“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.
Print Three North Bay is under new ownership, but by no means is Dayna Panay a rookie in the field.
“I worked at Print Three franchising head office 34 years ago, when this centre in North Bay started,” says Panay who watched the print/marketing industry completely change and adapt over time.
“I started working with Print Three in their warehouse as a film stripper and they sent me to Xerox school and I learned how to operate a DocuTech, which is one of the original digital printing presses,” she says.
“From there I moved into the office and I was supporting some of the centres with how to use their equipment on a technical level. As time evolved I learned how to then help those centres with more of their software needs.”
She says this meant staying ahead of the curve as the technology became more advanced.
“The biggest challenge I had was when I was supporting the physical printers and they were evolving into computers, I had to teach all of that to myself. I would do trade shows and I would demonstrate these new printers at the time that were plugged directly into the computers and I was terrified about something going wrong and so the night before I would pour over manuals and training books and trying to figure anything out so that I was prepared for any challenge that might occur at these shows. One of the things I was doing was as technology changed, was testing the software and actually breaking it, and finding the bugs. So when you’re doing that, you have to learn how everything works, and by nature, what doesn’t work,” she says.
Panay adds, “Print Three was actually one of the founding companies that started the web to print model. This gives them the ability to do things such as putting their business card online and all their employees can access that file, put in their own information and purchase an order. That way the brand is protected because that is embedded and it’s only the personal information that they can change, they can’t change fonts or colours its all consistent with the brand, which is important in the corporate environment.”
Originally from the Toronto area, Panay says she got to a point where she felt that her work-life balance was leaning too heavily to the work side of the equation.
“When I was down south, I would get up at 5 a.m. and I would prepare myself for the day and then I had two young children that I had to get ready for the day and have them at the bus stop by 7 a.m. Then I would travel to my job, which was about an hour to an hour and a half commute and once I was at work, I had negotiated that I would give up my lunch hour every day and then leave work at 4 p.m. so I could start my commute back. I would get my kids between 5-5:30 p.m. get them home and fed and get them in bed and then collapse around 8 p.m. and have maybe about an hour of my own time before I was in bed and ready to do the whole thing over again the next day. On my sons tenth birthday I looked at him and realized that I’m missing it all.”
Panay says she approached her bosses to see if working from home could be an option as her job could be done remotely. She got the ok from her bosses and has been working from home since 2016. But that also brought another realization for Panay.
“I decided that if I was going to work from home, my home would be where I truly felt home is. My relatives are from the North Bay area, but my roots are in the Golden Valley, my ancestors are from here and so this is really where home is for me and my kids.”
During the pandemic the owner of the local Print Three store passed away and Panay says, “His wife approached head office and said that they had had plans to move to Ottawa and after 34 years of working and supporting that centre, I really didn’t want to see it close. I scratched together basically every penny I had and approached the President of Print Three and said ‘this is what I have to offer, see if a deal can be made and I will take it over.’ We came to a deal and now here I am trying to keep it alive and move it forward.”
Taking over a business is never an easy undertaking, let alone in this current COVID-19 climate. But Panay says there are some benefits of having been in this business for three decades.
“The benefit that I have now is my connections not only with the other franchises but the suppliers as well. If I’m not sure of what to do with a certain situation, I can pick up the phone and reach out to another franchise and I get that guidance. In return, I also know who the better suppliers are and the more cost-effective suppliers and I have those relationships. It’s funny to see their reaction when I say ‘oh, by the way, I just bought Print Three North Bay.’”
Panay says putting yourself out there and proving you are the best option for people is what will eventually help grow your business.
“One of the biggest challenges when taking over a business is just trying to retain and win over new customers and I just took that approach of winning one at a time. I had a restaurant owner come in and told me he needed menus and he needed them that day, but he was upfront and said that he had looked at another company as well. He said if I could do half of them in one day I would get the whole order. Well we made it happen and later that day he called and said I’ve now got his business. So it’s one customer at a time.”
Panay says she has also been able to invest in the business itself.
“I’ve upgraded all of the equipment in the centre. I’ve brought in a prime link printer that is the only one in the area that will digitally print gold, silver, white and fluorescent colours. We’ve always been good at offering engineering designs and now we have one that can do that in colour. By upgrading the technology that means I am actually able to produce the product for a bit cheaper than before and that means I have been able to decrease my pricing during COVID, which has really helped people find me and want to place their orders with me.”
Panay says one of the new services Print Three is offering is linking together all your social media platforms through a website. She says this is a design, which is “geared toward small and medium-sized business.”
“If someone was to opt-in for one of these websites, one of the things we could do is offer them a blog. It could be a printed product that would go on a blog and then it would automatically go out onto all their social media accounts. It’s pretty remarkable to see what we’ve done, I mean when I first started at the company we had not even heard of the Internet! With 'web to print' the clients can see and change everything online, we can send them a physical copy if they want before they approve it, but with it online they can change what they want themselves and make it the way they want before it gets approved to be printed.”
But not every transaction can be a smooth one and Panay says its all about understanding your clients and their needs.
“This is a business where you can have some customers that can be very particular,” she says.
“There was one job that I had that I was very nervous about and it was a big job. They had six or seven locations and they needed hundreds of copies of this document that we had created. I was dealing with their head office in the United States and there were a lot of concerns about the communications between franchises, the US offices and us.
"They placed the orders and I was very nervous about the franchises not getting what they wanted because the direction was coming from the US. When I got the first two orders I decided I would do a mock-up of what the actual product would look like. That way the franchises got a good feel for what they were getting and my gut was right because it was not what they were expecting and they needed a change. But they weren’t authorized to make those changes themselves, so that all had to go back to the head office first.
"They got the proof re-done and then we were able to go ahead with the order. That was just a matter of knowing the situation and learning where the communications might break down along the line. A lot of companies don’t do that physical proof anymore and in this case that was actually still relevant.”
Panay says the big push has been on buying local and one of the top competitors in this market space is the online Vista Print website.
“I can’t compete with them on price, just because of the way they do things, they are able to bundle a whole bunch of product at one time whereas, in that same time in which they have done 100 orders, I’ve taken the time and care to do one order,” says Panay.
“There are two things I’d want to point out; number one is that their logo will be on your product and that their quality won’t hold up to your specific brand requirements. Their machines are calibrated to produce for the masses and your colours will not match up from product to product. The other thing I’d want to point out is that Print Three has always been known for two things, quality and quick turn around. So by ordering locally from Print Three you know you’re getting quality, and your brand, and consistent colours, and getting the product quickly without paying high shipping fees.”
Panay is excited about the future of owning a print centre in the Gateway City.
“The beauty of buying the print shop now is that since my kids are older they are quite interested in being there. My son wants to get in to graphic design and my daughter who is about to be 12, she wants to work the counter and I said ‘well I can’t hire you until you’re 14 but you can help!’ She’s quite ready to learn the ropes. They love the fact that it is mine and they love the fact that it is something they can grow into.”
If you have a story suggestion for the “Jobs of the Future” series, send Matt an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.