Since 1992, when his father first brought him into the family stationery business, Warren Werbitt, founder and team leader of Pazazz Printing in Montreal, has been pursuing his own vision with a passion.
“I told my father, ‘Okay, but I want to sell, because I’m not interested in getting dirty.’ Soon after, I got my first order for $2,700, and I said, ‘This is for me. This is so easy.’ Of course, it was six months before I got another order, but I had made a commitment.”
Werbitt’s second turning point came when he attended Drupa, alone, at age 25. “It changed my life. There was over 2 millon square feet of equipment, noise and vibrations. I was getting chills.
“When I got home I called my father and the accountant to a meeting and said, ‘Okay, we’re buying a five-colour.’ They both said it wasn’t happening. So I told the accountant, ‘You’re fired for telling me ‘no’ without a reason.’ Then I told my father, ‘I’m a world traveller now. I can’t stay with letterhead.’ So we got the five-colour and never looked back.”
The purchase of Trendmore Printing in 2000 was a great learning experience, says Werbitt, and since then he gradually assumed control of the company.
The present equipment list includes an eight-up Fuji CtP system, a 6-colour 40-inch with coater and a 5-colour 28-inch, both Mitsubishi presses, a two-colour 28-inch Komori, a Ryobi, a Heidelberg platen as well as two flexo presses plus bindery and finishing.
The company caters to ad agencies and pharmaceutical clients—but Werbitt contends their true specialty is service, and credits his staff of around 40 for attaining $8.5 million in sales last year.
“It’s only in the last two years that my team has really come together,” he says. “It took me a while to find them. Once I did, I sat all the people in charge of production down and asked them to revamp our systems. I bought lunch but did not sit in. You have to believe in people and let them know you believe in them. They created the new systems by themselves, and they’ve taken ownership and responsibility for what they created. Now we have awesome scheduling, production, shipping and client care.”
To steer his company’s course, Werbitt also relies on networking with other owners. A few times a year he attends peer-group events hosted by the U.S.-based National Association for Printing Leadership.
“Printers in Canada need to get over the fear of the competitor. Because of fear we’ve engaged each other in price wars and turned printing into a commodity. But in reality, printing is service-based. We dispense professional advice like lawyers and accountants, yet no one wants to give us $300 an hour.
“Here’s what I mean: we recently quoted $20,000 on a job for an existing client, the client said ‘Your competitor just quoted us $16,000, so we have to give the business to him.’
“I replied, ‘Go ahead, it doesn’t make sense for me to price the job lower.’
“So they retrieved their files, but once the other printer had reviewed them, he requested another $3,500 for the job. The client pressured the other printer into honouring his original price, but they still incurred so many problems that they wanted to come back to us.
“But I replied, ‘We had already proven ourselves to you, and we quoted the job right in the first place, but you dropped us. And then when the other printer realized his mistake, you forced him to do the job at a loss. My concern is that you’re going to screw us next. So I’m afraid we can’t work with you any more.’
“I was blown away. Nobody has values any more. When a guy falls down, you should help him up, not walk over him.”
At age 39,Werbitt is working to raise the ethical bar. “People think a printer is nothing, but printers sell themselves short. We need to make a stand together, to publicize our pride, our integrity, who we are and what we stand for.” Clearly, Werbitt is the first in line to follow his own advice.