Firehouse Blog

Author Archive: Randy Baer

A Printer of a Different Color

RandyBlog2016Automation has been a focal point at Firehouse over the last few years. A decade ago, software automation at Firehouse entailed building macros in Excel, Photoshop or working with AppleScript. Fast forward, and this has evolved into true software development with a full-time team devoted to building applications that can automate the digital printing workflow like never before. CEO Terry Corman has stated many times that Firehouse is rapidly becoming a technology company that also prints. While Firehouse is first and foremost a printing company, software development has had a huge impact in how work flows through our facility.

The world has changed. It’s time for the printing industry to do the same.

Digital print clients want many things from their print vendors, but speed is always at the top of the list. As I’ve said many times, we live in an amazon.com world. Firehouse won’t be adding drone delivery any time soon, FireDronebut the on-demand speed expectation can’t be ignored. Deadlines are not just shrinking, soon they will vanish altogether with same-day shipments. Lengthy print runs are also becoming a thing of the past with variable data and a transition to an on-demand print model, which makes sense; why buy 5,000 of a piece you may or may not use when you can have us print them on the fly?

With that shift, everything changes. Printing one file 5,000 times is one thing. Printing 5,000 files one time each is an entirely different beast, and requires a new way of thinking. While many companies want to cling to the old ways of doing business, Firehouse embraces technology and loves the challenge of working differently. The leader of our team in Europe has noted “Firehouse is a chameleon; it changes to what the industry needs us to be.”

And so, Firehouse changes its colors once again, as it has many times in the past.

Randy Baer
Firehouse COO

It’s Never NOT Communication

randyblogIt is with humble appreciation I greet you today, as this is my first post of my tenure as the new Chief Operating Officer of Firehouse. I have been with our company for over 21 years (yes, my Firehouse career is of drinking age), the onset of the digital realm of imaging, spending most of my time overseeing the IT structure of the company. One day that may be helping to develop systems that could automate our production, while others it meant I was climbing through the ceiling running wire. Our ability to automate graphics production has always been key in my mind, as I feel it will allow us to get product more accurately and quickly to our customers than ever before. I learned a lot from Terry Corman, CEO, and have been blessed to inherit a wonderful staff in this company. I am looking forward to this ride.

It seems only appropriate I’d begin this blog with a phrase which I’ve repeated ad nauseam throughout my Firehouse career. In fact, I can see staff members rolling their eyes upon reading it here. And that’s not just because of our security cameras allowing me to oversee all things at Firehouse like some tyrannical overlord stroking an ever-graying beard while plotting our next corporate move.

I have found that one of the keys to not only business success but being able to get through life in general is to attempt to have the most open and honest lines of communication possible. Maybe it’s my background coming into play (my degree is actually in broadcast journalism) or perhaps it’s that I simply don’t want to be surprised. Regardless of the reason,

Communication2

I instill this phrase in my employees, because “I didn’t know that” should never be a valid excuse for a task not coming to completion.

Not to sound like a geezer (but hey, if this article comes with a picture of myself, you have the visual evidence to back that up), but communication has changed over the years and shows no signs of slowing. A century ago this year, we had our first US coast-to-coast long distance call. Today, we scoff at the idea of ‘long distance’, and many are scoffing at the idea of phones as well. In the 1990s, we could tell if our company was busy by how often the phone rang. Now they sit in silence as the vast bulk of our work is handled via email or other online transactions. The world is becoming faster and more efficient.

In theory, at least.

CommunicationMainImageWith advancements in technology, we now have more ways to communicate than at any time in history. This is something that should be celebrated, yes? Consider this: every person has a different preferred method of contact. Some like to be texted; some cringe when their phone vibrates. Some like to be called; others view it as completely out of date and annoying. No doubt you have your communication platform of choice as well, and it may contradict with your family’s or your company’s. But we all communicate however we can.

Recently, I had lost contact with a good friend of mine. Calls went unreturned, emails met a similar fate. I feared perhaps he was dead. I did my weekly Twitter check (obviously not my preferred form of communication), and saw Tweets a plenty from my friend. My relief soon turned to annoyance. After all, why had my friend ignored me? In his mind he hadn’t; he explained he had gotten my calls and emails, but now he only replied to Twitter messages.

For some strange reason, I get the feeling that as my son moves into his teenage years in the near future, I’ll be having conversations such as these regularly. Hmmmm.

As we move forward, I believe that we will continue to see divergence in communication, specifically in the business realms. It has always been Firehouse’s goal not to fight, but rather embrace changes in technology. Rest assured, that will continue to be true under my guidance. Should you have any suggestions how you would like to see Firehouse better communicate, I’m all ears.

Unless you are emailing, texting, or Tweeting. In that case, I’m all eyes and fingers I guess.

Hard to type with an earlobe, you know?

Randy Baer
Firehouse COO