Donald Duncanson — A Self-made Man
The only work he could find was as a truck driver for a small printing company, which required that he also do some part-time work in the print shop’s bindery department.
“I didn’t have a clue what a bindery department was, but I took the job. I was in the bindery for five months, but I just about quit because the boss I had was a ruthless type of guy,” claims Duncanson.
In fact, Duncanson had even accepted a job with a different company, but at the last moment decided to stay. “I thought that I could learn a trade, so I decided to stick with it,” he remarks.
It was a decision that would ultimately pay huge dividends for Duncanson. Over the next 10 years, he slowly worked his way up in the company through the prepress side of the business, eventually becoming vice president and part-owner.
It seemed Duncanson had finally found the direction for which he had been looking. But then the operation was sold to a large, publicly run printing company.
With the change in the company’s political climate and product mix, Duncanson decided to strike out on his own. “When I left, I had nowhere to go and had never worked anywhere else.”
Although he had 10 years of industry experience, the decision to go it on his own was a risky one. Duncanson had never sold printing. He also now had four sons and was in the midst of adopting his fifth child, a daughter.
Initially, Duncanson partnered with a former colleague who had a small advertising agency. His then-partner wanted to be able to offer printing, in addition to his advertising services. The two split after just five months, however, due to differing management styles.
“I was left with the overhead, the equipment, the lease—and no sales. Through the school of hard knocks, I learned how to pound on doors. It was a lonely year. It took me a lot of time and hard work to get the business going,” he remembers.