Experience Speaks: John Dion

  • Owner of Dion Label Printing Inc.
  • Management Style | Collegial
  • Hobbies | Kayaking and roller blading with my wife
  • How did you get into the converting business? My father founded the company in his basement with two printing presses, but the company grew so large, he had to move it into the garage! In 1981, my brother and co-owner Dave joined the business, and the company moved to a 5,000-sq-ft facility. Two years later, when I joined the company, the family-owned and operated business was officially complete.

  • Have any management books influenced you? Yes, lots, for about a half-hour. Their philosophies are excellent, and it's important to take key points and apply them to your business model. But, one size does not fit all; you can't try to fit your business structure into something that worked for others but may not work for you.

  • What is the biggest threat to the converting industry right now? Energy prices.

  • What is the key to retaining good employees? Good employees are difficult to find but easier to keep. The single key is to challenge and reward them.

  • Is there one association that is particularly helpful to your business? UMASS Family Business Center.

  • What keeps you up at night with regard to your business? Keeping a healthy balance in your life is important; I sleep well. I try to keep business at work as best as I can. I've learned I am a bigger asset to my company when I'm not exhausted.

  • What sustainability efforts has your company made? We installed energy-efficient lighting, and more than 90% of our waste is transformed into energy pellets that burn much cleaner than coal. We use water-based inks and offer water-based adhesives and biodegradable film. Being able to print digital labels cuts back our waste tremendously.

  • What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out? That I'd have more fun as a professor. I originally started in the education field before pursuing a computer science degree. There's a lot more to running a business than making money. The more your business grows, the more paperwork, responsibility, and precautions that need to be made in order to be successful. Running a business is both risky and rewarding but not necessarily fun.

  • What advice would you give to someone just starting out? It's important to diversify your customers and your product offerings.

  • Do you have a personal hero? My dad. He taught me a lot and set a very good example of how to be a leader and how to live life.

  • Do you have a personal motto? Our business is not life or death. We needn't be too serious about it.

About Dion Label Printing Inc.

  • 539 North Rd., Westfield, MA 01085
  • www.dionlabel.com
  • Founded 1969; 1 plant; 70+ employees
  • Specialization | Pressure-sensitive labels, tags, and tickets

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