1/1 Interview with Rock LaManna, Executive Coach for the Printing Industry

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I am fortunate to attend several industry events each year and even more so when I am able to participate in them. Such was the case this year at SGIA EXPO in Las Vegas where I presented a session titled “Understanding Todays Print Buyer.”  Speaking at events is awesome not only because you get to meet and share with people who come to listen to your session, but you also are exposed to the other speakers at the event since you are listed with them… and these people might never have you on their radar without this experience. Rock LaManna is one of those industry titans.

I have been following Rock for a while and I was happy to find out he would be speaking at SGIA Expo. I had planned on going to his session, but it was even nicer that I happened to run into him beforehand while I was talking with Sondra Benoudiz from SGIA. He actually knew who I was, which always surprises me, but that also made it easier to ask him for an interview and to work with PMC to help the Print Business owners out there! 

Stay tuned for details on a new his new PMC feature, but for now please meet a really cool, and smart guy who is in the business of helping others… we like that!

DC: Who is Rock LaManna and what does he do?

RL: I was born and raised in St. Paul Minnesota. I had a powerful childhood, and in fact, I had a blast- faith, family and friends. I was all about sports, games and fun! Fun was winning at whatever I choose to partake in. And the games always involved a strategy, people and teamwork. Over the years, I developed and listened to wise, respectful and gifted people – teachers, coaches, family and friends and many of these relationships remain to this day. Well it paid off, the commitment to education and entrepreneurship all carried over in my passions for business and life. I made – and – learned from – lots of different business investments and opportunities. I studied and learned from the best mentors and became friends with other talented people in the industry. I now reside in South East, Florida. I spend my time building relationships, businesses and investing in life’s opportunities. I am the Founder and President CEO of the LaManna Alliance and I continue to appreciate my deep faith, the gratitude for life and my satisfactions in serving others.

The LaManna Alliance provides expert Business Advisory and Consulting Services for printing and allied industries. We’re an alliance of business consultants, but what makes us unique is we start from a company’s financials and build strategy based on that foundation. Before we recommend anything, we make sure we understand a company from a qualitative and quantitative perspective.  From that basis, we then build strategies, which may include organic growth, mergers and acquisitions, or exit and succession planning. 

DC: Does your specialty graphics experience apply to all facets of printing? 

RL: It does. We focus on all printing and allied industries, including converting, finishing, cutting, slitting, advertising, and products, such as cartons, films, plastics or paper.

DC: In your opinion, what are three growth areas for printers?

RL: People feel the need to run to the latest technologies or the hot new printing press. But there are endless opportunities to improve your bottom line through more astute business moves. 

In that context, number one would be lean manufacturing, or what we now refer to as lean operations. Simply be refining your processes, you can improve profitability – often substantially. 

For the second growth area – many companies aren’t aware of all the growth potential through mergers and acquisitions and strategic alliances and partnering. The growth can be in the double-digit range. The M&A is no longer just the purview of the big dogs, either. Smaller companies can do an M&A if there is a synergistic opportunity.

And number three would be new technologies that are synergistic with your company. Don’t just keep up with the Joneses when it comes to your growth plans; enhance what’s profitable.  

Do these three seem boring to you?  They might, but is profit boring? Is being a sustainable business boring? Businesses who build strategy with a keen eye on their financials can yawn all the way to the bank. 

DC: I believe you have 11 brothers and sisters! What number are you and did growing up in such a large family help hone your problem solving skills? 

RL: Growing up in a big family, and working for a family business, gave me an in-depth understanding of how a family business operates. I bang the drum about understanding your financials when it comes to developing strategy, but you’d be amazed how many clients just want help on dealing with their brother or their son in terms of the business. 

I was number 5 of 11 kids. I worked for my father for years, side-by-side with my siblings. You learn a lot about family dynamics in that context. You learn what you can resolve on your own, and when you need to bring in outside help.

I’m blessed to have been in that situation. I learned so much about problem solving from my parents. In each of us, they instilled strong family values based on faith, integrity and family unity. And as anyone knows, that’s ultimately what makes the difference in a business.

DC: We are about to kick-off “Get a Piece of The Rock,” an advice column where you will answer questions from the community.  What areas and topics will you cover?

RL: I’ll focus on the key financials for every business, and how it can lead to profitable organic growth, M&As, strategic alliances and also succession plans and exit strategies. I’ll also talk about leadership and present family business case studies.

DC: I know you recently began focusing on social media to grow your contacts and expand your client base. What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?

RL: It’s been quite a ride. I started out with a few contacts and a reluctance to dive into social media. Now we are extremely active on Twitter and LinkedIn, and see exceptional results. 

The reason for our success isn’t that we just signed up for a Twitter account. We developed a complete inbound marketing strategy, with quality content as the basis for all of our outreach. It reaches every aspect of what we do – our social media, our website, and our lead nurturing. 

As a result, I would have to say that the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that for all the fancy technology out there, good marketing still relies on quality strategy, discipline, focus and consistency. And hey, don’t forget investment. You want in, you’ve got to commit.

DC: Lastly, if you were to give the commencement speech at the Harvard Business School from where you hold a degree, what advice would you give to graduates entering the printing business?

RL: Ask yourself these questions: Why are you going into the business? What are your ROI expectations? What is your vision? What is your risk tolerance? What amount of capital is available to invest in your venture? Who’s in charge? Who and what qualifications does your leadership and management have to execute the vision?

The business-person with the courage to ask those questions, and more importantly, answer them, will be the winner in the long run.