The electric doors of the San Antonio International Airport whisked open, and as I coolly strolled out of its idyllically air-conditioned walls – roll-y suitcase gliding confidently behind me – my body nearly went into shock attempting to adjust to the blistering Texan heat. Fortunately for me, it wasn’t long before I was in a taxi heading to San Antonio’s Grand Hyatt hotel, excited for a week of learning and networking at Consolidated Graphics’ (CGX) annual FYI conference held for first year Leadership Development Program (LDP) associates.
Checking into my room, I was unsure of what to expect out of the days ahead. On the flight into San Antonio I became acquainted with two gentlemen, Andrew Ramos and Max Revere – both of whom work for Metro’s Indiana based sister companies (The Jackson Group – Indianapolis and Lincoln Printing – Fort Wayne, respectively) – but for some reason I was a little nervous for the meet and greet scheduled for later that evening.
After mingling for a few minutes it became clear that my nerves were misplaced. Everyone was extremely friendly, people were shaking hands and laughing, mentors were introducing mentees, and there was an open bar.
That evening set the tone for a full week of presentations illustrating CGX’s sizable and progressive place within the printing industry, not to mention the sharing of ideas and stories among new friends over a few adult beverages (networking!).
I spent most of my time throughout the week within one of the hotel’s expansive conference rooms, where the inoffensive beiges adorning the walls beguiled the level of enthusiasm and passion that members of CGX’s LDP team, as well as other assorted executives and company presidents, displayed towards welcoming us first year associates into the printing industry.
I learned about the vast capabilities offered under CGX’s wide umbrella of printing companies, and the unending possibilities that being a part of such a large network provides. I learned about Kate Burton’s journey to TSSG, and Dominic Giunta’s path to becoming a Corporate Purchasing Specialist, as well as his unrealistic (and perhaps delusional) hopes for the upcoming 76ers season. We heard about the demanding, yet rewarding experience our own Stephanie Young had working a political peak season at Eagle Press in Sacramento, CA.
Brad Masai, President of Wentworth Printing in South Carolina, shed some light on important aspects of our operating companies’ finances, and stressed to always ask the Why? as well as the How?
We were inspired and scared by the passionate presentation Mike Schmitz, President of Electric City Printing in South Carolina, gave on Wednesday afternoon. If there was anyone who could make me pumped to go for a run, it would be Mr. Schmitz, and though I didn’t leave his presentation with any more desire to go lace up my sneakers and pant my way to a twelve minute mile, I was left feeling excited to return to Metropolitan and get to work.
That feeling of enthusiasm to get back to the office and start to really dig in to my journey as an LDP associate was one of the major takeaways from the week. Through hard work and dedication, so many of the people that I spoke with had achieved great things, both personally and professionally, and hearing those stories was inspiring, though not necessarily surprising.
What I did find surprising was the amount of care that everyone associated with the LDP displayed towards each individual new associate. Being such a large company, I did not expect to find company executives and generally very busy people investing so much time talking with first year employees.
Before attending FYI, I really didn’t have a great sense of our corporate atmosphere, though I did feel extremely lucky to have begun my professional career at Metropolitan Printing working alongside some of the funniest, most interesting and dedicated people I have met. They have welcomed me into their weird world of printing, and I have often been struck by how much everyone cares not only about their work, but about the people they work alongside. Talking music with Ed and Cory, or listening to Lonnie and Lee sing the next song I’ll have stuck in my head for days, or watching Danielle work on a cool design for a client, and then watching and (hopefully) helping as everyone works to make it a reality – I have felt fortunate to have begun my professional career with a small company full of such great people.
After attending FYI last week, I feel even more fortunate, and am enthusiastic to continue along my journey as an LDP associate with CGX surrounded by a strong local and corporate support system. Finally, I would like to extend a warm thank you to the LDP team for organizing such a fantastic conference, and I look forward to attending future CGX events.