Gary Peeling is group CEO at major UK printing company, Precision Printing. Celebrating over 50 years in the industry, the company’s success is ever-growing even in an increasingly digital world. So, how does the firm, which is a leading provider of book print services and other print solutions, compete against digital platforms and other challenges? Below CEO Today gains expert insight on the intricacies of the printing sector, an industry that, despite all things digital, is still a crucial part of every business worldwide.
Can you describe your typical day at work?
The print sector and my job role are both quite demanding, so getting up and started early is important for me. Once I tick off any out-of-work tasks, 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 the projects in-hand, customers we are busy with and products that are selling well — as well as the machinery and departments that are busy.
Afterwards, I head to my office where it’s quiet to see how profits are performing and review our ecommerce channels. I use this time to also complete more complex cost and business proposals, or analytical and planning work. Once everyone else has started working, I then check my email box.
Usually, I have a few meetings a day, although this fluctuates. Some are offsite, which means some of my time goes into travelling. However, I generally finish work at around 6:30pm.
What are the main parts of your role and how did you get to where you are?
My career began here as a teaboy and I’m now celebrating around 30 years at Precision Printing.
My role can be described as a ‘general practitioner’ — someone who leads and guides the executive team. My working week is subject to change, of course, but usually, I spend about half of my time on marketing, sales and business development. Then, I’d say around 20% of my energy goes into operational efficiency and finance tasks, with about 10% on HR and staff-related issues.
In your opinion, what is print’s main challenges today?
Print has been a part of our society for decades, so naturally people believe that digital will completely take-over. This is indeed a challenge, but not for the reasons you might imagine. Print is thriving and evolving, and the main challenge digital presents is having to dispel the idea that digital is forcing print to become obsolete.
Are things improving, stagnating or declining?
Print is not diminishing, but it is changing. As digital marketing costs increase and the channels become more congested, printing is starting to look like remarkably good value.
What are you most proud of at Precision Printing?
I’ve been here for a long time, so there have been many highlights. However, I was particularly proud when our team managed to send 50,000 orders in a single day. Also, when we won UK Print Company of the Year and launched “Oneflow” workflow software as a commercial business. Although, for me, I was very honoured to be appointed Dscoop global Chairman.
Is there anything you’d like others to know about the print industry?
Apple Mac, Digital Photography and e-commerce are just three examples to show that when innovative technologies are monetised in print, these usually include printing and graphic arts.
Do you have a business role model and why?
General Manager, Alon Bar Shany. He runs HP Indigo and has led a revolution in digital printing, managed a huge global business, but still takes time to meet most of his significant customers.
Do you have any tips for becoming a CEO?
Never stand still, keep being creative and don’t be afraid of new technologies and opportunities. Believe it or not, every business is slowly dying as soon as it is born. Never think it’s too late or something is too complicated. It rarely is.
How about for those who want to enter the print industry?
Print is all about marketing, showing creativity and reacting to new technologies. So, get prepared for an industry that never offers a dull moment. If you can understand different business sectors — it’s going to be the perfect industry for you.
And one last sentence of advice?
The secret to opportunities is taking them.