2021 Rising Star: Jessica Swider Loves that 'Every Day is Different' at TEAM Concept Printing
Here is one professional from this year's crop of “Rising Stars.” Seven exceptional 20- and 30-somethings recommended to Printing Impressions as exemplars of the next generation of leadership in the commercial printing industry. We asked each of them to tell us how they got here, what keeps them dedicated to the industry, what they’re proud of having accomplished so far, and where they hope to be going forward.
We also made a point of asking them why, in their opinion, it’s so perennially difficult for the industry to recruit people of their age group. The most compelling answer was basically, “Nobody from the printing industry ever told me what a rich career opportunity I’d find in it. I had to figure that out for myself.”
This bears thinking about. So does the fact that there are many more young stars like these just below the horizon, waiting for the outreach that will let them rise and shine as print professionals in their own right. We’re pleased to profile their role models here.
TEAM Concept Printing
Carol Stream, Ill.
“Since I was a child,” recalls Jessica Swider, “I was a visual kind of learner. Even as a kid, I remember looking at cereal boxes or labels on different kinds of products.” Years later, at the invitation of Tony Rouse, president and CEO of TEAM Concept Printing, she got her first tour of a printing plant — and her first inkling of how she might turn her flair for the visual into a career in a field she would come to love.
“I walked in blind, not knowing about printing,” Swider recalls. “But as soon as I walked into the facility, I was intrigued, and I wanted to take on a new opportunity.”
She has spent the past 10 years pursuing the opportunity as a sales representative for TEAM Concept Printing, a commercial and trade printing business that holds the No. 203 position on the Printing Impressions 350 list of the industry’s largest firms. In that role, she works closely with brokers, designers, and independent business owners — and relishes the satisfaction that comes with it.
“I love that every day is different,” Swider says. “I know that nowadays, when someone needs something, it’s right away, and they usually need it within the day or the week. I like that I’m creating a tangible product. I like to see the job from start to finish, starting something and being able to see it each step of the way.”
There are plenty of steps to observe at TEAM Concept Printing, a fully integrated print manufacturer with extensive offset and digital capabilities. “Our team can do everything under one roof,” Swider says. “I can watch the printing, the diecutting, the foiling, and the embossing.”
Communication is open, so anytime there’s a need, “I can just talk to the pressmen. If I have a project in production that I am really excited about, I put my mask on, go in, check it out, and see what’s going on.”
Helping Clients Create What They Visualize
Swider acknowledges what every print sales representative soon learns: connecting with the right people at a print-buying company isn’t always easy. But she sees the challenge of winning them over as its own reward. “Getting the word out about printing, that’s a little bit difficult,” she admits. “So the fact I’m able to educate and talk to people, and help them to create something they are visualizing, that’s a huge accomplishment I’m proud of.”
One way TEAM Concept Printing spreads the word about itself and its values is by supporting local charities. Recently, the company hosted a visit by Pink Heals, an organization that deploys a fleet of pink-painted firetrucks and police cars to raise money to assist cancer victims. A large check was presented, and the entire staff posed for a photo with the big pink firetruck. “Being able to support that cause makes you feel good,” Swider says.
The right message to share, she believes, is just saying that print is not going anywhere. “It’s growing, it’s always been around, and it’s basically never going to go away. It’s important to speak to the younger age group to make them comfortable.”
She admits that when she first encountered printing, the realization that she didn’t know anything about it was “terrifying.” But, Swider didn’t let it overcome her determination to find a place in the industry. As she says, “it just takes time; you work, you learn, and you get comfortable.” And, it taught her the proper response to questions like, “Why do you want to get into printing, when it’s a dying industry?”
“I never thought of it as a dying industry,” Swider replies, “because the presses were always constantly busy, and we were always busy in sales. Ten years later, I’m still here, and I’m loving it. In the stores, seeing all the products that we love, the makeup and perfume — it’s all got print. You have to be able to package any product you are manufacturing. How can you not have that?