My journey to ending up at the family company was a little more indirect than my siblings. When I went to college, I started out as a major in political science and Spanish because I wanted to be a prosecutor. Two years into my program, I did two internships: one with the district attorney’s office and one with the sales team at Yerecic Label. That was when I made the switch and decided I wanted to come into the company full time after graduation.
There was never any pressure to join the family company. That’s something my parents excelled at, making sure we landed where we were passionate about in our career. I never thought I would be a key account manager for labels, but I really enjoy it. I enjoy the people in the industry, I learn something new every day, and it is so rewarding to do what I do and serve the industries that we serve.
We focus a lot on immersing ourselves within our industries, so we go to a lot of trade shows and different industry events. That has given me opportunities that I think are unique for a young person in the industry. That is what helped to accelerate my career quickly, having all these opportunities to be face to face and learn from people that have so much more experience. My dad calls it baptism by fire; I laugh at that, but it is true. He has done a great job at putting me in those positions where you have to take a risk and put yourself out there and it’s a really good learning experience.
Developing a young workforce
About ten years ago, my dad looked around and realized we didn’t have a lot of young people here, so he made a concerted effort in the 2010s to change the way we were looking at the company and how we were communicating so we could attract different generations and build our future.
On the production side, we have a program called ‘Tier training schedule’, which lays out the path for everyone from a finisher all the way up to a shift manager. It shows what steps they need to take, the training they need, and how their compensation will be reflected in all of that learning. Providing a clear path to success when someone is interviewing is really powerful for a young person to see their future. Our sustainability efforts both within our manufacturing processes and our product lines are also attractive to the next generation.
I think something a lot of young people struggle with early in their career is feeling like they don’t belong, or are unsure of their decision making. They don’t want to say or do the wrong thing when they are just beginning their career. Being a lifelong learner and having a good work ethic are the most important weapons you can employ against that feeling of not belonging when you’re in a new environment.
I try to learn as much as I can, watch as much as I can, and speak to as many people as I can, and most of all, listen. Whether that is internally when I’m learning about our materials and technology or externally when I’m at a customer and I’m learning about their needs, I really try to listen a lot more than I speak.
In the future, I would like to see the print industry continue to grow and be more inclusive. I want to see it grow in a manner that is sustainably focused on end-user solutions. In terms of diversity, I want to see diverse people within the label industry. I want to see young people, I want to see women and people of color, and you don’t get those great perspectives unless you open the doors to them.