Baseball and Business

Posted in Business Philosophy on July 27, 2014

TonyLaRussaYou may know that Tony La Russa, one of my all time favorite baseball coaches, is being inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame this year (2014). Tony was interviewed on NPR and had the following to say about his management style:

“Our style is very relationship driven, hands on, earning respect and trust, and showing players you cared for them . . .”

“We had a responsibility to, each year starting at zero, earn the respect and trust of our players. You know, you’re honest because that’s how they trust you. You have helpful things to say because that’s how they respect you. And you care for them, care what’s happening with their family and their private life, to the extent they open the door, and you care about what’s happening to them as a teammate. Then, by the way, that’s what they’re expected to do with each other.”

At PPI, we aspire to trusting, respectful relationships with employees, customers and suppliers, and we hope to inspire passion in those relationships. What better role model than Tony La Russa!


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Ugly Logo Contest

Posted in Business Philosophy / Design on May 10, 2014

SwissCommLogoMy wife and I were traveling in Switzerland last year and we were frequently confronted with the ugliest, most visually disturbing logo I can remember; the logo for SwissCom, the Swiss telecommunications giant.  The graphics committee (it had to be a committee) responsible for this should be lined up and shot.

Ideally a logo is a simple visual description, generally with the following design objectives:

       Visual clarity with bold, simple design elements

       Visual impact in 1 color or full color

       Works in all mediums (paper, banners, internet, etc)

       Maintains visual elements when reduced or enlarged

       Ideally conveys

o   What business you are in

o   Image (eg old fashioned, cutting edge, honest, high-end, successful)

o   How your business is different

Now I’m not suggesting this is an easy process. In fact, it can be a hard intellectual and visual mountain to climb. It is a wearying and expensive process so we are easily seduced by inferior ideas.

In my experience, the best insurance is a faithful pit bull designer that won’t let go, chewing and chewing until a brilliant idea takes shape.

As a practical matter, most of us are not SwissCom with thousands of dollars at our disposal for logo design.  On a budget, I suggest engaging an experienced graphics designer (we have several to choose from). Meet with the designer armed with concise answers to the above questions: “what business”, “image”, and “differentiation”, and examples of logos you like. Hint: Google logos or logo design.

If you have entries for our ugly logo contest, please email an image and where you encountered the monstrosity.


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Posted in Business Philosophy / Printing Products on March 10, 2014

why“To fulfill a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labor, to be given the chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life. The money is the gravy. As everyone else, I love to dunk my crust in it. But alone, it is not a diet designed to keep body and soul together.” Bette Davis


In business, we often talk about what we do or how we do it, but we don’t often talk about why.


At PPI, this is the why:


We enjoy and embrace the challenge of a demanding and often treacherous business and economic climate. To grow and thrive requires us to throw out the status quo, to continuously ask “How can we do that better, cheaper, faster, more efficiently?” or “What can we do to make our customers more successful?” or “What will make our customers happy, or even wildly enthusiastic?”.


We thrive on the satisfaction of achievement in work, the satisfaction of cooperating with each other, and the satisfaction of participating in the growth and maturity of the business.


What an incredible privilege it is to live in a country where we are free to pursue our dreams, where we are limited only by our imagination and our willingness to work hard.


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Electronic Invoicing, Fool’s Gold?

Posted in Business Philosophy / Printing Products on February 09, 2014

flyingmoneyI have been vindicated! I get testy with vendors that send invoices via email. They go to spam, they go to the wrong person, they fall outside the normal flow of our invoice payment processing, and frequently we have to answer phone calls regarding non payment of these invoices. In other words, they become exceptions and in our business we work hard to minimize exceptions.

A recent post at,, documents an excellent study by Danish company Natur-Energi that concludes “it cost the company $3.25 per customer to get paid by paper invoice and $5.75 per customer billed by e-mail.” This, despite the fact postage in Denmark is almost twice United States postage.

Read the post for the complete backstory, and keep those postal invoices coming.


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Service: The Truth Exposed

“Everybody’s excited about the new service economy, even though there is no
actual service as near as I can tell.” – Ian Shoales writing in Intelligent Enterprise

We see the word “service” throughout business literature and jargon, yet never
a clue about what it means. For example, the expression “service is our business”.
What the heck does that mean?

At PPI, we want our employees and customers to know exactly where we set the bar,
so following are our service aspirations:

  1. Prompt estimates with thorough specifications. We’ll honor urgent requests. Otherwise,
    4 hours for a simple estimate, 24 hours (occasionally longer) for complex estimates.
  2. Prompt, within two hours, response to emails or phone messages.
  3. Regular communication:
    • When you can expect an estimate.
    • When your project will be complete.
    • Status updates for lengthy projects.
    • Follow up after completion.
  4. We take the time to thoroughly understand your project and make recommendations
    when appropriate.
  5. Meet expected completion dates. Our on time delivery rate is 99.9%+.
  6. We keep our promises. If we make a promise you can take it to the bank.
  7. Resourcefulness. We take pride in finding solutions to unusual or demanding projects.
  8. Most important of all, to carry out your service expectations, we are committed to
    finding and keeping the most knowledgeable and professional people in our industry. I
    think you’ll agree that we have great folks at PPI.

Of course, we’re constantly looking for ways to improve. For example, we are currently
implementing software that will provide faster and improved estimate communications. And
we’re careful to listen to our clients for suggestions, or even criticism. I appreciate the
opportunity to learn your service expectations.



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Growing Up

Posted in Business Philosophy on July 08, 2013

“The only way that we can live is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open.”
C. JoyBell C.


growing-up-is-never-easyGrowing a business is a lot like raising kids. Every stage of development is exciting, and another test of management, or parenting, skills.


So I’m excited about the investment we’re making to increase direct sales efforts. Our plan is to hire a sales manager and two additional salespeople over the next 12 – 18 months. In the interim, Dave Fellman, a nationally recognized sales management and sales training expert, is working with our sales staff.


Like most growing companies, we have to be smart about how we invest our limited resources. We’re very cautious about adding management but in order to continue growing it’s time we moved beyond my limited sales management skills.


For our customers, we expect salespeople to be accessible, to be knowledgeable, and to be up-to-date on technology.


If you know anyone that might be a great fit for our sales positions (Memphis and / or Tupelo), please ask them to check out:


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