Experience Speaks: Michael R. Pfaff

  • President of Gallus Printing Machinery Corp.
  • Management style | Hands-on
  • Personal hero | Ronald Reagan
  • How did you get into the converting business? Through the die-cutting door. I worked for a pioneering company in the rotary die business, which eventually landed me here at Gallus.

    What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out? That one must trust but also verify!

  • What is the biggest threat to the converting industry right now? Pricing pressure coupled with more and more demands for higher quality. Converters have to make a profit to stay in business, just like anyone else. Burning their candle at both ends makes it extremely difficult for them to simultaneously invest in new technology and provide all the customized product and lightning-quick service that package buyers demand.

  • What's the key to growing a business in a bad economy? Demonstrate that your product or service is one expense that shouldn't — or can't — be cut.

  • How do you retain good employees? Just pay 'em fairly, treat 'em like adults, and challenge them to continually grow.

  • What's the best advice you ever got? “Walk in like you own the place.”

  • What's the worst advice? “If the truth is ugly, just tell 'em what they want to hear and sort it out later.”

  • What's the biggest mistake you made and how did you fix it? Tough to choose just one — I have made some doozies! The mistakes — like overpromising — that cost your credibility are probably the worst, as it takes a lot of time and effort to win it back. Better to deliver the news accurately and then focus on getting the problem solved. At least you limit the damage to one problem, and don't create another.

  • What sustainability efforts has your company made? Although building printing equipment is not inherently a heavy polluting kind of business, we are extremely conscious of doing our part as a concerned corporate citizen. The in-line machine systems we supply offer a very sustainable way to produce packaging. They use less paper, less energy, and less labor, and this is our biggest contribution to the idea of sustainability.

  • Do you have any hobbies? I love to play golf — as tough as my job is, golf is even tougher! I also collect music CDs — all different kinds. Music helps me relax and rejuvenate and sometimes helps spur some pretty creative thinking.

  • What are the key qualities of a successful leader? The ability to make people want to follow you of their own volition. Coercion doesn't work; it runs counter to human nature.

About Gallus Printing Machinery Corp.

  • 2800 Black Lake Pl., Philadelphia, PA 19154

  • Headquarters in Switzerland; www.gallus-group.com

  • Founded 1923; 565 employees; 4 plants

  • Specialization | Printing/converting machines and services for folding carton and label manufacturers

What's the best advice you ever got? Share your perspective. Write to yolanda.simonsis@penton.com.


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