rob ford: the printer mayor (nov 2010)

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  • PM40010868 R10907 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to 4580 Dufferin St., Suite 404, Toronto ON M3H 5Y2PM40010868 R10907 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to 4580 Dufferin St., Suite 404, Toronto ON M3H 5Y2 1.866.689.2677


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    In this issue, PrintAction pays tribute to CanadasMost Influential Printer of 2010. But I also want torecognize the accomplishments of another printer

    who this year put our industry on the map with hisvictorious campaign to become the 64th mayor ofToronto: Rob Ford, CFO and principal of Deco Labelsand Tags. Although pre-election polls showed Fordwas running neck and neck with his nearest con-tender, former Ontario Health Minister, GeorgeSmitherman, Ford swept to victory on October 25with a whopping lead of 93,669 votes. He is set to takeover as mayor on December 1. As far as I know, it willbe the first time a printer has occupied the citys may-oral office since William Lyon Mackenzie was electedTorontos first mayor in 1834.

    Deco customer focusPrior to the election, in his capacity as a label printer,Ford addressed the September 2010 Packaging Sum-mit in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The Summitwas organized jointly by the Canadian Council ofGrocery Distributors and PAC The Packaging Asso-ciation to advance two urgent agendas in packaging:food safety and environmental sustainability. Decos250 staff members in Toronto, Chicago, and New Jer-sey generate about $30 million in annual revenuesfrom customers that include some of the worldslargest food companies and retailers.

    Ford began his speech with the good news that la-bels and packaging both enjoy healthy prospects forthe future: Every product needs a label and packag-ing. Manufacturers keep inventing new products andimproving old ones, he enthused.

    Next Ford cited the two most important rules helearned from his father, Doug Ford Sr., Decosfounder: Rule Number One is the customer is always

    right. Rule Number Two is reread Rule Number One,the customer is always right. Ford went on to remindthe audience how important it is to listen to cus-tomers, to understand the markets they work in andthe challenges they face: If we know what they needto succeed in their goals, we can figure out a way tohelp them do it. And when they succeed, we succeed,he emphasized. Ford remarked later that, in his previ-ous 10 years as a City Councillor for Ward 2 Etobi-coke North, he pursued these same values by workingdiligently to understand the people and businessesthat were his constituents, and provide them with ex-cellent customer service and reduced red tape.

    Fords Packaging-Summit speech continued: Yearsago, food production was decentralized and regional,but today with more centralized food production,there is more risk of infection from bacteria andviruses. E coli bacteria in packaged spinach took threelives in the U.S.A., tainted carrot juice put people onlife support, there was a chocolate bar recall at theHershey plant, people became sick from tainted let-tuce sold through a major restaurant chain [all fourcases in 2006], and widespread listeria cost Maple LeafFoods billions of dollars [in 2008]. With such hazardsin mind, Ford announced that Deco will become thefirst pressure-sensitive-label company in Canada to becertified under PACSecure, PACs food-safety pro-gram incorporating the stringent requirements ofHACCP (the Hazardous Analysis and Critical Con-trol Points certification process widely employed byNorth American food manufacturers.)

    Six companies have already qualified for certifi-cation under PACSecure standards in Canada, butDeco Labels will be the first label company, con-firmed Larry Dworkin, PACs Government RelationsDirector. Dworkin specified that among the chal-lenges Deco must meet for certification is ensuringthat their adhesives, inks, dyes and even things like

    Rob Ford: The Printer Mayor

    Doug, Rob and Randy Ford at their West Toronto plant, founded 48 years ago by their father.

    Rob Ford makes his way towards the podiumamong his supporters and the media at his

    victory celebration on October 25.Photo: The Canadian Press/Michael Hudson

    by Victoria Gaitskell

  • motor oils are all food-grade materials.If something goes wrong in the manufac-turing process, contaminants can migratethrough the materials. Food-grade mate-rials retard the possibility of contamina-tion, but they are also more expensive,Dworkin explained. To be certified, labelprinters must obtain their suppliers as-surance that their materials do not containany contaminants in the form of bannedor harmful substances. This process maybe complicated by the fact that the suppli-ers want to keep their manufacturing for-mulas under wraps. Additionally, up untilrecently one of the major areas of recallswas issues about the wrong label going ona package, so we have included extrachecks specifically against label mixing.

    Dworkin explained further how Decosplan to become PACSecure-certified is cus-tomer-driven: Major food retailers andmanufacturers are starting to ask for writ-ten guarantees that packaging and labelcompanies have done the appropriate test-ing all the way down the line to ensure theirproducts are food-safe. Otherwise its just amatter of time before theyll stop buyingfrom them.

    The PACSecure standards were devel-oped and tested under field trial about threeyears ago by over 100 packaging convertersand their customers and the CanadianFood Inspection Agency, Dworkin contin-ued. To the best of our knowledge, interms of the packaging industry, they are

    the most compre-hensive standardsanywhere in theworld. So by be-coming certified webelieve Deco Labelsis really breakingsome ground forthe label industryworldwide.

    Additionally, inhis Packaging-Summit speech Ford ob-served, that because consumers are increas-ingly concerned about the environment, hiscustomers face continual pressure to reducethe environmental impact of packaging.Accordingly, he announced, that among thestrategies, Deco will continue to develop toreduce waste and energy consumption intheir plants, they will implement a full




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    Continued on page 32

    As the campaign drew to a close, somecandidates employedless than noble tacticsin order to draw crucialpercentage points.

    Printer for Mayor Business and politics mix everyday at Deco Labels and Tags

    Excerpts from the July 2010 issue of

    Committing to public serviceAbout his move from printing to pol-itics, Rob explains: I was raised to giveback to the community, but I was alsofrustrated with the system and the citycouncillors in my area. The last strawcame when I called them many timesabout an enormous pothole on the streetwhere I lived, and they never returnedmy calls. Thats when I decided to entermunicipal politics myself.

    Fords war on spendingOne of the most publicized parts ofRobs platform is his intention to re-form spending at City Hall. My fatherused to say if you watch the pennies,the dollars will take care of them-selves, he says. Just as in business, itsimportant to get the Citys finances inorder especially since Torontos 2010budget is $9.2 billion plus another $2.4billion for capital expenses biggernumbers than for some countries inthe world, he says.

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    waste-recovery program in the first quarterof 2011 that includes returning the card-board cores and liners from label rolls totheir suppliers for recycling. Ford con-cluded his speech by saying that Decos lat-est pioneering measures are helping hiscompany achieve leadership status in theindustry.

    A printer whounderstands marketingFords campaign for mayor focused on hispromises to lower taxes, to improve suchbasic services as garbage collection, roads,and subways, and especially his trademarkpledge to stop the gravy train (over-spending and waste of taxpayers dollars)that he believes has grossly inflatedTorontos $11.6-billion budget.

    Although Fords message was simple,even his rivals admitted that he ran themost sophisticated campaign in a mayoralrace that Toronto has ever seen and that heconducted it with a level of discipline thatis admirable (to quote from the October-18th issue of Macleans).

    Former Ontario Premier Mike Harrisand other commentators agreed that theFord campaigns strength lay largely in thefact that it delivered a clear, uncomplicatedmessage that was based on a equally clearbrand of who Ford is and an understand-ing of who his target voters were. The elec-tion results confirm that both Fordsmessage and brand resonated with manyTorontonians, who have faced recent cut-backs at home and at work and who aremore concerned with how municipal gov-ernment affects their daily lives than withthe grandiose urban-development schemesand luxurious perks sought by self-servingpoliticians.

    Technically speaking, the success ofFords campaign also lay in its combinationof traditional communication methodswith cheap but highly sophisticated tele-phone-based voter-identification tech-niques borrowed from Barack Obama. Allin all, and contrary to the over-used profes-sional stereotype that printers dont under-stand how to market themselves, Ford hasclearly shown himself to be a master of ef-fective marketing techniques.

    Another impressive feature of his cam-paign was his consistent refusal to stoopto the low level of personal attacks thathis opponents regularly lobbied againsthim, everything from his lack of polish tohis stance on immigration. Perhaps most infamously, The Globe and Mail pub-lished, then on second thought obliter-ated from its Website, an October 15column loaded with insults about Fordsweight. Nick Kouvalis, a member ofFords campaign team, told hundreds offollowers assembled at a mid-Septemberbarbeque that, although Fords support-ers kept stockpiling their campaign head-quarters with similar ammunition against

    Gaitskell Continued from page 17


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    Fords opponents, Ford refused to detractfrom the issues by engaging in any retal-iatory personal attacks.

    Rather than alienate voters, his oppo-nents dirty tactics only seemed to increasepublic sympathy for Ford, while reinforc-ing the notion that his rivals were con-sumed more with image than the seriousissues facing Toronto. As the media gleefullykept on reporting the worst about him,Ford remained like the Energizer Bunnywho just keeps on beating his drum. The re-solve with which he stayed on messagewithout flinching or returning insults is tes-tament to the mans inner convictions andtoughness.

    Another of Fords remarkable assetshas been the support he has received fromhis family members notably his broth-ers Randy and Doug in helping him runa highly demanding business alongside anintense political campaign. Such familysolidarity is a hallmark of the Canadianprinting industry.

    Additionally, in May 2010, the Fordsbrought Leonard Rudner, a 35-year veteranof the pressure-sensitive label industry, out

    of semi-retirementto help them buildtheir business fur-ther in Canada andthe U.S. as DecosVice President ofSales and Market-ing. Now all fourare meeting to de-cide how to dividemore of the busi-ness responsibili-

    ties between Rudner and Fords oldestbrother Randy (who is Decos Vice Presi-dent of Operations), since on October 25 a72-percent majority elected Doug to joinRob at city hall as the replacement CityCouncillor in Robs old ward.

    A new page in Canadian historyCanadas list of printer-politicians is pres-tigious but short. It includes Joe Dickson,owner of Dickson Printing Ltd., formerAjax-Ontario City Councillor and currentMember of Provincial Parliament (MPP)for Ajax-Pickering. Others on the list areElmer Roper (1893-1994), owner of Com-merical Printers Limited, former MPP andmayor of Edmonton, Alberta; as well asRopers son and business successor Lyall,who was an Edmonton city councillor.

    William Lyon Mackenzie (1795-1861),meanwhile, was a print shop owner inQueenston and Toronto, Ontario, MPP forUpper Canada (later the Province ofCanada), as well as the first mayor ofToronto. Fords own father, Doug Ford Sr.(1933-2006), served as MPP for Etobicoke-Humber after he retired from the familybusiness.

    Now on behalf of our industry, if I maybe so bold, congratulations to Rob Ford and his brother Doug Ford Jr. forbeing the latest members of the elitegroup of Canadian printers who, in addi-tion to serving their own commercial in-terests, have chosen to serve their fellowcitizens in public office.

    Victoria Gaitskell is a veteran print and online journalist both outside and inside theprinting industry. Her interests include business, personnel, and communicationtrends and strategies. She is keen to sharethoughts and discuss story ideas with readers at [email protected]

    Len Rudner, VP ofSales and Marketing.