Do Printers Hire Former Print Buyers?

Even before the recession hit us all between the eyes, I knew several printers who moved ‘across the aisle’ to corporate print buying positions. They were owners and sales reps, mostly.

This is a natural move, in my mind. Print buyer candidates who have prior manufacturing experience tend to be highly regarded for these positions (when they exist).

I’ve always wondered if the reverse were true: Do printing companies hire former print buyers? If so, for what roles?

I would think having a seasoned print buyer on staff makes a lot of sense, presuming the individual’s skills, references and personality all point to “Hire this person pronto,” and not “Danger! Run away!”

Wouldn’t an experienced print buyer make a terrific CSR? They can practically hit the ground running. They know what print customers experience, how they think about working with printers, what their pain points are, and of course, how to treat them professionally.

What about print sales? Selling skills are a whole different animal, I know, but surely there are former buyers who have the “sales gene,” and with some training and guidance they could be very successful at selling print and related services.

The reason I bring this up is because right now there are a lot of corporate print buyers on the lookout for new work, due to budget cuts and layoffs.

It seems to me that using their industry knowledge and sourcing skills would be a top priority for most buyers, whether they work as print buyers or in a related capacity for print manufacturers.

And this thought: would it be valuable to have one or two of these print buyers come in and have a discussion with a printer’s sales team and/or service team? Even if you don’t have a job to offer, could you learn some interesting things about buyers’ points of view by working with one of these ‘free agents’ until he or she lands a new gig?

Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched her new business in 2013 as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. Now she’s on a mission to help clients build customer communities through carefully crafted content.

You may know Margie as the producer of the annual Print & Media Conference. Although she’s exited the event production business, she’s still publishing her Print Tips newsletter. She looks forward to helping companies create and style all of their content so their potential customers sit up and take notice. For details and to sign up for her Print Tips and new marketing blog, visit or e-mail Margie at
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  • http://MikeDudek Mike Dudek

    When we hired a former purchasing person to be a sales rep they couldn’t change their hat. They were too worried about always selling for the lowest price which was how they liked to purchase.

    I wouldn’t do it again.

  • http://WilliamThompson William Thompson

    As both a former print sales person and most recently a print buyer / print production person, I agree that we have much to offer a printer as far as insight.

    Our experiences dealing with both sales persons as well as production can give a printer a clear view into “how the other half” sees them.

    Print buyers actually want a lot more than the lowest price. From my perspective, I always wanted a strong relationship with a printer that was based on mutual respect and benefit.

    If anyone is interested in anymore insight, please feel free to contact me.

    William Thompson

  • http://RoyWaterhouse Roy Waterhouse

    We have never hired a print buyer for a position but we have worked with several print buyers who were former print sales people. Generally we find that the buyer has a little more empathy than someone brought in from another non-print related area.

    Regardless of where the buyer is from they are still looking for many of the same things – speed, trustworthiness, accuracy, price, quality. The former print people may be a little more understanding when problems happen.