Industry Up-and-Comer: Jesse Mansfield, The Print Shoppe
“I was born into the printing industry,” says 26-year-old Jesse Mansfield, CEO of the The Print Shoppe. His grandfather, Terry Williams, started The Print Shoppe in 1987 in Austin, Texas, under the name Watermark Press. His mother worked at the business while pregnant and, while doing payroll late one night, she went into labor. Mansfield was, in a very literal sense of the phrase, born into printing.
His mother continued to work at the shop during his childhood, and he witnessed the ups and downs of being a small, independent business owner. “I really don’t know any other lifestyle. My entire family’s income and security has mostly been dependent on the success of our business, not someone’s salary, which I’ve come to realize is quite a different way of living,” notes the 26-year-old.
While Mansfield did try another career as a paramedic, it didn’t last long and, when he was 21, all of his passion and energy went into the business.
He formally took control in 2017, at just 25 years old.
“Even though I spent many summers with my grandfather at the shop, I was never shown the ins and outs of printing. I was borrowed from time to time to seal envelopes and other bindery/lettershop tasks, but printing wasn’t ever given to me. I had to take it,” he notes.
“I have a formal education in business and entrepreneurship, and the rest I’ve been figuring out as rapaciously as possible. I have a natural strength in leadership and systemization/organization, so taking my company to the next level with Lean manufacturing and standard operating procedures is my first order of business.”
One of the best early decisions Mansfield believes he made was to join the Printing Industries of America and Idealliance associations. “Before I was learning the hard way and bumping around in the dark. I didn’t know there was so much material available to learn from. I have a humbling respect for standing on the shoulders of giants and an endless excitement for what I can bring to the table as I become a master of my industry.”
As for the future, he has big plans for the next evolution of The Print Shoppe. “We’re currently working very diligently on our new company. It will be a branding and direct marketing company. We plan on launching this by the end of the summer, and ideally, most of the heavy-lifting with the systemization of our current operation will be done by then, as well. I’m not re-branding — I’m starting a new company. Will it have print? Yes. Will it be a commercial printing company? No.”
His inspiration is hearing from leaders in the market talking about dropping “print” from a company’s branding and diversifying their offerings.
“I have seen the future and it’s necessarily drastically different,” says Mansfield. “At 26 years old, I can’t compete in commercial print. The margins have shrunk from 30-40% in the 1990s to 5-10%. I’m not interested in that game and, even if I were, it’s just not good business sense. To have a long and successful career in this industry, print must be a competency tucked away in a very effective, in my case, direct marketing company, whose expertise and ROI go far beyond any other competitor in the space.”
That doesn’t imply that Mansfield is down on the printing industry, however. He points out that many of the major technological milestones of this century started with print companies — graphical user interfaces, object-oriented programming, database marketing, the mouse.
“It’s confusing to me why we’ve let the new kids on the block take our lunch. It was in their best interest to depict us as unsavvy luddites. It’s in our interest to beat them at their own game,” he contends.
Mansfield is passionate about rebranding the entire industry and making print “cool” again. “Printing is a piece of the puzzle, not the whole thing. Everyone in our industry needs to rebrand.
“I see myself, and the future success of our industry, as delivering an omnichannel experience integrated with the newest technology and giving our clients industry-leading returns on investment.”
To discover other industry up-and-comers and read their stories, read Industry Up-and-Comers: Foundation for Succession from the April issue of Printing Impressions.