Executive Q&A: Ken Garner of NAPL

QP: Tell us a little about your association, the segment of the market it serves, and what you consider to be your “core” users.

KG: I am the chief operations officer of the recently merged AMSP and NAPL/NAQP industry associations. The association principally serves practitioners, or service providers, in the mailing, printing, and fulfillment industry segments. Our “core users” are the decision makers who occupy the executive management positions within our member companies.

QP: How did you get involved with the company? What is your background before that?

KG: I became the CEO of the Mailing &Fulfillment Service Association (later to become the Association of Marketing Service Providers) in 2008, after a 35 year career in commercial printing, serving for many of those years as president of a magazine printing company.

QP: What do you consider your greatest achievement in this market to be?

KG: After over four decades in this industry, I’ve been fortunate to have played a part in a number of significant events; however, I hope that my most significant achievement has been to help a number of remarkable people grow and develop personally and professionally.

QP: If there was anything you could change, either about your career in regards to the print industry, your association, or the market as a whole, what would it be and why?

KG: I consider myself very fortunate to have been part of this industry for most of my career. There have been ups and downs but I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve had the opportunity to be part of some great organizations and to have worked with some outstanding people. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the past. As challenging as the current environment is, I’m genuinely excited about the industry’s future.

QP: What do you consider the greatest challenge to be for the industry right now? Why?

KG: To stop feeling sorry for itself. To sift through the current challenges and discontinuity and leverage the rich opportunities that exist; to realize and accept that,, in the end we will control our futures through what we do -- or don't do.

QP: What do you consider the greatest asset to be for the industry right now? Why?

KG: Our greatest asset is the combination of our work ethic, tenacity, and entrepreneurship. Despite the ways in which advances in technology have changed the ways in which we provide our products and services we are, at heart, a “roll up the sleeves, lunch pail” industry used to hard work and overcoming challenges. In addition, we are in the business of creating, managing, and distributing content that informs, educates, and makes commerce possible. It’s a premium position that still has significant value and will continue to be relevant well into the future.

QP: In your opinion, what have been the biggest changes to the way we communicate with one another in the past few years? How would you recommend that the industry take advantage of that?

KG: When was the last time you wrote a letter? Technology has revolutionized the way we communicate. E-mail, texts, tweets, blogs, social and mobile media have become primary methods to message and communicate. But, as marketers have begun to find out, there is still significant value in the printed word. In fact, we have begun to understand the marvelous synergies that exist between electronic and printed media. It’s not an “either - or” choice. It’s the challenge of leveraging the combination of the two. One of our challenges is educating our customers to better understand the potential that exists in multi –media communication that includes the value of print.

QP: Looking ahead, what major innovations or technologies do you believe will shape the future of our industry? Why?

KG: I’m not much of a futurist. Technology, no doubt, will continue to play a major role in shaping our futures. Many years ago a mentor of mine cautioned me about the amount of importance that was being placed on technology. He told me, “Business will always be about people.” He helped me understand that the importance of human relationships and culture will always trump the significance of the next technological breakthrough. I suppose this is open to debate, but I believe it to be true.

QP: What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to printers and others involved in this industry?

KG: It is a bit cliché, but never stop learning, growing, and adapting. The need to constantly change is a fact of life and with the right attitude can be fun. (Also, see my answer to question #5.)

QP: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

KG: I’ve probably already shared too much.