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An Interview with New SGIA President Ford Bowers

(February/March 2016) posted on Thu Mar 03, 2016

Did he find print, or did it find him? What's next for the Expo? Will screen printing disappear?

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By Steve Duccilli

In February, SGIA welcomed a new leader as Ford Bowers took the helm as president and CEO, succeeding Michael Robertson, who had served in that post since 2001. Bowers was named the successor at the SGIA Expo last November, following Robertson’s announcement that he would be retiring after 33 years with the association. Bowers brings a nontraditional perspective to association management, coming to SGIA from the leading retail graphics firm Miller Zell, where he was VP and general manager of the printing operation.

A native of Augusta, Georgia, who paradoxically prefers tennis to golf, Bowers has been a member of the SGIA board of directors since 2012. We caught up with him in early February, just a few weeks after he started his new role.

SP: Looking over your LinkedIn profile, it appears that you have gotten into this industry by accident, just like most of us.

FB: Actually, my brother-in-law was working at Miller Zell as a project manager (and now leads the graphics division). He started there in 2006. He said, “Hey, this is a good company and there is another opening for a project manager. You might want to look at it.” I had a lot of operational expertise and a project management background as well. I had been in about a half dozen different industries, so at that time, I was kind of industry agnostic. It just turned out to be a really good fit. I was a project manager there for about two years, and when the head of the print division moved on, the COO asked if I would be interested in running the graphics division and managing the print process. I was shocked. I said, "You know that I’ve never worked in a printing company before, let alone run one.” [Laughs.] She said, “I understand that, but I have a feeling you’re going to be really good at it.” For the next seven years, I essentially ran the graphics division for Miller Zell.

SP: Miller Zell has been a very forward-thinking company in concentrating on a niche in retail graphics and evolving its business to be much more than a printer. I think that’s a mindset that will be helpful to other SGIA members.


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