Precision Printing CEO Q&A

Gary Peeling, CEO Precision Printing

Precision Printing is going from strength to strength in the industry. Founded in 1966, the UK business is today one of the leading providers of printing services and business stationery. To mark its more than 50 years in business, we sat down with Gary Peeling to share his insider knowledge.

Can you describe your position at Precision Printing? Where did your career start?

As CEO, I lead the executive team. In a week, I’d say I spend around 50% of my time looking at marketing, sales and business development; 20% on operational efficiency; 15% on finance; and about 10% on HR and staff.

What’s an average day for a Precision Printing CEO?

Every day is different at Precision Printing, but I’m someone who always likes to get up and going early. Usually, I rise at 7am and do out-of-work tasks. After this, I’ll walk the production floors to make sure that everything is running smoothly. This is better than any dashboard or report, as you can see what projects we’re on, which customers we’re busy with, and the types of products that are selling well.

As soon as I’m happy with everything on the floor, I go to my desk to look over our ecommerce channels and check our finances. I usually also use the quiet time to complete more complex cost and business proposals, or analytical and planning work. Afterwards, I check all of my emails and this is often followed by a few of meetings — usually, there’s one away from our premises and two or three conducted on our site. As a rule, I finish work at about 6:30pm.

Are there any industry challenges that stand out to you?

I’m always having to dispel the theory that digital is forcing print companies out of business. This isn’t the case, but many believe that physical printing will be replaced with digital formats and this has resulted in reduced demand and margin pressure based on perceived value.

Have things improved?

The thing that not many people realise is that print is evolving and certainly not weakening. As digital marketing costs rise and the channels become busier, printing is starting to look like a remarkably good-value alternative.

Who are your main role models in business, if you have any?

There are many people I admire in the industry, but someone who stands out to me is Alon Bar Shany — the general manager at HP Indigo. He’s ran a revolution in digital printing and managed a massive global business, yet still somehow makes time to meet and know most of his significant customers.

If you gave advice to an aspiring CEO, what would it be?

Being lazy is not an option. This job position needs someone who is always creative and forward-thinking, so don’t stand still. Believe it or not, every business slowly dies as soon as it launches.

How about tips for people wanting to work in print?

If you can understand different business industries, print is going to be perfect for you. This industry revolves around changing technologies, imagination, fresh ideas, and producing pioneering products —there’s never a dull second. I’d also say, always remember that the secret to opportunities is taking them.

If you could tell people one thing about the print industry, what would it be?

There are many parts of our sector that other professionals and members of the public don’t know about. For example, when new technologies are monetised in our sector, these usually include printing and graphic arts. Apple Mac, Digital Photography and e-commerce are three instances of this.

And lastly, can you tell us your main Precision Printing highlights?

As a company, I think we were all very proud when we received the UK Print Company of the Year award in 2007, and when we managed to distribute 50,000 orders in just one day. Personally, parts of my career that stand out are when I was chosen as Dscoop: Global Chairman and when we launched “Oneflow” software as a commercial business.

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