Taking up a new role at your employer can be a daunting and scary task at the best of times, let alone when the industry you work in is in the midst of a global health crisis that has and continues to cause untold disruption to business and supply chains.

Embarking on a new career can be even more daunting, including learning a new discipline, meeting new colleagues, and integrating yourself into a new business. When you factor in remote working, social distancing and the practice of furloughing employees that has been necessitated by the 2019/20 coronavirus pandemic, this is multiplied many times over.

Here, we talk to those starting new jobs and progressing their careers in print to find out about the reality of being in this position.

‘The biggest impact has definitely been on the introduction and induction process, which is understandable,’ explains Pete Ford, new business development manager at KM Packaging. Mr Ford has taken up his new role after a decade working in the flexible packaging industry, first as production technical manager at FFP Packaging Solutions, then as technical and innovations manager at Discovery Flexibles, before moving on to Parkside Flexibles Europe as its new business development manager.

For Mr Ford, the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic has prevented him from getting to meet and work with his new colleagues, ‘and for both sides to understand how we both work.’

He continues, ‘The other major impact is the possibility to get sales calls in with past and new contacts. Most people I have spoken to or made contact with recently have been concentrating on keeping their factories flowing and foodstuffs reaching the supermarket shelves. The thought of looking at new suppliers or products is simply not feasible at this point in time.

‘For me personally, the ability to get in the office initially and then out to meet customers again will be a great relief and something I will relish.’

‘I miss the real face-to-face contact with my customers and prospects,’ affirms Wim Koning, sales manager at Spain’s Macarbox. ‘I would normally travel to my customers in Holland, Austria, Germany and Switzerland a few days per week. This has stopped of course, with meetings being done via phone, WhatsApp and Zoom.’

Mr Koning is a digital print industry veteran, having joined Xerox in the Netherlands back in 1990, and returning to its European operation in the mid-2000s after a couple of years with HP Indigo. Over the last decade, he has worked with inkjet printing specialist Screen Europe and Israel-based Highcon, a digital cutting and creasing innovator, as well as running his own business development consultancy. His latest position, which also commenced in March, sees him acting as sales manager for Macarbox, covering Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands.

Macarbox manufactures converting machinery for corrugated board. As well as a corrugator line and folder gluers, Marabox’s portfolio includes DPM, a high-speed single-pass drop-on-demand large format printing machine under development, and LCD, its digital laser cutting offer for laser cutting and creasing of corrugated board.

Another industry veteran to have recently taken up a new role is Paul Bromley, now EMEA sales manager at printIQ Europe. Mr Bromley has previously worked with Grasmere Press/Digital Imaging, K2 Direct, Presstek, Esko, GMG Color and Duplo.

‘My role within printIQ has been directly impact based on the industry’s response to the pandemic, both positively, and also as you would expect an air of caution has had to be applied.’

Mr Bromley adds that such a scenario means it may not be appropriate to actively push and promote products, ‘as you do not know how companies are collectively responding or if they remain open or even have a future due to the unprecedented situation that has seen the whole world plunged into the unknown.

‘The ultimate respect must be shown in this period and a move towards support and being informative and allowing customers to approach you, which has happened.’


All those starting and/or progressing their careers in print at this time have been impressed by the industry’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. From labels and packaging to keep food and beverages moving through distribution chains, to printed items to help maintain social distancing and safe working environments, and even manufacturing face masks and other PPE products that have been in high demand.

Mr Ford says, ‘I feel the industry have risen to the challenges that have come from this pandemic showing once again how adaptable and more importantly how crucial a role the industry plays in today’s society. Ultimately the shelves have remained stocked even when at the start of the pandemic lead to panic buying by many consumers and this is only able to be the case by the concerted efforts of everyone within the supply chain.’

Mr Bromley says, ‘I personally think that key industry organisations and publications have reacted in an excellent manner in promoting the need for print and the importance it plays, whilst liaising with the government to share information. Key industry bodies have gone the extra mile to share details in simple form and in plain English to help printers and they should be acknowledged for the part they are playing.

Mr Koning highlights Switzerland’s Flyerline, which has brought to market a complete new portfolio of products to help protect against the virus. This includes pop-up banners, posters and floor decals to highlight distancing, face masks and sneeze guards, and collection bins for face masks and disposable gloves. ‘That’s what I call smart and agile,’ says Mr Koning.

‘I unfortunately have also seen that when you are in commercial print the loss in revenue can be dramatic. I hope all companies in our sector can keep their head above the water.’

Mr Bromley adds, ‘I remember a previous crisis that personally hit my family hard due to my father’s business going into liquidation although the current crisis is appearing to hit every single family in the world.’

Step by step

Mr Koning expects things to return to some form of normality, ‘step by step. I think everybody is urgently waiting for that.’ 

He quips, ‘Perhaps handshaking will not be part of business ethics over the coming year, we will see. Elbow shaking could be an alternative.’

The questions and challenges around the role that packaging will have to play moving forward, to provide some reassurance to the consumer, have already started to be realised at KM Packaging, according to Mr Ford. He expects this to continue.

‘It will be interesting to see how this pandemic will affect consumer behaviours from a social, economic and lifestyle point of view, and how packaging will be affected by all of these changes.’

Falling in to a career in packaging rather than deliberately setting out to work in it was, ‘very lucky for me and many others that I know,’ says Mr Ford. ‘I love the industry and what I am able to do within it. This passion for the industry hasn’t been dampened it is just yet another time where we need to be flexible and innovative in our offerings to the consumer, as always, so many more and new challenges ahead.’

Mr Bromley says, ‘My role has always been driven by offering unparalleled effort and support, and this won’t change although I hope it would benefit many companies as I will always openly share ideas/methods. Ultimately I am an industry consultant, which is the correct approach and offers more value to a business rather than selling solutions that fix a need now – what about things you aren’t doing or markets you could approach.’

He continues, ‘I am really excited looking to the future with printIQ due to the early success we have had and the benefits we can offer with the solution we have. Our web offering is proven in other worldwide regions with a large install base and we are eagerly approaching the European market with unbelievable feedback to date.’

Of his new role, Mr Koning says, ‘I am very excited to be part of the new Spanish kid in town, Macarbox. Its technology for corrugated is absolutely fabulous. This counts for its flexo folder gluer, digital printing, corrugator line, and 100% digital solution for cutting and creasing corrugated sheets.’

In the next instalment of this series, you will hear more from those who have started and are progressing their careers in print, including some well-known faces and those new to print

Read more about cutting-edge digital package printing and converting technologies in the May/June issue of Digital Labels & Packaging; register here to receive the magazine for free

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