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Freeport Press’ David Pilcher to Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: “Our Workforce Is Doing Well; They Are Adapting Like Champs and Doing Their Usual Great Work.” The Mr. Magazine™ Interview.

April 14, 2020

Publishing During A Pandemic (12)

“We are also seeing many publishers getting creative. We’ve printed some special issues, with limited runs to make them more collectible.” David Pilcher

“We’ve had some projects reduced or canceled. Yet I don’t want that to sound worse than it is. Sportsbooks, event-related literature, city/regional magazines and similar publications are suffering the most, which would be expected during something like this.” David Pilcher

A major part of the magazine and magazine media industry is the ink on paper and the manufacturing of the magazines.  In addition to the interviews with the creators of the magazines and magazine media, I decided to reach out to the printers of the magazines, those who actually take the creative work of the magazine creators and make it a reality, i.e., print it and deliver it through the different distribution channels to the readers.

David Pilcher, is owner and  VP of Sales and Marketing at family-owned print business: Freeport Press.  The printing company identify itself as “a nationally-recognized leader in the print production of high-quality niche publications and catalogs, Freeport Press has been in continuous operation at our centrally-located facility in New Philadelphia, Ohio, since 1880.”

While adhering to the recommendations of the CDC and the World Health Organization, Freeport Press continues to operate in a manner to “to ensure Freeport Press takes every necessary precaution to protect our associates and each other from the spread of this virus, and not contribute to a spike in COVID cases.”

I asked David my usual Publishing During A Pandemic questions, and his answers were reassuring, to the point, with a touch of hope and reality mixed together… to quote David, “Healthy people and healthy businesses are both needed to ensure the long-term viability of our business.”  And all Mr. Magazine™ can say in response to that is Amen!

So, here is the 12th Mr. Magazine™ interview in the series of Publishing During A Pandemic with David Pilcher, VP and Director of Sales, at Freeport Press.

But first for the soundbites:

On operating during a pandemic: Our primary concern right now is the health and safety of our associates and taking excellent care of our customers.

On ensuring safety at the workplace: We are working to ensure Freeport Press takes every necessary precaution to protect our associates and each other from the spread of this virus, and not contribute to a spike in COVID cases.

On the impact of the pandemic on printing: We’ve had some projects reduced or canceled… However, we are also seeing many publishers getting creative. We’ve printed some special issues, with limited runs to make them more collectible.

On any shortage in ink or paper: No. Paper and ink are still in ready supply

On whether you can ever prepare to such a crisis: A business should always be prepared for the worse because it will always be unexpected. Financial stability and healthy relationships are vital. This is how you prepare for the unexpected.

On his message to customers: I’ve seen a lot of messaging around about print being an “essential business” and how printers are open and here to help businesses get through this. That’s absolutely true.

On any additional words of wisdom: I recently saw an interview with Simon Leslie of (INK) that discussed using the proper language to create the right narrative. Are we creating stories of hope or fear? The same information, worded differently, can create positive or negative tones.

On what keeps him up at night: My cats usually.

And now for the lightly edited interview with David Pilcher, VP for Sales and Marketing at Freeport Press:

Samir Husni: Considering all that is going on, how is Freeport Press operating during this pandemic?

David Pilcher: Our primary concern right now is the health and safety of our associates and taking excellent care of our customers. Healthy people and healthy businesses are both needed to ensure the long-term viability of our business.

Samir Husni: Since you can’t print from home, what the steps you are taking to social distance and ensure all are well at the workplace?

David Pilcher: We have seen a glimmer of hope over the last week. Forecasting models now predict that the country may need fewer hospital beds, ventilators, and other equipment than previously projected and that some states may reach their peak of COVID-19 related deaths sooner than expected. While this is good news, we all need to be very aware that forecasting models are just that — models. They will continue to shift and change as data continues to flow into them.

For our part, we will continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC and the World Health Organization, along with our state and local authorities. We are working to ensure Freeport Press takes every necessary precaution to protect our associates and each other from the spread of this virus, and not contribute to a spike in COVID cases.

We are all working diligently to maintain a safe distance between each other at our manufacturing facilities. We’ve also implemented these precautionary measures to stay as safe as possible:

  • Temperature checks for anyone entering the building at the beginning of each shift
  • Single-use restrooms
  • Reinforcing proper hygiene regarding hand washing
  • Single seating in the cafeteria
  • Modifying breaks so fewer people are in break rooms at any given time
  • Thoroughly cleaning equipment and providing the necessary sanitizers
  • Remote work assignments and teleconferencing whenever possible, especially for our non-production team members
  • No customer or supplier visits to our offices or production facilities

We’ve been successful in keeping everyone healthy so far. And we know a continued focus on safety is vital, especially as people come out from the lockdown and get back out in public. We’ll continue to be vigilant to protect our team members and our customers.

Samir Husni: What is the impact so far on the publishing frequency, printing, mailing, etc.? Any change on the print schedule from your clients? Skipping issues, reducing print run, etc.

David Pilcher: Absolutely. We’ve had some projects reduced or canceled. Yet I don’t want that to sound worse than it is. Sportsbooks, event-related literature, city/regional magazines and similar publications are suffering the most, which would be expected during something like this.

However, we are also seeing many publishers getting creative. We’ve printed some special issues, with limited runs to make them more collectible. We’ve had regional publishers print features about their city stepping up to the pandemic – especially healthcare and frontline workers – and these are popular with their readership. We see a focus on restaurants to get the word out, with takeout menus to help their eateries survive. So many of our customers are adapting and finding incredibly creative ways to support their communities through this.

Samir Husni: Are you seeing any shortage in paper, ink, workforce?

David Pilcher: No. Paper and ink are still in ready supply. And our workforce is doing well; they are adapting like champs and doing their usual great work. Our primary focus is to keep them healthy and safe.

Samir Husni: Did you ever, in your nightmares or dreams, ever think of such a situation and can you ever be prepared for such a thing?

David Pilcher: You and I are both old enough to remember 9/11 and the resulting downturn of the economy. A business should always be prepared for the worse because it will always be unexpected. Financial stability and healthy relationships are vital. This is how you prepare for the unexpected. In times like these, we realize just how important it is to have solid relationships with your bank, with your vendors, and with your customers. And with your employees as well; I’m really, really proud of how our team has responded to this challenge.

Preparation begins with trust. When we trust each other to do the right thing, we know we can work together to get through it.

Samir Husni: What message are you communicating with your employees and clients?

David Pilcher: I’ve seen a lot of messaging around about print being an “essential business” and how printers are open and here to help businesses get through this. That’s absolutely true. More importantly, I believe, is direct communication with your employees and your clients. Everyone is worried about something, and probably needs more than just a general “we’re here for you” message. Strong leadership and communication are what makes a business truly “essential.” Make sure you are addressing the needs of each part of your business and the challenges that still exist – both internally and externally.

Samir Husni: What makes magazines and magazine media relevant today?

David Pilcher: Their perspective. I believe the offline format of magazines makes them unique, of course. But besides ink on paper, magazine publishers offer a unique view of whatever subject they are covering – and that’s something their audience adores and craves about them. That in-depth perspective where readers can learn something new about a topic they are interested in from a voice they already trust. We need that more than ever right now.

Samir Husni: Any additional words of wisdom?

David Pilcher: I recently saw an interview with Simon Leslie of (INK) that discussed using the proper language to create the right narrative. Are we creating stories of hope or fear? The same information, worded differently, can create positive or negative tones. You’re still communicating the same information, yet it can leave the reader feeling positive, hopeful. It’s a very timely perspective that, I believe, is worth sharing.

Samir Husni: And my typical last question, what keeps you up at night?

David Pilcher: My cats usually.

Samir Husni: Thank you


PS:  As my gentle readers will notice Freeport Press is one of the Mr. Magazine™’s Blog sponsors, however this interview is only one of few interviews with different owners, presidents and CEOs of the many printing companies in the country, so for the sake of truth in reporting, here you have it.

 

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