Representing a new generation of leaders,
Scott Pillsbury, president of Rose City Label Company, is packagePRINTING’s 2012 TLMI Converter of the Year.
By Tom Polischuk, packagePRINTING
It’s in his blood. Seemingly born and raised in the tag and label industry and virtually a child member of the association, TLMI has had a significant impact on Scott Pillsbury and he has returned the favor many times over. He’s been an active member right from the start, highlighted by a 10-year stint on the TLMI Board of Directors.
John Hickey, CEO of Smyth Companies and the 2010 TLMI Converter of the Year, takes note of the significance of Pillsbury’s contributions. “He was a tremendous leader during some tough times as chairman of TLMI and he made it look easy. On a personal side, Scott is always great company, making him a tremendous ambassador for what the TLMI stands for.”
“Scott is one of those volunteers that just keeps offering help, even after many years on Board,” adds TLMI President Frank Sablone. “He continues to be a great mentor to new members.”
For his on-going and significant contributions to TLMI and the tag and label industry as a whole, Scott Pillsbury, president of Portland, Ore.-based Rose City Label Company, has been selected as packagePRINTING’s 2012 TLMI Converter of the Year.
Pillsbury was raised in Portland and got an early introduction to the tag and label industry while he was still in elementary school when his father, Mike, bought Rose City Label. His upbringing and education were tied to TLMI and the label business from an early age. “My first exposure to the industry—besides washing ink pans and being a helper on a long job on our Mark Andy 830—was a FINAT meeting in Corfu, Greece in 1984,” he relates. Even his college education was a direct result of TLMI. “I attended the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs largely as a result of a day trip my father took to the Academy while attending a TLMI meeting at The Broadmoor.”
Pillsbury graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1989 and spent much of his active duty working in the finance area. Here, he learned the value of writing clearly and how to do thorough analysis. He served in the Air Force Reserve until 1998. As a proud veteran, he says, “I continue to be thankful for the hard work our service members do for this country every day.”
Upon leaving the Air Force, Pillsbury worked for a time for Merrill Lynch in Bellevue, Wash. Here, he learned about sales and further developed his knowledge about training and time management—skills that would help him later in the label business.
In 1994, he joined the family business, along with his sister, Whitney. It was probably fortunate that he grew up around the printing business because any consideration for a long transition from first to second generation ownership was cut short in 1998 with the sudden passing of his father. Pillsbury and his sister were thrust into the unenviable position of taking over the reins of the company under difficult circumstances.
The work ahead of them was recognized by others in TLMI. “It was a huge challenge when his father died suddenly, without a transition plan,” says Mike Dowling, president of CL&D Graphics and 2004 TLMI Converter of the Year. “Scott and Whitney worked hard to keep the company moving in the right direction.’
Pillsbury found himself heading up a company that was evolving. Rose City Label traces its roots back to 1928 when it was founded as a letterpress shop making embossed seals. It transitioned into a sheet-fed offset company and entered the flexo roll label business in the late 1960s. “By the time I joined the company full-time in 1994, we were already printing process labels, re-register hot stamping, and experimenting with holograms,” he recalls.
Pillsbury did not hesitate to continue shaping the company for the future, selling off all the sheet-fed equipment to focus on roll labels, while also adding digital printing capability. “Today we offer flexo, hot stamp, and digital labels for a variety of customers. We have a diverse customer base and specialize in challenging applications,” he says.
Rose City Label serves several markets including food, lumber, durable goods, and beverage (including beer, wine, and spirits). “Our key to servicing the beverage industry has been our expertise in process printing, foil stamping, and material selection,” he says. “We also understand the need for keeping our delivery promises in light of tight bottling schedules. We care about our customers’ businesses and we let them know that their businesses matter to us.”
Pillsbury credits his employees for much of the company’s success. “Our real strength is our very experienced employees. Our employees average more than 12 years with the company and we use that knowledge to help take the mystery out of label buying for our customers. Whitney and I are very proud of the team we have built. Everyone at RCL puts the customer first, and they are loyal to the company.”
Rose City Label, like the majority of printing companies, had to fight through the most recent downturn, but it came out smelling like a rose. “I believe my greatest career milestone to date was leading our company back to a positive, profitable position after feeling the effects of the recession in 2008,” he notes. “As a result of our adjustments, for the last several years we have been growing and reinvesting in the business—and appreciating our success.”
Pillsbury thoroughly enjoys running a small business and takes a hands-on approach when it comes to the sales side of things. “I am very active in talking to customers and generally travel one to two times a week to meet customers face-to-face. I really enjoy the diversity of issues I face on a daily basis running a small company.”
TLMI: Child prodigy
Pillsbury recognizes the impact that TLMI has had on his life, saying, “TLMI has been interwoven into my personal and professional life from early on.” His father served on the TLMI Board in the 1980s and when he passed away in March 1998, Pillsbury willingly accepted a position on the Board. So, in addition to taking over the reins of the family business, he became an active contributor to TLMI—active being a key word. During the course of the next ten years, he was a member of the Finance Committee, held leadership positions on a variety of other committees, and took over the top position, serving as chairman from 2004 to 2006.
During his tenure as Board chairman, Sablone recalls a period of pressing issues for TLMI, including potential legislation in Wisconsin concerning the recycling of labels. “Scott was totally immersed in TLMI,” he relates, “having to make a number of trips to Wisconsin to represent TLMI on this issue.”
Sablone further notes the impact that Pillsbury had during his Board tenure. “As a new Board member, he had amazing insight in the industry and what TLMI needed to do to bridge the gap to the new generation of business leaders.” As chairman, Sablone says he was “unassuming” and would provide direction and stand firm as needed.
Hickey, who followed Pillsbury as TLMI chairman, adds to this assessment. “Scott is the consummate soft-spoken leader who listens first to understand and suggests thoughtful, collective ideas for action.”
Those who are actively involved in TLMI know that its benefits far out way any investment. “TLMI has been great for our company in many ways,” says Pillsbury. “For me, I have enjoyed working with my peers on the Board and it has given me the opportunity to seek advice and counsel from my colleagues in the industry. Without question, the value of TLMI is in the personal relationships developed through conversations at TLMI meetings—and on the golf course, too.
“I love the digital world and embrace technology, but these will never be a substitute for personal relationships. We all rise to the level of the friends and associates we keep,” he adds, philosophically.
In the City of Roses
In his typically unassuming way, Pillsbury lists the highlights of his life so far: graduating from the Air Force Academy, running a marathon, and having a great family. “My wife, Sherrill, and I spend a lot of time chasing after our four kids and their sports and activities,” he says. Some of his favorite activities include snow and water skiing, traveling, staying fit, and watching movies—he’s a big fan of The Shawshank Redemption and The Last Samurai.
Air Force Academy, small business owner, TLMI Board, marathon runner—each of these take a lot of energy in their own right, and this is what Dowling says Pillsbury has plenty of. “Scott is an optimistic, positive guy who gives others energy. You always feel better after spending time with him.”
This content originally appeared in the October 2012 edition of packagePRINTING.
|2011||Ken Kidd||WS Packaging Group|
|2010||John Hickey||Smyth Companies|
|2009||Dave McDowell||McDowell Label & Screen Printing|
|2008||Frank Gerace||Multi-Color Corporation|
|2007||John Pedroli||North America for CCL Label, Inc.|
|2006||Suzanne Zaccone and Bob Zaccone||Graphic Solutions International LLC|
|2005||Walter Dow||Dow Industries|
|2004||Michael Dowling||CL & D Graphics|
|2003||Tom Cobery||Aladdin Label|
|2001||John Bankson||Label Technology, Inc.|
|2000||Terry Fulwiler||Wisconsin Label|
|1999||Bruce Bell||Belmark Inc.|
|1998||The Buckley Family||Custom Tape and Label Company|
|1997||Andrew Beck||API Graphics|
|1996||Jerry Nerad||TimeMed Labeling Systems|
|1995||Joseph A. Weber||Weber Marking Systems Inc.|
|1993||John O’Brein||Porter Chadburn, Inc.|
|1992||George Noah||Lewis Label Products|
|1991||Dick Schwartz||Aladdin Label|
|1990||Pat Patrick||Label America|
|1989||Jim English||Kalamazoo Label|
|1988||Darrell Dochstader||Gar-Doc, Inc.|
|1987||Don McDaniel||MPI Label Systems|