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Harris DeWese

The Mañana Man Online

By Harris DeWese

About Harris

Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something." He is chairman/CEO at Compass Capital Partners and an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of info regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 100-plus printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the industry. He specializes in investment banking, M&A, sales, marketing and management services to printers.


Outting Sales Slackers —DeWese

This is a column about work. That’s right, work! Don’t hang up on me!

I know you work hard. I know you are diligent. I know you are tireless. I’m not writing about you. I’m writing about a bunch of people you know. They are called slackers.

You will enjoy this column because it’s about a bunch of other people that you know and see every day at work. They are the slackers. While you are working, they are slacking.

You’ll get vicarious, sweet pleasure reading about these worthless cheaters who show up, but do little work. There’s that word again. Work.

This country is in deep squat because of all the slacking that’s going on by the goof-offs. They play Solitaire for hours at work and then at home. They surf the Internet for hours at home and work, visiting sites ranging from to Some slackers are compulsive Internet shoppers at eBay and other sites that sell stuff. Slackers buy a lot of stuff because it makes them feel good and they can mask their guilt for not working.

Our dear printing industry has slackers and we are stupid for not firing them so they can go “slack up” some other industry.

My research shows we would be 78.67 percent more profitable without the damn slackers. They have to go. We’ve got to get tough and pull the trigger on the lazy laggards. They hurt other workers who could be making more money and be a lot happier if they didn’t have to witness the labor avoidance of the slothful slackers.

Starting at the Top
There are also printing company presidents who are slackers. Frequently, these are men who look good in their suits, get their nails done, have nice hair and gleaming teeth. They are glib, articulate and have a dandy resume.

Sometimes they have none of that stuff, and are just lucky to be the son of the founder whose wife insisted that her sonny boy get the job. This is called a CEO who is a member of the Lucky Sperm Club. These guys (hardly any women CEOs in the printing industry) avoid work by keeping their doors closed and avoiding eye contact with anyone who is intent on asking them a question.

Behind the closed door, they play Solitaire, Backgammon, visit risque Websites, read the Wall Street Journal, phone their golf buddies and make reservations for lunch at the club.

These slacker CEOs should be chloroformed and replaced with someone in the plant who is respected because she works 12 hours a day, is well-liked by everyone and is brutally honest.

Sliding on down the organization chart, there are some slacker sales managers. They’re usually male, mid-50s with gloriously silver hair and possessing an award-winning resume describing their “marketing expertise.”

These slackers also kill time on the Internet and play the PC games, but they waste most of their time doing market analysis that correlates with their company’s product mix and integrates with the competitive space to yield a fit with market demographics that are psycho-graphically sound and result in a highly detailed marketing and sales action plan that’s beautifully bound in black leather three-ring binders.

This, of course, protects their jobs because the CEO doesn’t understand the contents of the binders and may be too busy slacking to read it anyway.

God forbid they should make team calls with their salespeople and try to teach them anything. That would expose their sales ineptitude; these guys are masters at never being discovered. Many of them live their whole lives never having sold anything, but earning good money and then retiring comfortably.

Unhappily, however, because their life was about nothing.

You know there are even slacker CFOs. They don’t know anyone at the bank. They have never read the bank loan covenants. They have no clue about cash management. They use their power to grant or withhold money in order to bully people they don’t like. They waste hours at lunch and have all sorts of PC and Internet entertaining escapes.

They are more IT facile and have the most exotic playthings in the building. They build their slack-
domain by building immense accounting departments that generate unnecessary reports to put the fear of God in the bellies of everyone else. Slacker CFOs are great at digging a deep moat around their departments and waiting for someone to dare attack their fortresses.

Yes, there are slacker print salespeople. Their cars are always in the parking lot and they’re always “about to land the big one(s).” They are superb at creating hoopla about some gargantuan prospects who are ready to “send all their work to us.” They make a lot of social phone calls to appear busy. They write a lot of stuff while sitting at their desks. They can read a paperback, hidden in their top desk drawer, in a day.

The kiss of death for a printing company is a handful of slacker salespeople managed by a slacker sales manager. Fun to watch their antics, but it’s just deadly.

Of course, the production people in the plant have difficulty slacking because they don’t have offices. No place to hide. Nothing but equipment to run. The poor receptionist can’t slack because the phone keeps ringing while she is trying to do billing for the accounting department and handwork for the bindery. Receptionists are some of the most unrecognized and under-rewarded people in the printing industry.

See, I’m smug. I don’t play games on my personal computer. I don’t know how, don’t know the rules and I am never good at that stuff. I only use the Internet to research my clients in the printing industry. I visit a lot of printing company Websites, and I can tell you there are some brutally awful sites and others that are works of art.

I either do my investment banking work stuff, which I do very efficiently since I have been doing it for so long, or I work outside doing manual labor in my gardens or mowing on my tractor. I help my neighbor mow his 12.5 acres because the work clears my head and I have great ideas as I bump along sweating in the sun.

Example of Hard Work
Here is the definition of work. His name is Nozario Tapia. He is a U.S. citizen who immigrated here when he was 15 and then earned his
citizenship. He is now 43 and already a grandfather. He turned that age in July and told me that I am his only American friend who ever gave him a birthday present. There was a little tear in his throat when he thanked me.

Nozario has worked for me for eight years as a landscaper and a hardscaper. In that time he has bought two homes in the U.S., one home in Mexico, two new trucks, two new SUVs, a grocery store, a Mexican restaurant, a tavern and is in big demand as a landscaper.

From the moment that Nozario and his crew arrive, they work non-stop. I never see them take a break or even take a leak. They take 30 minutes for lunch and then are back on the job planting trees, building my walls, paving my walkways or building and rebuilding my ponds and a multitude of other stuff I dream up. There is no needless chatter. No Internet. No Solitaire. Just work. No squabbling. No office politics. And everyone wants to work for Nozario.

He has never lied to me and, when I loaned him money to buy his businesses, he always paid me back. His integrity is equal to his work ethic. Think about how much you would sell if you worked like Nozario. If you don’t want to work that hard maybe you should be doing something else. Selling printing is hard work and there are no easy answers.

I’m so excited by my work that, like you, I’m gonna get out there and sell something! PI

—Harris DeWese

About the Author
Harris DeWese is the author of Now Get Out There and Sell Something, available through NAPL or PIA/GATF. He is chairman and CEO at Compass Capital Partners and is an author of the annual “Compass Report,” the definitive source of information regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed more than 100 printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the printing industry. He specializes in investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, sales, marketing, planning and management services to printing companies. He can be reached via e-mail at

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