2009 Printing Industry Hall of Fame: The Industry Stage
IN A SENSE, Janet Green could be described as a drama queen. But fate has cast her as a printing kingpin.
The CEO of Irvine, CA-based Greens Printing longed to be a star of stage and screen. So destined for an acting career was Green that upon graduating high school, she already had numerous credits in stage, musical theater and television commercials. Green had her union card, managers and agents. She trained, auditioned and took acting lessons.
From around the age of 12, entertainment was her destiny, and she followed a path toward that end. In fact, it didn't make sense for Green to attend college for drama; her resumé was already more impressive than that of most instructors.
As it turns out, Green has enjoyed a career of triumphant performances and unforgettable roles that have catapulted her to the top of the profession. Instead of earning a Tony or an Oscar, her icon status has been sealed in Chicago, her reward being the respect of peers as a business leader and a trailblazer for women in the printing industry.
Green, 51, has the distinction of being just the third woman to be inducted into the Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame, following in the footsteps of Judith Booth (1994) and Diane Romano (1996). And, as the CEO of Greens Printing, she is one of the few female chief executives in the industry. However, she has the distinction of being the first woman to serve as chairman of the board for the Printing Industries of America (PIA) in the organization's 130-year history.
The acting and printing worlds have crossed paths on a few occasions, and Green has been able to draw on her experience with one to help benefit the other. As a caretaker of a family business, Green has a vested interest in the estate (death) tax and its permanent repeal. Eight years ago, she was asked to testify in front of the U.S. Senate on the question of repealing the tax.
Public speaking is a daunting task and, considering the audience, that could make anyone's knees knock. Unless, of course, you're used to singing, dancing and acting in front of an audience or a camera.
"I'm talking to a lobbyist and he says, 'This is heavy stuff, all these senators you'll be speaking to...are you going to be OK," Green recalls. "I replied, 'I'm fine. I don't need a pill, just give me a microphone, an audience and knowledge of what I'm saying.' "
You don't need to sell Michael Makin on the belief that Green has a penchant for lighting up a room. The president and CEO of the PIA is frequently awestruck by Green.
"Janet has effervescence, energy, dynamism and power," Makin says. "She's one of the most amazingly energetic, positive and enthusiastic people I've ever met—a true life force that brings a sparkle to every occasion. She's a committed professional, entirely goal-oriented. Janet has achieved so much in her life, and she's just a marvel to watch in action."
Active at Many Levels
Green's resumé is quite impressive; aside from the PIA chair, she's been involved with the local PIASC chapter in various executive roles since 1995, including chapter chair, public relations committee chair and member of the government affairs committee. On the national level, she is active with the finance, association relations, planning and government affairs committees among others.
The only girl in a family of six growing up in Long Beach, CA—where she resides today—Green quickly became engrossed in sports and competing. That competition continued into her teen years, which was the time when she was bitten by the musical theater bug, performing in shows such as Carousel, Brigadoon and Kismet.
Entertainment ruled Green's life, but in the background stood Greens Printing, the family business founded by her grandfather in 1908. It had been a constant in her life; she remembers attending a groundbreaking ceremony at the age of 6 to kick off construction of the company's newest facility. Once Green graduated from high school, the printing business became her fallback position of sorts, a seat warmer while she waited for her career to take off.
"When you're trying to be a working actor, you have a lot of downtime," Green explains. "My father asked me to give him a hand with accounting and proofreading. I said OK, but told him not to plan on me staying here, because this is not my life's passion. He was very understanding, and said that wouldn't be a problem."
Green received her printing education "through osmosis" as she buzzed through several departments at the company, including customer service and production. The performance roles were dwindling and Green, now married, decided to stay on the West Coast.
"I kept thinking (performing) was something that would work for me and it didn't," she remarks. "My father pulled me aside and said, 'With your personality, you need to be selling printing.' He showed me the commission structures of the entire sales staff. I dropped my jaw and said 'I can do that!' "
It wasn't long before printing became Green's life passion, and other people were picking up on the notion. In the mid-1980s, with the business not reaching the heights it had anticipated, the company hired a consultant to analyze Greens Printing and find out what it needed for a jump start. The conclusion: Father retires, daughter takes control of the firm.
"My father always thought one of his sons would run the company, yet my brothers all felt that I had the leadership capacity and potential to take over," she recalls. "I had a bit of a hurdle with my father, but not with employees, vendors or clients."
One of the most pivotal decisions she's made in the past 20 years occurred in 2007, when the printer's neighbor—a BMW dealership—offered to buy the Greens building and land, which was owned outright. BMW wanted to open a motorcycle division.
Green balked initially but, after some direct negotiating, she agreed to sell her property for double the appraised value. The country was only months away from what has turned into a crippling recession, making the deal that much more impressive. But now Greens Printing had to find a new home.
Timing Is Everything
Instead of getting into a new lease/mortgage, Green decided to tuck the company into another—Precision Offset of Irvine, CA—and Greens Printing is now a division of Precision, owned by Larry Smith. "Larry is an incredibly brilliant man who has just welcomed us with open arms," she says. "It's been a phenomenal fit, and I just thank my lucky stars that this all lined up at the same time."
The company's success is hardly an accident of fate. Therese Fleming, a group regional controller for Consolidated Graphics and a 10-year acquaintance, sees Green as a person of humor, compassion and intelligence. What enables Green to maximize relationships with employees and customers, according to Fleming, is the ability to connect on a deeper level.
"She really cares about them, and not just on a work level. That's why they're so loyal," Fleming notes. "As an employer, I talk to her quite a bit about having to make hard business decisions in tough economic times. She's always looked to treat her employees with as much compassion as possible."
Perhaps Green took a page from the book of Bob Lindsay, a 45-year salesman with the company. Lindsay, a former Marine, amazed Green with his eloquence, respect and gentlemanly charm. "He would call on customers and spend a few minutes talking with the receptionist, asking about her husband and kids," Green remarks. "The way he communicated with people left a lasting impression on me."
Green hopes she has left a positive impression on the people she has touched; a role model for those who believe that words are fine, as long as they're validated by actions. But being a role model for young women to follow her footsteps into the industry? Not necessary, Green says, pointing out that her daughter Blaire—in her second year in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's printing and graphic communications degree program—is part of a shifting trend. About 65 percent of the printing and graphic communications program's incoming class is female.
Away from the office, Green still has an affinity for the theater and music. She's also a rabid University of Tulsa football fan, and with good reason. Her son, Tyler Pistoia, is a wide receiver for the Golden Hurricane and has already been to three bowl games. PI
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