Most recently, Katz caught up with Mike to discuss his transition to the new role, as well as the state of Meyers and the greater labels and packaging industry.
SK: Congratulations on your new role as CEO of Meyers. I know that you had great success in a previous CEO role at Lofton Label. How did that experience, as well as your most recent position at Meyers, prepare you for what’s ahead as CEO?
Mike Lane: Fundamentally, it’s about giving yourself time to become a student of the industry. If a person takes the time to learn both the technical side of flexographic and digital printing, as well as the key market forces affecting the vertical market channels in which a company finds itself competing in the label industry, you can hit the ground running in a CEO role.
SK: You are noted as the company’s first non-Dillon family member to take on the CEO role. What does this mean to you, and how is this something that is of benefit to the company?
ML: It really comes down to respect and trust. When you’re a non-family member stepping into an organization, you have to respect the legacy a family brings to the business. You have to respect the family’s concerns and questions and make sure they feel like they’re entrusting their business to someone who understands their vision for where the business should go.
SK: By the same token, a family has to respect that someone coming in from the outside is going to have ideas that are a little foreign, and that while things might not be done exactly as they have always been done, a non-family member can move the organization forward with family.
ML: This move is also about the future of Meyers. I’ve been charged by the board with ensuring the family members who want to step into leadership roles in the future have the support and nurturing to develop the skills they need to be effective leaders.
SK: I have had the great pleasure of touring Meyers and writing about the company. What are some of your short term goals for Meyers' label printing operation?
ML: Brand is the big focus, but not in the context that a lot of people think about it. It’s not about logos or taglines. What has made Meyers successful is the values and the personal brand established by the founder and the second generation. So, the question becomes, how do you preserve that brand?
We spent a year talking to customers, vendors, owners, and employees and really peeling back the onion to get at the core of this company, and what we found was the idea of collaboration. So, we worked hard to create a strategic brand platform around the idea of collaboration, because the brand on the outside is only as good as the brand on the inside.
SK: I understand Meyers recently sold off Verify Brand, its sister company. Do you anticipate any changes to other parts of the business?
ML: We’re getting ready to introduce SystemConnect as a tool to build more functionality into our web portal. The new system will handle order fulfillment, but it’s also about bringing customers digital and internet-based solutions that go beyond the physical product itself. It will have tools to handle things as fundamental as store profiling for retailers, especially when purchasing is decentralized. SystemConnect will help them understand what opportunities exist in what locations. That way, they don’t ship signage to stores that can’t use it. That gives them the ability to maximize marketing dollars.
SK: Meyers’ new MPS hybrid press powered by Domino is an impressive equipment acquisition to the label business. What is your take on hybrid printing – combining digital and conventional methods?
ML: We are still in early days with hybrid, and the technology is going to grow quickly. We’re seeing a lot more turnover in artwork, with more interest in regionalization of labels, and hybrid fills a very nice niche between digital assets and flexo assets on run length and speed.
A hybrid press that allows you to combine the digital portion — your SKU change type of information — with embellishments like screens and cold foils is a huge advantage, and it’s only going to become more important.
SK: Are there any new equipment purchases on the horizon?
ML: Those things are always on our radar screen, but it’s not just about buying equipment. Fundamentally, we’re working to make sure the spirit of collaboration is alive within our organization.
SK: Are there any label markets you see as areas of particularly strong growth for Meyers?
ML: Health and beauty is a growing market segment for Meyers where we can leverage our wide array of printing and production capabilities. Our expertise in the retail market through our display design and production gives us a deeper understanding of the key factors driving consumer purchasing. Additionally, the medical products market segment allows Meyers the opportunity to bring our technical converting capabilities to bear for market growth.
SK: Previously, you were quite active in associations such as TLMI. Will you be attending TLMI meetings once again and looking to collaborate with your fellow label industry leaders?
ML: I look forward to reconnecting with fellow leaders in the label industry. As you know, a few years ago we refined the TLMI brand around the concept of insight. The fabulous thing about TLMI is the opportunity to learn from the best label converters and suppliers in our industry.
SK: How would you assess the current state of the label industry today? What are the bright spots? What are some of the notable challenges converters are faced with, as well as the industry as a whole?
ML: The future is bright. Print and digital are not going away.