Job hunting? The label industry is hot

NORTH AMERICANow is the time to get a good job in management at a label converting company in North America. The marketplace for executive and managerial talent is highly competitive, new areas of expertise are opening up, and good candidates are finding themselves in positions of strength.

That’s the perspective from Direct Recruiters Inc. (DRI), based in Ohio, USA, which practices in a range of industries, including labeling and other aspects of packaging. The company recently hired Dan Miller to manage its labels and labeling practice, and Miller sees a strong growth trend among successful label printers.

 “As I speak, a lot of strategic hires are being made around marketing folks,” Miller said. “Companies need to know more about how to present themselves and their products in the marketplace, and there are new areas that they are getting into. There’s a strong trend toward hiring sales people to accommodate these changes.”

DRI engages in searches for professionals at the sales level and higher. Some are in production, but mostly at a general manager level and beyond. A majority of the positions are in the USD 100,000 to USD 300,000 range.

Historically, label printers avoided the spotlight, choosing to sell printing services and printed products quietly rather than champion the company in a more outward fashion. That’s changing.

“There appears to be more of an appreciation today of what marketing does, and more understanding of how it can benefit a label manufacturer,” Miller said. “One small-to-medium sized company that we work with never had a marketing person, and now is looking for one. As they grow they realize that they need folks who specialize in that field, and in several others. Executives are learning that, like every industry, theirs is dynamic, that there’s always a new product that deserves promotion.”

As companies merge with or acquire others, talented managers sometimes find themselves displaced. For those with experience in the label business, their job searches might prove fruitful more quickly than in other print segments or other industries. David Peterson, a partner at DRI, observed that label manufacturing is “an incredibly tight, aggressive market, with strong competition for positions. The unemployment rate in this field is zero. Executives and managers are happy, are doing well, and are getting calls every day from recruiters.”

“Overall there’s a war for talent,” Miller added. “I’m working right now with three companies who are looking for marketing professionals, and the ability to move upward is there.” Salaries for those people, he said, can range from USD 60,000 to as high as USD 120,000.

These days, employers who learn that their top people are being lured away to greener pastures waste no time in doing what they can to keep the employee around. “There is an epidemic of counter offers – about 80% of the time,” said Miller. “We’ve had instances in which, as we perform reference checks on a candidate, a past employer wants to re-hire them.”

Label company owners, said Peterson, are waking up to a fact of business life today: “Baby boomers are retiring, and the companies have to get people ramped up to take their places. This takes work. Ninety percent of a company’s ability to grow is based on succession planning and hiring.”

Roger Linde of Graphic Search Associates, in Pennsylvania, USA, said he sees some positive movement for upper level employment in the folding carton segment, and in high end specialty printing, and in pharmaceutical and healthcare products. His company focuses broadly on the print industry, some of whose sectors fare better than others.

One area that concerns him is salaries. “If anything, they are still depressed. Companies think they can get people for less than they could five to eight years ago. Then they find that people have left the industry, so there are fewer to choose from. A lot of the people in our database are gone from the industry and have no interest in looking back.”




Jack Kenny, NarrowWebTech's North American correspondent, has written about the label and packaging industries since 1995. Contact:

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