News. Events. Ideas. People.
Ask the Expert: Inner City 100 Winner World Pac Paper
Edgar Smith, CEO, World Pac Paper
Ever wonder what drives a CEO of a high-growth inner city company or how they are able to grow amidst a difficult economic landscape? We had the opportunity to talk to Edgar Smith, CEO of World Pac Paper of Cincinnati, about his firm’s success as well as how his firm has become a sensation in what he has previously described as a highly fragmented, hyper-competitive industry.
World Pac Paper is a national distributor of high-quality paper products as well as a provider of packaging solutions. This 2012 Inner City 100 winner services a nationwide clientele ranging from box manufacturers to Fortune 500 companies since its inception in 2004. The company received close to $28 million in revenues in 2010 with an average year-over-year growth rate of 16% between 2006 and 2010 leading to being recognized as the 78th fastest-growing inner city business in the U.S.
Tell us how you started your business and what were the biggest challenges you initially faced?
The concept and idea for the original business strategy for this unique paper company came about some twenty plus years ago. During the early 80’s, I was touched by paper (as it is a major material and cost component for most printing work) while employed as a Sales Representative, in Chicago, Illinois and New York City with R.R. Donnelly & Sons Company, the world’s premier full-service provider of print and related services. Later, this combined with my paper industry experience with industry leaders such as James River Corporation, Georgia-Pacific and Smurfit-Stone, served to solidify my paper industry interest and desires to have a paper distribution company.
It was critically important to me that we had other invested principal executive level company officers with significant experience, knowledge and expertise within the company management to assist with the daily operations of this paper business.
As a company built from the ground up by industry experts, we have combined the best entrepreneurial management with top industry leaders to create this dynamic company.
As the founder and leading member of our management team, the challenge and difficulty of launching and building the business during uneven and uncertain economic times and was buffered by our ability to rely on our previous established business and industry relationships to secure some initial paper business as we worked diligently to establish new relationships to secure future business and opportunities.
What do you like best about running your own firm? What are the biggest challenges you face as a leader?
The entrepreneurial journey- the opportunity to be innovative, to compete, to grow, and create opportunities for others.
One of my biggest challenges I face as a leader is finding enough sales talent with the right combination of professional skills and industry experience. We are always looking to assess top-notch performers and talent that can excel. Fit is also important to us. Important traits and skills we look for include persuasiveness, interpersonal skills, problem-solving/decision-making skills, and personal organization/time management skills.
What would be the biggest piece of advice you would give to other entrepreneurs an aspiring entrepreneurs?
To believe in yourself while also having the willingness and capacity to believe in others. When others believe in you…they will be willing to take the entrepreneurial journey with you.
Your industry is in transition. How does World Pac plan on addressing the challenges it expects to confront in the coming years?
By remaining abreast of and in touch with our current industry conditions. Change, at an ever faster pace, is a fact of life. We will continue our diversification plans which include expanding into new products and services and new markets and regions while growing our sales team and revenue streams. We will always remain focused on our customers.
Describe what in your background best prepared you to lead a high-growth firm.
I was well positioned after gaining over 25 years of solid sales and marketing experience with Fortune 500 companies. More specifically, I had gained thirteen (13) years of printing, packaging, paper experience and expertise and the fact that I am goal-oriented and driven by results.
How has being a growing inner city business changed your surrounding community in Cincinnati?
My business passion extends to the community in which the company lives and works. I have always felt that local businesses must do their part to improve and enhance the quality of life in the communities in which they operate and do business. I also always encourage others with the company to be engaged with the community.
You are very involved in bettering your community. Tell me about your involvement with community and nonprofit organizations.
Yes, I am. I, personally, along with my company, support many professional associations and community service organizations with significant contributions. I have always believed businesses and the people that own and run them, must be socially aware and gain the trust and respect of the community in which they operate. As a business owner, social responsibility is very important to me. It is important to me that our firm contribute to the vibrancy of our community and economy. I am an avid community volunteer and also serve in leadership capacities on the Board of Directors of many prominent Cincinnati civic and community non-profit organizations.
Do you know of any high-growth firms that are making a difference in your local inner city community? Nominate them for the Inner City 100 where they will receive free management education at Harvard Business School as well as other content that will help them give them the tools to become a growing enterprise. If such a description fits your firm, apply for the program today!
BY Guest Blogger on August 16th, 2012
Trending Topicsworkforce development workforce what works urban revitalization small business shared value nyc manufacturing jobs inner city economic summit industrial ic100 housing food entrepreneur economic development detroit community development clusters cities capital business boston ask the expert anchors
FOR OUR MONTHLY INNER CITY INSIGHTS.
- CEOs for Cities
- SBA's Open for Business
- Opportunity Nation
- Living Cities
- Urban Institute's MetroTrends
- Atlantic Cities
- The Knight Foundation
- The Kresge Foundation
- Core Change Cincy
- Business Civic Leadership Center
- The Urbanophile
- Next City
- City Journal
- Rust Wire