These 20-Under-40 Up-and-Coming Printing Industry Executives Share Their Success Stories
"You learn a lot from the ground up, and that was always my father's philosophy—the same way he did it," notes Sommers, who represents the third generation of leadership at Allied Printing. "You learn how to get things done and about the capabilities of the company. It's a whole new world when dealing with customers and competitors, a whole new paradigm when you get exposed to that side of the business."
A forward on the NCAA Division II National Championship Stonehill College NCAA hockey team who was on the NE10 conference honor roll and athletic director's honor roll, Sommers was a playmaker, much like his hero, retired Hartford Whalers star Ron Francis. The NHL Hall of Famer exhibited leadership qualities, a sound work ethic and humility—traits Sommers admires, as they are applicable to the printing world, as well.
Sommers is advanced well beyond his 28 years. He likes to surround himself with the best people and let them do their job, as opposed to micro-managing.
"I'm a big believer in empowerment and autonomy," he says. "I think I have a pretty unique style in that I'm very open minded and intellectually curious. I always want to figure things out and understand why things go wrong or how they can be fixed. I'm always interested in how we can improve that, how can we be better and what can we do differently to separate ourselves.
"This is a people industry; no one person can do it all by themselves. It's important to understand people and share common values and goals. Then you can really accomplish a lot together. That element of team building and collaboration is important."
In October of 2013, Sommers' father lost his battle with cancer. John Sr. was not just a father, but a mentor and best friend who taught John Jr. everything about printing. The elder Sommers was able to strike a balance between work and family life that many business people are unable to master; he coached his son's hockey team for a number of years and never missed a college game.