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Making His Mark

Ability Abounding

When then-IADD President Greg Zimmer, CEO of Zimmer Industries, Inc., was defining the criteria for the 2011 IADD Presidential Award, he kept coming back to the word “ability”: capability, responsibility, accountability, dependability, reliability, likeability, availability, and leadership ability.

Such an impressive list of qualities might have proven hard to find, but fortunately, Zimmer did not have to look far. Over the past several years, Bob Pettijohn, President of Mark-Maker Company, Inc., in Wyoming, MI, USA, has quietly, yet effectively, been making his mark on the Association, most recently as the IADD’s first Vice President of Membership.

Bob Pettijohn – President

In this role, Pettijohn chairs the Membership Committee, and he has built upon some foundational activities to fire up the Association’s member recruitment and retention efforts. Despite what can be politely be described as several challenging years hampered further by a difficult economy, Pettijohn kept a keen focus on the drive for membership as a cornerstone strategy for IADD’s success and continued viability. He helped develop and implement the membership mentor program, paring up experienced members with new members to maximize value and connection in those first critical months. His suggestions to create or fine tune various reports, allowed Board Directors and Chapter Officers to become involved in the recruitment and orientation process. By increasing the visibility of membership activities, he’s made membership everyone’s responsibility.

His unwavering in-and generous support of-IADD, has aided in the recent turnaround of declining membership. Under his leadership, the IADD has increased its communication with and engagement of members, with many positive results, including a number of former members who are now returning to the association.

As a longtime Board Member, Pettijohn is a proactive leader, seeing trends and opportunities, and sharing his thoughts and suggestions to make IADD a better association for all. One idea led to revamping the evaluation form used for midyear and annual meetings, increasing both the response rate and quality. He’s always open to others’ thoughts and ideas, is not afraid of change and constantly seeks to keep IADD fresh and relevant. Pettijohn also supports everything from local meetings to the bi-annual Odyssey Trade Show.

As Zimmer explains, “Bob is someone who never shies away from IADD projects or tasks, and if he agrees to taking something on, you can rest assured that it will be completed, done well and followed up on to the very end.

Focused Leadership; Good Values

Clearly the leadership style which led Pettijohn to receive this award is a direct reflection of his business philosophy. He says, “At Mark-Maker, we treat customers and suppliers like we would want to be treated, with respect and honesty. We have a company Mission Statement that reads: ‘Our mission as a supplier of flexographic printing plates and steel rule cutting dies is to be a company that is customer and product focused. Through employee teamwork and customer partnerships, we provide quality products and services to meet their expectations. We strive to be open minded, ethical, professional and honest in dealing with our internal and external customers through focused leadership and good values. We are driven by the voice of our customers in a never ending effort to improve. This is based upon empowerment, commitment and training of our employees. Through teamwork, we challenge each person to grow and improve the quality of life, services and products’ ”

He explains that Robert Stout, who founded Mark-Maker in 1970, said: “The job can be done better than “just good enough” when you take pride in the skills that produce a product. Pride in oneself is born when people dare to achieve levels above what they thought themselves capable of doing.” Pettijohn adds: “Company Teamwork and Customer Partnership is not just a saying at Mark-Maker Company; it is our philosophy. Our leadership prides themselves on integrity and dealing fairly with customers, suppliers and employees.”

Obviously they are doing something right, as the average employee tenure at Mark-Maker is over 16 years. Pettijohn credits this to the company treating employees with respect, as well as providing opportunities for employees to be involved with making decisions, offering suggestions and being a part of the quality process.

Pettijohn elaborates, “When I look at the strength of the company, most of that comes from the employees. I try to surround myself with knowledgeable people who can be trusted to work hard to get the job done. Whether it is an employee, our banker, our accountant or someone else I deal with, I know I need to have faith in that person and trust that they are working alongside me to do what is best for Mark-Maker.

Lastly, one has to constantly look for and expect changes in all aspects of the business. Years ago, our management staff read the book ”Who Moved My Cheese”, by Spencer Johnson. Change will happen; we need to anticipate change, we need to monitor change and adapt to change. In business, it is not always easy to enjoy change, but if we try, we can work together through the changes. With the help of good technology, loyal customers, quality products and a great staff of employees, we will continue to be a positive force in the industry.”

Getting Involved

Pettijohn felt a strong desire to get more involved, so he decided to volunteer for committee service, and then eventually was elected to the Board. He says, “IADD participation has provided me with an opportunity to grow personally and professionally. I have benefited from the relationships and advice that others in the industry have offered me, and the networking that takes place at IADD meetings has been extremely valuable to me and to my business. Whether it is another business owner, a supplier or a speaker that I get the chance to spend time with, we always seem to have some new avenues to explore once we get back to work, and we enjoy bouncing ideas off each other. The people that we have become associated with over the years, we now call friends. I can contact someone across the country or across the continent and I know that I will not only get a response, but it will be handled quickly and efficiently. This is something that I do not think you will find in other associations or the longevity of people in the industry, but IADD and the people associated with it have been a source of my personal and professional growth throughout my career.”

Sharing the Love

Pettijohn loves his business. Over the years, he has served on numerous boards for his church and schools-anything that captures his passion and aligns his faith. Pettijohn firmly believes that he is where he is today “because of my beliefs and the support of my Family. They have always encouraged me in my role at Mark-Maker. I would want to be remembered as a man of God who loved his family and always approached everything with honesty and integrity.”

More Information

Currently, Bob serves as a Chairperson of the IADD Nominations Committee and is a member of the Membership Committee. Totally, he has been a member of the IADD 25+ years, was Vice President of Membership for 6 years, and spent 5 years as a Board Member.

(This article has been re-edited from an article that appeared in “The Cutting Edge” Magazine, Vol. 30, No. 4 - April 2012)