altered work hours, compensation elements outside of salary, and just the need to be part of a new team are some of the areas that can drive talent to your company. Finally, be honest and let the prospective employee know both the good and the not so good.
What or who has motivated and influenced you to be successful in your career? Have you had mentors?
Many people have influenced me in my career, some good and some not so good. First, would be my parents. They instilled hard work, education, and the ability to finish a day and be happy when you look in the mirror. Early on in my career, like many others, my confidence got in my way. I was put in my place early in my career, and shown the correct way to handle myself in a business environment. In the middle of my career a peer who became my mentor/manager/friend showed me how to present and build industry relationships. Lastly, a manager who became a friend, then peer gave me my first management position, helped me grow in my career and acknowledge my strengths and weaknesses’ so I could continue to improve and grow. A great mentor has the ability to tell you your strengths and weakness, and point you in a direction to improve.
Managing Partner of Plastics and Flexible Packaging
Tuesday, October 17th, David Peterson, Managing Partner of Plastics and Flexible Packaging was a featured presenter on a packagingPRINTING Educational Webinar! The webinar was titled ‘How to Find, Train and Retain High Value Employees’ and was inspired by a growing concern that hiring managers in the packaging and printing world are finding it challenging to hire and retain top talent. David covered Millennials in the workforce, and beneficial ways to attract, hire, and retain this talent, while Tom Brennan, Chair of the Communication Arts Department at Chowan University covered the topic of Training employees.
April 11, 2017
By David Peterson, Managing Partner and Director of Plastics and Flexible Packaging
At the end of March, I had the great opportunity to attend and speak at the Plastics News Executive Forum at the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, Naples, Florida. As it was my first time attending, I want to note that Plastics News did a great job coordinating this conference, which offered strategies, presentations, and networking opportunities for leaders of top plastics processing companies.
Aside from the sunshine and beautiful scenery, the Plastics News Executive Forum impressed me from the speakers, to the great conversations about the industry. The theme of the conference this year was “Engage. Inspire. Lead.” and the agenda stayed consistent with that, buzzing with conversation regarding the Plastics workforce, retention, and talent in the industry. For example, Laurie Harbour, President/CEO of Harbour Results Inc., shed a light on the top challenges for Plastics Processors in 2017, sharing that 92% say their top challenge is recruiting, training and retaining employees. Part of the reason for this could be the decrease of Plastics Engineer professionals. This is something that was discussed often throughout the conference, along with the ways companies can contribute to solving that issue. For example, the Best Places to Work Panel gave great ideas for retention, with one being a “bring your parents to work day.”
For me, the conference was especially exciting as I had the honor of presenting! My topic was “How to Attract and Retain a New Generation of Workers” and primarily focused on Millennials and what we can do as companies to bring them into the Plastics Industry and keep them there. Again, this fell in line with most of the buzz at the conference. It was a great experience to speak at this event! Plastics News wrote an article highlighting my presentation here: Solving the Millennial Riddle
The Plastics News Executive Forum was a great event and a great experience this year. I’m looking forward to next year’s event! If you were at the event, what did you enjoy the most?
Managing Partner and Director of Plastics & Flexible Packaging
August 23, 2016
By David Peterson, Managing Partner, DRI
Today more than ever, we see candidates accept a new position that really excites them but when their new employer is ready to schedule the start date, the candidate delays it.
In one particular case, our client extended a job offer to their perfect candidate for the job. After accepting a job offer and being approved to start in two weeks, the candidate did not want to start for another 3 months. Obviously, this didn’t go over well with the hiring manager. However, they agreed to wait.
In another instance, a candidate wanted to wait 60 days before giving his current employer a two week notice due to a possible bonus. The bonus wasn’t a sure thing, but he was willing to take the chance. In this case, the hiring manager moved on to hire someone else who could start right away. Delaying the start date can be very risky. In fact, moving the start date at all is a red flag to employers that you aren’t serious about taking the job.
So why all the delays? Candidates have given a number of reasons such as a planned family vacation, time to decompress from past position, completing a current project, waiting for bonuses and/or commission as in the example above. If you have to delay your start date, there’s a right way to go about. It may take some negotiating.
Here are a few tips on how to handle negotiating a delayed start date for your new job:
- If you’re not able to start on the employers preferred start date, be careful how you discuss this. Don’t say you can’t start on that date but instead ask if there is room for negotiation.
- Be prepared to offer a solid reason as to why you have to postpone the start date. Then, ask if there’s any flexibility. Chances are that if it’s a valid reason, your new employer will work with you on a new date start.
- If there’s a previous commitment that you made and it’s on your calendar such as a planned vacation or destination wedding, most employers will understand. However, offer a reasonable start date in return. Sometimes offering your time for some training before the start date may help to bridge the gap and show your excitement about the new opportunity.
- Be ready for give and take. If your current employer has a policy of a 4 week notice rather than a 2 week notice, try and split the difference and stay 3 weeks. Your new employer will appreciate that you are trying to honor the requirement and leave on good terms. They will also appreciate the excitement this shows about starting your new job as soon as you tie up loose ends.
Have you ever delayed a start date? Tell us what happened.
It was definitely worth waiting 3 years for NPE 2015 in Orlando, Florida! We found it to be a great venue to learn about the latest technology, trends in the industry, and the strong need for young up and comers. After walking miles of aisles in the West and South Hall, David Peterson, Jason Toth, and I were amazed by what we saw and all indicators pointed to the boom happening in the Plastics industry. As executive search recruiters, we were excited to know that the present and future of the recruiting business is alive and well within the plastics industry. Now that it’s been a couple of weeks after the show and we’ve let it all sink in, we came up with few key takeaways… David Peterson, Practice Leader for the Plastics Practice, DRI Inc.:
- After talking with many individuals at different booths such as Davis Standard and Milacron at the show, it seemed the overall tone was very positive and the plastics business is very strong right now. With a record-breaking number of around 65,000 attendees, business seemed to be thriving and the evidence of an increasingly high hiring rate was found in the number of new searches our firm received.
- The buzz around the industry is that there is a need, especially in the machinery sector, to hire younger workers and begin developing future leaders within plastics. Organizations such as SPI (Society of the Plastics Industry) and SPE (Society of Plastics Engineers), were sponsors and encouraged internships and mentorships in order to build a strong new generation of plastics professionals.
- Additionally, another apparent increasing trend was the desire of companies to recruit sales talent with a technical background. Quite a few hiring managers expressed interest in individuals with a chemical engineering degree or sales engineer background to fill a territory where they required a new regional sales manager.
Jason Toth, Executive Recruiter in the Plastics Practice, DRI Inc.:
- COMPANIES ARE HIRING! There are a lot of open positions. How do I know? Well, because I asked. So what does this mean? It means we are very much in a candidate driven market and companies have to provide more compelling reasons why they are the best to work for. Remember in times of growth like these, candidates will be interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them.
- There is great potential for young professionals in this industry. They are a hot commodity. Nearly every hiring manager I talked to discussed the challenges they are facing as they focus on the future of their company. It was very encouraging to see SPI create a group like FLIP (Future Leaders in Plastics), providing a great environment and atmosphere that welcomed the up and comers.
Rachel Gulko, Executive Recruiter for the Plastics Practice, DRI Inc.:
- Strides in plastics industry since NPE 2012, are impressive. Just imagine the innovation that we’ll see over the next few years. Having the ability to see the technology in the plastics industry up close and personal is priceless. It is one thing to have a Sumitomo Demag injection molding machine or a Macchi blow molding machine described over the phone by someone that works at the company but to see them in action in a whole other experience.
- My perception of the plastics machinery is that of one big family. Even though everyone is technically competing, at the same time a lot of the companies rely on pieces and parts and sometimes whole systems from each other complete their product(s). That was so evident when entering the South hall where all the materials companies were. That’s we found all of the machines. Davis Standard, Wittman Battenfeld, and Arburg were just a few of the many used by all these material companies.
Fortunately, everyone gets the opportunity to once again experience all the innovation and excitement of the plastics industry at NPE 2018, hosted again in Orlando! We are looking forward to future positive hiring trends within plastics machinery and materials and what new technology is in store. It’s a great time for this industry and Direct Recruiters, Inc. Plastics Team who feel privileged and energized to be a part of it all.