As a Customer Advocate and Problem Solver, Cenveo's Sam Grabon Is a Rising Star
Despite the mainstream mantra of “print is dead,” anyone who works within the commercial printing space in any capacity knows just how incorrect that statement is. It will continue to evolve and prosper, driven by technologies like inkjet printing on all kinds of substrates, interactive print, big data, and expansion into brand-new applications. It may change and adapt, but printing will never disappear.
As such, commercial printing will need leaders to help drive that change and spearhead the adaptations that will need to occur. As the next generation, those future leaders bring new energy, new excitement, and new ideas that can — and will — shape the future. But who are they? What are their backgrounds? How did they discover print?
To answer some of these questions, Printing Impressions put out a call to the industry at large to nominate some “Rising Stars in Commercial Printing.” The eight people profiled are already making an impact, and have big plans for a long career in printing. Here is a closer look at one of the remarkable individuals — still in the early stages of their career — and where he plans to go next.
Sam Grabon, Central Executive Sales Representative | Cenveo Enterprises, Chicago
Sam Grabon didn’t come to this industry with a background in commercial printing, or a family history of putting ink on paper. In fact, Grabon notes, he had “absolutely zero interest in printing” when he first graduated from college and began to search for jobs.
Grabon knew he enjoyed sales and wanted a position in that field, but after a few interviews for what he calls “shady sales-type jobs,” he connected with Western States Envelope & Label via his university’s job board.
“I started off having to learn everything about print and envelopes,” says Grabon, age 27, “and discovered that the industry comprises such a whole wide ocean — it was eye-opening. I never thought print could be so complicated. I thought it was just ink on paper, but I still encounter new things every day.”
In fact, that aspect of there always being a new challenge, or a new problem to solve, has become one of Grabon’s favorite aspects of working in the printing industry. He thrives on being able to tackle a client’s problems, and find new and innovative solutions to get the job done.
After several years with Western States, Grabon eventually took a job with Cenveo, where today he is one of the youngest envelope sales representatives in the country. He is a member of the board for the Mail Systems Management Association (MSMA) and has worked with more than 1,000 printers/mailers, doing so all before the age of 30, which is something he is rightfully proud of.
“Right now, my main focus is envelopes,” he notes, “but I have done labels, direct mail, and some commercial print. I like to say that ink on any material is what I sell. Day-to-day, I am putting out fires, connecting people’s needs to what we have to offer, and finding solutions for what customers are looking for.”
Grabon’s passion for print has been ignited, and he sees a long career in this business. He says he hopes to advance with his current company, and would eventually like to work his way up into a sales management position. But his end-goal has evolved — Grabon would eventually like to either run a print business completely or open his own shop. It is a far cry from someone who started his career with no interest in printing whatsoever.
One of the aspects of printing that has captured him so completely continues to be the people, he notes. “I’ve met thousands of printers from all over, and each one — no matter their politics or way of life — has been super awesome to work with. Everyone has been very welcoming and kind.”
One of the biggest challenges Grabon sees, however, is that many of those same people also see technology as “the enemy,” and that doing an email campaign somehow takes away from print. “They view it as zero sum,” says Grabon, “but I view it as an ‘and.’ The best printers incorporate data and the internet with the actual print business, and look to ride the wave instead of beating it back. They have to get over that old-school mentality and adapt to the changes.”
From his perspective, Grabon notes that while the type of work is shifting, the actual print volumes are actually still very high. Instead of just huge amounts of direct mail, for example, he sees packaging as a big growth opportunity.
Customer Service Advocate, Not Sales Rep
“The volume is still there; it’s just different from before,” he says. “I don’t know what the past was like — it’s all brand new to me, so I don’t have that baggage of how things once were. But I don’t consider myself a ‘print salesperson’ — I am more of a customer advocate. I don’t do a hard sell, I just help people solve their problems.”
That approach isn’t unique, but it is something that many of his generation are finding far more success with. It’s a completely different way of looking at print sales, but one that will continue to drive the entire industry into the future. And individuals such as Grabon will continue to lead the charge and prove that print is far from dead, it’s just evolving.