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November 2017

Precision Printing mark 50 years with Q&A with group CEO Gary Peeling

Precision Printing mark 50 years with Q&A with group CEO Gary Peeling

From a small firm in 1966 to a pioneering company of the UK print industry, Precision Printing has enjoyed great success over the years. This British business is today one of the leading providers of book printing and other printing services. To mark its more than 50 years in business and share his insider knowledge, we sat down with group CEO, Gary Peeling.

What's your role at Precision Printing?
As CEO, I 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.

How long have you been at the company and what career path did you take to get here?
I've been at Precision Printing for three decades, and actually worked my way up from teaboy.

What's an average day for a Precision Printing CEO?
I'm a big advocate of getting things done early. So, I usually start at around 7am doing out-of-work tasks. After this, 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.
As soon as my walk-around is done, 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. More often than not, I finish work at about 6:30pm.

What industry challenges have stood out to you?
A major obstacle for the print industry is the advent of digital marketing and proving wrong the belief that print is obsolete. Many believe that physical printing will be replaced with digital formats and this has resulted in reduced demand and margin pressure based on perceived value.

Have things recovered?
Our industry is transforming, not declining. As digital marketing costs rise and the channels become busier, printing is starting to look like a remarkably good-value alternative.

Is there anything you want people to know about your industry?
When new technologies are monetised in our sector, these usually include printing and graphic arts. Apple Mac, Digital Photography and e-commerce are just three examples of this.

Do you have role models in business?
I'd have to say Alon Bar Shany, who is the general manager at HP Indigo. He's ran a revolution in digital printing and managed a massive global business, yet still somehow makes time to meet and know most of his significant customers.

What's your advice for aspiring CEOs of the future?

Never stand still and always stay creative. 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.

How about tips for people wanting to work in the print industry?
This sector is all about evolving technologies, being creative, marketing fresh ideas, and producing innovative products - so there's never a dull second. If you can understand different business industries, print is going to be perfect for you.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Whenever I'm not at work, I try to spend as much time as possible with my family, cycling, travelling the world, and listening to Billy Joel.

What are your Precision Printing highlights?
I've been here a long time, so there are plenty for me to choose from. If I had to pick just a few, I'd say:
- Receiving the UK Print Company of the Year award in 2007.
- My selection as Dscoop: Global Chairman.
- Shipping 50,000 orders in just one day.
- Launching "Oneflow" software as a commercial business.

And lastly, can you give us a one-sentence piece of snappy business advice?
Of course. The secret to opportunities is taking them.


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