Printing Industry Rising Star Ryan Casey Brings a Fresh Perspective
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.
Ryan Casey, VP of Sales and Marketing | Casey Printing, King City, Calif.
Ryan Casey is the fifth generation in his family to enter the printing industry. The business was founded in 1901, and today is owned by his father and uncle. “I don’t remember not coming to the shop to help out in some capacity,” the 32-year-old says. “I was pretty lucky that I was born into this industry.”
But while printing ink is in his blood, Casey notes that he wasn’t always sure he would follow the path into the family business. While he began working nearly every job in the shop once he was old enough to be an “official” employee — learning everything, from the company’s web and sheetfed offset presses to its bindery — like many kids, he wanted to get out and see the world on his own. Casey first tried Rochester, N.Y., when it came time to go to college.
“But it was way too cold there!” he laughs. “So warm weather induced me to stay [in California], which was a great decision.” Casey ended up at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), where he got involved with the university’s graphic systems department, which included a shop co-run by the students.
“That was an awesome experience,” says Casey. “There are some really great professors who opened my mind to the industry as it stretched beyond what we do [at Casey Printing].” While he knew the ins and outs of publication printing from his time with the family business, the university introduced him to packaging, flexography, and other areas.
Packaging, in particular, called to him, and Casey spent several years working at OEMs in the industry with a focus on that space before ultimately deciding to return to the family business — bringing his new knowledge to help expand services and open up new opportunities.
Drawn to Digital Packaging Opportunity
“I spent a lot of time working in packaging,” he says, “and the ways that digital printing and packaging can work together. While I think there is still a future for printed publications, digital packaging is a good place to go as well.”
To that end, Casey Printing is now drawing on his experience, focusing on building a business around the production of labels and folding cartons, for now, but Casey has plans for the future. “We have a sheetfed press, we can print all these materials with our HP Indigo, and we have diecutting capabilities, so all of the ingredients are here to create packaging,” he says.
Casey is especially interested in some of the emerging product spaces, such as cannabis, where there are unique opportunities to get in early and help design new packaging and branding campaigns. He is also interested in breaking the proverbial mold around turnaround times and what is possible.
“In any business there are preconceived notions about how it should work,” notes Casey, “but going in with a different perspective allows you to get around those industry paradigms. We can do different things with the same tools — for example, using the same things we use to customize business cards, we can now use to customize a label. We can print it, convert it, and ship it, often in a day or two, which doesn’t usually happen in that industry. I see a niche in shorter-run, really-fast-turnaround labels and folding cartons.”
More broadly, digital printing technologies in general get Casey the most excited about the printing industry. “There is a lot of innovation in digital printing and all the ecosystems that surround it,” he says. “Not just the press, but also in finishing. We are watching inkjet come to fruition, and seeing what people are truly able to do with it. We are taking products from a lead time of weeks or months, and turning that into days or weeks. And I think that will power the next generation of brands and how they reach customers. For us, who are behind the scenes, that is really exciting.”
Casey might have a legacy of printing ink in his blood, but that hasn’t stopped him from looking for innovative new applications and technologies. His fresh perspective and excitement for what’s next will not only benefit Casey Printing in the long term, but will help shape the future of the entire commercial print space moving forward.