Q&A with Group CEO at Precision Printing — Gary Peeling

Precision Printing has grown from a small firm in the 1960s to become an innovator in its sector. This British business is today one of the leading providers of a wide range of printing services. But what about the people behind the brand? To mark more than 50 years in business and share his insider knowledge, we sat down with group CEO, Gary Peeling.

How did you start at Precision Printing and can you describe your role current role?

My first job at Precision Printing was as a teaboy around 30 years ago. Today, my role as CEO means that I deal with and 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.

Can you tell us your average day at Precision Printing?

My way of working, is that I like to get things done and out the way as early as possible. So, I usually start at around 7am doing out-of-work tasks.Once these are completed, 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.

After I’ve had a chat with the team and checked over everywhere, I’ll head to my desk to review our ecommerce channels and check out our profits. I usually also use the quiet time to complete more complex cost and business proposals, analytical or 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. Often, I finish work at about6:30pm.

Can you tell us a secret about the print industry?

When innovative technologies are monetised in print, these usually include printing and graphic arts. For example: Apple Mac, Digital Photography and e-commerce.

Do you have role models in business?

The man who ran a revolution in digital printing and managed a massive global business, Alon Bar Shany, is a role model of mine. He’s the general manager at HP Indigo and a very busy, influential man, yet, he still somehow makes time to meet and know most of his significant customers.

Can you provide any advice for aspirational CEOs?

Move with the times and never stagnate. Creativity and being flexible in your processes are key. Believe it or not, every business slowly dies as soon as it launches. Also, don’t think that it’s ever too late or too complicated to do something — it rarely is.

What would you say are the main industry challenges Precision Printing faces?

Digital platforms are a constant competitor for us, however, the main challenge in relation to digital is dismissing the myths that it is rendering print obsolete. Many believe that parts of our sector, such as book printing services, will be replaced with digital formats and this has resulted in reduced demand and margin pressure based on perceived value.

Are things recovering?

I’d like to tell everyone that print is far from suffering, even in a digital world. We’re actually flourishing. As digital marketing costs rise and the channels become busier, printing is starting to look like a remarkably good-value alternative.

What are your top things to do outside of work?

Making sure I spend plenty of quality time with my family is a priority for me. I also love cycling, travelling the world, and listening to Billy Joel.

What are your most memorable moments at Precision Printing?

When we received the UK Print Company of the Year award in 2007 — that was excellent for the whole team, as was when we shipped 50,000 orders in just one day and launched “Oneflow” software as a commercial business. For me personally, I was very proud to have been selected as Dscoop: Global Chairman.

What advice do you have for people starting a career in print?

Innovation, creativity and unstoppable drive is what you need in this sector. It’s always evolving, and if you can understand different business industries, print is going to be perfect for you.

Finally, what is your main piece of business advice?

The secret to opportunities is taking them.