HOF 05 Something to Prove — Michael Marcian
“It was the wild west. Marcos had just become dictator and martial law was in effect,” Marcian notes. “So when you went to the theater, bowling alley or restaurant, you had to check your guns at the coat rack. Everybody had body guards and people were getting killed…it was pretty wild.”
Not that Marcian and his high school graduating class of 11 didn’t have fun. Military flights to Hong Kong or Japan for shopping excursions were common. The black market was waiting just outside the gates of the naval base, where a carton of Salem cigarettes—purchased for under $2 at the commissary—could be moved for the equivalent of $35 U.S. So making a quick buck wasn’t all that difficult.
Oddly enough, that experience didn’t prove to be as great a cultural shock as moving to upstate New York, where Marcian attended the Rochester Institute of Technology. “The real culture shock was experiencing the winter at RIT as opposed to living in the tropics,” he says. “Rochester gets more snow than anywhere I’ve been.”
A career in printing seemed all but certain for Marcian. He had even worked for a Rochester printer while going to school. Upon graduating from RIT in 1973, he went to work for Ben French, founder of Corporate Press, where he sharpened his skills in customer service. Stints as a sales manager and vice president of sales followed before Marcian took the helm as president in 1990.
A Balanced Approach
It was French who helped mold Marcian’s professional career and executive style. “Ben always taught us to look at problems from a customer’s point of view, the employees’ point of view, the salesman’s point of view and the company’s point of view, and try to have a balanced approach to dealing with them,” he says. “You need to take the employees’ needs and motivations into account, and also do whatever it takes to satisfy the customer.”