Deanne Sinclair is a passionate entrepreneur and proud family business owner at Cambridge Label, a label printer in Ontario, Canada. She has an honors business administration degree and a master of business (MBA) degree from the Ivey Business School.
My family has been in print for more than 35 years, but to be honest, I never envisioned myself working in the print industry at my family business. Growing up, my father always had a strict ‘no family members as employees’ policy, out of respect for his other business partners. It wasn’t until I had graduated from high school, when my father purchased the entirety of Cambridge Label, that he allowed me join the business.
I started in our rewind department, doing the tedious tasks that no one was thrilled about doing. One of my first jobs was manually counting out stacks of hundreds of sheeted labels and rubber-banding them. As a young female in the industry, you have to get your hands dirty to earn the respect of the staff. I was willing to do whatever was required, and am still open to helping wherever needed in order to get the job done. I believe that to be a good leader you need to get in the trenches and do what you have others do.
I remember going to my first trade show and being shocked by the high proportion of 40+ year-old males in the industry. I was in my early 20s, and had ‘marketing manager’ on my attendee badge. My father gave me a long list of new technologies and equipment to explore; equipment that we were serious about investing in. At the end of the day I was frustrated with the lack of progress I was making; no one was giving me the time of day. He said: ‘You shouldn’t have put marketing manager on your badge. Next time put owner and tell them you’re one of the final decision-makers.’ Sure enough, next show I followed his advice and my results were drastically different.
This experience changed the way I look at attendees when I exhibit at a show. The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow; they should not be ignored because they will soon become the decision-makers. I also learned that having a good mentor will drastically accelerate your success.
A prominent leader in the Canadian print industry once said to me: ‘You have your MBA, why did you choose to work in the print industry? I feel like no one in their 20s who has their MBA chooses to work in print.’
Out of my graduating class of around 100 people, only two of us went to work in Canadian manufacturing, with no one else in my class choosing entrepreneurship as a career path immediately upon graduation. I found myself, once again, being the outlier.
My classmates thought I was crazy; unfortunately print has been generalized as a dwindling industry due to decreasing demand for newsprint and so on. Personally, I view the print industry as quite the opposite. It’s such a dynamic place for young leaders. It’s a great place to be because there are many in the workforce that are near retirement, and those jobs need to be replaced with the youth of today.
Lastly, and most importantly, print is everywhere, and I don’t foresee it disappearing. As you go about your daily routine, think about how many products you interact with that are printed, how many signs you see; somebody, somewhere is manufacturing those for a profit.
Cambridge Label has nearly doubled in size in the past eight years. We’re constantly investing in new technology to expand our capabilities and keep our operations efficient. In 2015, we were the first in Canada to invest in an HP Indigo 6800 digital press. This year we have invested in Nilpeter’s new FA 17-inch wide flexo press (see boxout), a laser die-cutting machine for digital labels, and new pre-press software. I’m proud to be a young female working in such a fast-paced and dynamic market.