April 2007
Every print shop needs a cause
To build a great company you have to look beyond the bottom line
In an industry as competitive as the printing industry, it’s hard to think of anything else but the bottom line. This is one of those industries where just a few mistakes can get you into a heap of trouble. And it’s highly unlikely it will get less competitive any time soon. So, the idea of helping out someone else is not something that’s top of mind for most company owners. Beating the other guy, or just plain survival, is usually the first thing on the agenda. And yet, despite all the industry’s problems, it’s interesting to see how many printing companies are involved in helping others or have adopted causes to support.

I had an fascinating conversation recently with Tony Gagliano of St. Joseph Printing about the causes they support. Partnering in a tree-planting program, which started years ago before the environment became all the rage, and being one of the chief sponsors of the Luminato Arts Festival in Toronto, with more than 100 cultural events in June ——are just two examples of the company’s community involvement. When I asked Tony why St. Joseph takes such a lead, he came back with several answers. If you want to build a great company, he said, then you have to help build a great community. He also felt that the goal of any company has to be more than just profits. You have to make things better for others. We are in the communications business, he added, and strong communities create strong businesses. It’s a win-win situation.

St. Joseph is not alone. When we wrote our profile of David Friesen, CEO of Friesens in Altona, Man., it was obvious that Friesens gives a lot more to the community than it gets in business from the town or province. (Most of its business comes from south of the border or outside the province.) Friesens takes on a major community project every three to four years and has helped build a town library, a recreation centre, a performing arts centre and a man-made lake where residents can swim.

Jay Mandarino, of CJ Graphics in Toronto, regularly MCs fundraising auctions for charitable organizations across the country. Stephen Pugh of MPH Graphics in Markham, Ont., got involved with the Forest Stewardship Council before it became a high-profile organization. He did it not because he thought there was any profit to be made by bringing FSC to Canada, but because he believed the environment was important. In fact, being the first FSC-certified print shop in the country was a logistical nightmare and very expensive in part because he couldn’t pass the costs on to the customer.

Hundreds of other printing companies have embraced some sort of charity or cause. Most of which does little at first glance to help the bottom line. But as Tony Gagliano mentioned, there has to be more to a company than just the bottom line. A cause gives your staff a chance to make a difference even if it’s only a small one. It’s amazing to see how different aspects of people come out when they get involved in helping others. It quite often becomes a unifying force for staff members.

It also shows the public that there is more to a company than just dollars and cents. It gives the company a human dimension. It adds diversity to the corporate culture. Most people want to deal with a company that cares and gets involved in the community. Should your company have a cause, even if it’s a small one? Yes. You only stand to gain.
Alexander Donald is the publisher of Graphic Monthly Canada.
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