Thursday, August 2, 2018

Plum Grove - Profile of a Family-Run Printing Company

Plum Grove Inc., a growing printing and marketing company based in Hoffman Estates, IL, recently welcomed consumer products industry veteran Kara Lineal into the role of Chief Marketing Officer. She is responsible for overseeing marketing strategy and the digital experience for the Plum Grove brand and client services. She joins her father, Peter Lineal, founder of Plum Grove, as part of the leadership team.
“From Champion brand sport bags and Jockey brand bedding, to consumer electronics, mobile apps and smart home sensors, my career has spanned a broad range of product development, merchandising and digital marketing,” says Lineal. “Bringing this experience to the traditional B2B printing industry makes Plum Grove uniquely qualified to expand its online presence and digital client services offering. It’s exciting to have such diverse marketing capabilities in our toolbox!”
Under Peter’s leadership, Plum Grove has evolved from a commercial printer to a “one-stop shop” that includes mailing services, promotional products, signs, trade show displays and web-to-print websites.
I had a chance to interview them to learn more.

How was Plum Grove started?

On December 1, 1980, Jimmy Carter was the lame duck president, “Lady” by Kenny Rogers was No. 1 on the pop charts, “The Empire Strikes Back” was the top grossing film, and Plum Grove was born. “That was a pretty big day for me,” CEO Peter Lineal remembers, “I got the keys to the building, and my first child was born.” From modest beginnings in a 917-square-foot space on Plum Grove Road (hence the name), Mr. Lineal’s little startup has expanded into the bustling 9,600-square-foot facility of today.

The entrepreneur cheerfully recalls Plum Grove’s first job. “We were called ‘quick printers’ back then, printing letterheads, invoices, forms, and more. As a struggling new businessperson, I convinced my father-in-law that he needed 500 envelopes. They were just one color, but it was my first order.”

“We were just a tiny little business with a staff of one and a baby in the back of the shop,” says Mr. Lineal. “My take-home salary was $172 the first year. Sales for year one barely reached $50,000. But we eventually grew into a valued marketing partner to our clients.”

How do you balance the family aspect of your relationship with the professional side?

Plum Grove is a family business at its core. Over 30% of the team has been together for more than 20 years, and more than half has been with Plum Grove over a decade. Many employees have recruited their family members to join the team over time, and currently have relatives working at Plum Grove. With that in mind, the entire workforce is very comfortable with each other, and It is not uncommon to discuss family happenings openly. When it comes to “the professional side” we all have a lot of fun together, and the family aspects and professional aspects of the business are very much blended.

What are some unique products that you offer that people may not think about?

Some of the unique products that Plum Grove offers blend digital and traditional marketing. For example, we can track direct mail to inform businesses when their mail is going to be delivered, so that subsequent marketing events can be triggered (like a follow up phone call, email, etc.). Another exciting product we offer is called myBrandHub™, a free branded web-to-print website that gives businesses complete control over the creation and distribution of company-approved sales and marketing materials. It allows employees to order branded items like marketing assets, business cards, promotional products, trade show materials, mailing lists, digital files and more.

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