Mi5 Print CEO Sheryl Sauder dives right in to lead top quality printing shop through phenomenal growth

April 24, 2015 ·
From Print Action Magazine, May 2015
Interviewed by Jon Robinson

Read it here…

After graduating from Princeton, where she competed for the university’s varsity diving and swimming teams, Sheryl Sauder began her career with News Marketing Canada. Within three years, she became a founding partner of Prospect Media Inc. and later Stratafly Inc., which she helped lead for 13 years. Sauder then sold her shares and joined one of Prospect’s print suppliers, Mi5 Print and Digital Communications, as Vice President in 2011. In October 2014, Sauder was named Chief Executive Officer of Mi5 Print, which has been recognized as one of Canada’s fastest growing companies for the past seven years. In its most recent fiscal year, Mi5 Print generated $30 million in revenues from top quality printing and now employs more than 140 people in neighbouring facilities totaling 85,000 square feet.

What is your business mantra?
My approach is to lead by example. I certainly work hard. It is much easier to manage people when they feel like you are working as equally as hard or harder than they are. And also that they know you understand the hiccups and what they are going through… From that perspective, it keeps me involved in what is going on. People are more willing to open up and talk about things, so you get the heartbeat of the company.

What is your leadership strength?
I do what I say I am going to. If I commit to something, I finish it right through to the end. And I think that is valuable. Once people know they can trust that you are on it, they can then get on with what they need to do.

What did you take away from your time at Princeton?
I was training for competitive diving twice a day, plus I went to school and had a job, so it was the best way to learn time management. I find I am much more successful at managing my time the busier Iam. I just get more done.

What is your most significant career achievement to date?
My biggest achievement to date is becoming CEO at Mi5. [Printing] is still such a male-dominated industry and I think having a female CEO gives us an edge in the marketplace. When we walk into a boardroom, marketing is very female [driven], so it is nice to have a mix that matches well with who we are selling to.

What is the Mi5 / Spectracolor structure?
Mi5 is the parent company and Spectracolor is what we consider to be our trade brand.

Why is Mi5 open about its trade operation, which most try to hide?
We have enough of our own opportunities that we do not need to wait to see what somebody brings into the building and then decide to go after. Pursuing others’ customers is just not what we do. At the same time we are very much a trade supplier and over 50 percent of our business is to brokers and resellers.

What do you like most about printing?
It is like New York City, it’s the industry that never sleeps. It is exciting. It is truly 24/7. I never walk out of here feeling like I’m done.

What is Mi5’s greatest opportunity in the next couple of years?
Our greatest opportunity is attracting high-level talent either through acquisition or just from a rewarding work environment. We now have a good mix of people who have been in the industry and fresh, young talent. We try to do more things as a company. This is our third year of doing the Warrior Dash up in Horseshoe Valley, which is a 5-km mud run.

What is Mi5’s greatest challenge?
Managing growth, both from a space standpoint and an infrastructure standpoint… We are going to need a new location, which is not a fun thing for a printer.

How much pressure do you feel to keep Mi5 growing?
I have a great team with Derek McGeachie, Steve Tahk and Peter Nitchos, so I definitely do not feel like I am by myself. I think we do a great job of managing as a team, bouncing ideas off of each other.

Why is Mi5 focused on becoming a high-quality shop?
We are trying to remind people that top quality printing is still a craft and your message is going to be held longer if you take the time to make it creative or make it feel good. There is always going to be commodity business, it keeps the machines running, but it is reminding marketers that there are different things that you can do with print to make a campaign more successful.

Are marketers returning to print?
There used to be many mass campaigns that were not very well thought out. I think they are smarter about it now. And they might do smaller volumes, but using the same amount of money to do something different. They are looking for us to come with innovation.

What is your favourite print project at Mi5?
My favourite is our Mi5 calendar… each page has a different cool print technique. It is a difficult project because it is always hard to get our own stuff through the plant… and it is time-consuming because each technique is new and there is some R&D that goes into it. But the finished product is awesome.

What key piece of advice do you have for printers?
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