I started in October of ‘93 as a yearbook sales rep in Indianapolis. I built a territory in Indiana before moving to L.A. to take over a territory in ‘99. While living in Hermosa Beach, I met my wife (Jocelyn).
In 2006 I was promoted to an area sales manager and led the Midwest Area out of Chicago. We were there for four years, where our two boys were born. In 2010 we decided to move to Pittsburgh to be closer to my wife’s family while our kids were young. I continued as an area manager out of Pittsburgh until we came to Kansas City in 2016. I served as the National Sales Manager before being promoted to VP of Sales.
Yeah. I grew up here.
I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. I then attended Purdue University following the footsteps of my dad and one of my brothers.
Graphic design, but Purdue calls it “Visual Communication Design.”
I designed my middle school yearbook cover when I was in 8th grade. It was one of my first design projects, I guess. (finds the book and brings it out)
1983 – this was my first foray into yearbooks.
Yeah, Greyson, my middle guy is extremely talented, way more talented than I was. When we were living here (in KC), he submitted an entry for the 5th grade cover contest. He didn’t win but was one of the top four. He blames me for helping him too much. Then we moved to Philadelphia and gets another shot as 6th grader. I told him I will not say anything or be involved. You got this. And he won the contest.
No, however I knew a career in sales was a possibility. In high school, I was on newspaper staff as a staff artist and wrote a few sports articles. But I never imagined that a career in yearbooks was a thing.
During my junior year in college, the Southwestern Company came to campus promoting a summer job opportunity. They recruited college students to go down to Nashville, learn to sell for a week and then send us far from home to sell books door to door. Of course, they made it sound cooler than that.
I ended up in Newington, Connecticut. We basically sold a three-book student handbook set with everything you learned from kindergarten through your senior year of high school. Going door to door and living in a stranger’s house wasn’t easy, but I ended up being one of top 50 reps in the country. After that experience I thought if the design thing doesn’t work out, I could fall back on sales.
When you make a sale, you collect a 50% deposit which was normally $75. At the end of the summer, you had to hand deliver the books and collect the rest. Normally you're selling to moms. When I attempted to deliver to one of my customers, the dad answered the door, went ballistic and kicked me out of his house.
Yeah, I didn't know it was professional but yeah. You gotta sell stuff to make money. And I learned if you hustle, you can make good money in sales.
When I was looking for a sales career, I knew I wanted to sell something that I could be passionate about. It was the early ‘90s and I knew how to use new software like PageMaker and Photoshop. I loved that I would be selling something utilizing desktop publishing and design skills. I also considered teaching at one point, so it felt like being a yearbook rep would be perfect fit.
As my career progressed, I went from being passionate about working with schools and growing my territory to helping others build their yearbook careers. Once this is in your blood, it’s hard to think about doing anything else.
(laughs) Well I don’t know if I have a typical day, it often depends on what time of year it is. For example, we're getting ready for NSM (Walsworth’s National Sales Meeting) right now. We just had a big three-day meeting with the sales managers building the agenda.
This week, Jim (Worthington) and I, with the help of three area managers, just wrapped up our comp plan bonus review and allocations. Attracting and retaining the right people for our sales team is always a top priority and getting incentive comp right is a big piece of that.
Customer facing technology is another important part of what must be front and center. I spend a lot of time with Mike Sargent and Susan Smith, making sure our technology priorities hit the mark. With customer expectations increasing every year, I’m grateful we have such a great team with so many people that are passionate about what we do.
And talking about passion, I love working with Brenda Search, Michelle Brosemer, Laurie Cupp and all of the amazing people in Customer Relations to ensure our schools and sales reps have the inside support needed to help meet their goals.
Being truly family owned and not having to make decisions beholden to shareholders, or investment bankers, it's allowed us to focus on the things that really matter for our schools. Whether it's the cool things we do in marketing or being able to invest in people differently than our competitors.
We love being on a mountain in the winter and on the water in the summer. It’s been so much fun watching our kids enjoy snow skiing and water skiing. They are also at ages where school sports and competitive dance are taking over, and it has been a blast being on the sideline.
Jennings is 15, Greyson is 13 and Charlotte is 11
Tuesdays with Morrie; I could relate to the mentor, mentee relationship at the time
Good Will Hunting. And now it’s Jennings’ favorite movie. It drives me crazy but now that the kids are older, they don’t want to watch movies as much with us anymore, which used to be a Sunday night tradition.
Q39, but it’s awesome having access to so many good options.
Vail or Breckenridge for the mountains, but we love getting back out to California as much as we can.
My wife and I are Australian Shepherd addicts. We have two right now and Jocelyn wants a third. A fun star struck story about our first Australian Shepherd, Tucker, is the time he sat on Dustin Hoffman’s lap while taking a break from shooting a scene of I heart Huckabees, which was being filmed across the street from our house.
“Excitement is contagious.” I realize I can be high energy, which helped me in the field. I hope there are situations in my current role where my excitement for an idea or project leads to getting things done.
The evolution from paste-up to company mount to PDF page submission and Online Design is the obvious answer. But the increased enthusiasm for our product coming out of COVID has been a game changer no one saw coming. We used to have to fight to hold onto buy rate and page counts, now we are seeing pages go up and a record number of reorders due to schools selling out.
There have been several, but my proudest memory was just two seasons ago when a bunch of sales reps and all the sales managers came to the plant to work when we were facing a unique delivery year. It was a moment when we learned how much people cared. It also helped us get to know people on the inside and gain a new appreciation for all they do.
It’s not lip service when we say this is a family-owned company that cares about family. That’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed here for 30 years. People care, especially when things aren’t going awesome, and they really lean in. Everybody here cares about each other and each person is passionate about what they do. It really is like a family.