The secret to being more successful five years from now than you are today? Accepting that your company will not, and cannot, be the same.
Two years ago during the company’s biannual strategic planning process, an idea came up to take the company in a most unusual direction for an industrial printer. Ron Gizzo, COO of VMS, had been doing heat-transfer decoration in his basement under the name Badlime Promo and Apparel to support his wife’s dance studio and suggested bringing the operation into VMS. The management team researched the market and was impressed by data showing textiles to be the fastest-growing market in digital printing. Client discussions revealed that many VMS customers were already buying decorated apparel, creating a solid opportunity for VMS to extend their footprint. “We knew we weren’t going to be starting from scratch,” Kahle says. “In our initial pass of our customer base, we figured we had $1 million in sales, and we could expand the current base further. So we said, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’”
Deciding to keep the Badlime name (which Kahle cheerfully describes as “goofy”), they leased additional space in a nearby facility where VMS installs vehicle graphics. They acquired the assets of an embroidery business that happened to be in the same building, purchased two Workhorse automatic presses and an Epson SureColor F2100 DTG printer, and with Gizzo’s transfer operation were soon offering a full complement of decorated apparel by July 2018.
In addition to providing a solid pool of prospects, Kahle believes that the discipline required in the core VMS business will provide a significant advantage in the apparel operation. “We have put together an incredibly systematic approach to business that’s required for the industrial OEM side,” he says. “Our clients demand inventory management practices, quality assurance programs, ISO 9000, sustainability. When they come into a factory, they want to see an operation that is clean, organized, and running well. We feel we can take this model and use it in the garment industry, without the ISO and excessive paperwork that’s required.”
The Business of Evolution
What do these three businesses, with their dissimilar backgrounds, have in common? The curiosity to think differently. The courage to take risks. The strength to act decisively. The unwillingness to allow themselves to become irrelevant to their clients.
Each of these executives expressed concerns about the ubiquity of digital technology and the uncertainty it has created. They see the same market dynamics as the industry pundits. Yet each has plotted a distinct future course for their business. Rather than converge, they have chosen to diverge, to evolve and find a unique path that others aren’t following. It has been a critical force throughout the history of print and it is sure to be the most important trend in this industry for the next five years and far beyond.
Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to the magazine.