Interview Date: 17/02/20
With over 25 years of industry experience with Premier Labellers, Managing Director Tracie White has divulged on an interview of questions from all branches of the Premier Team. With such an incredible history to gain an insight upon to an exciting future ahead, we talk to Tracie White and ask her the burning questions from her beloved workforce.
An interview with Tracie White...
Q: What was your favourite subject to study at school.
Tracie: English was my favourite, hated Maths though..
Q: How long have you been at Premier Labellers?
Tracie: 24 years, coming on 25 years.
Q: What was your first job at Premier and what was your starting salary?
Tracie: I don’t even know what my starting salary was! I’m not sure on how much you all know but I moved home from Peterborough as I had some problems in my private life at that time and my father worked at PLF International. He asked if I wanted to help out in the office for a few days a week. After that, I never looked back.
Q: Has it always been your aim to be MD? When you started at Premier Labellers, did you see yourself becoming the MD?
Tracie: No, I didn’t, I wasn’t going to stay there at one point because of the way they weren’t reinvesting and evolving. It was always going to stay like a backstreet ally thing, and I didn’t want that, and I did think about leaving. But then we had the discussions of moving and I could see potential and I could see what I could do. Becoming MD was a normal progression for me because I was always in the management team, so the next step was Directorship. And, in fact if feels like you don't do as much work. Honestly, I would go home feeling so bad some days because I would think I hadn’t done as much as I used to because I’d be talking all day to people, A complete shift in responsibility.
Dan: But you’d also done all of that work previously to get to that point where you don’t have to do those things anymore but, you know if you had to you could do every single one which is what makes you the ideal MD because you understand what it takes. A lot of people, when it comes to MD’s, they get pulled in from other companies and don’t know anything to do with their new company. Yours is a very rare case where you’ve come from the bottom, hit the top of it and changed it for the good.
Tracie: I know I’m getting on but there’s still loads that I want to do in the industry. They’ll come, but at the moment I just want the MBO done. And I do plan on involving people more in decisions on what we sell abroad and how we’re going to attack it. Even going to Interpack (trade show in Germany), I’ll go with Damian (Operations director) to have a look round, you’ll go with Josh (Business Development Manager), and then we’ll have a list of ideas that we’ll collect along the way.
Dan: I think that’s really important to do as well and, as you say, it’s an ever-evolving company know. These are things that are going to keep growing and building.
Tracie: And all of the customers call me up asking “What have you got new on at the show this year?” I don’t want to keep taking the P250, I want something new to embrace and we are working on something very exciting for the PPMA 2020.
Q: What is the biggest challenge of being an MD in a company?
Tracie: Trying to get all members of staff working in harmony on a daily basis. I’m very proud of them all, but we are still facing some common difficulties as all companies do. Saying that we have improved so much from what we used to be and continue to do so.
Q: Have you seen a change in generation with Premier Labellers customers?
Tracie: We have, yes. The whole business has done a bit of a turnaround. Before it was all very much who our previous MD knew, he could phone them up and it wasn’t run correctly. But now we have a structure, as we grow the size of our contracts grow. At the moment people see us as “Premier Labellers, little old school operation” but, we’re not anymore. We are driving towards a modern Premier with R&D, working closers with the engineers and with you (Dan) for our marketing potential and it’s going to become a more efficient and successful business. It can’t stop, we have to keep moving with the times.
Q: Where do you see the company in 5 years’ time?
Tracie: I want the machine’s to be bought into the 21st century aesthetically and to be even more reactive to customer’s needs. The machines currently work at the best standard but as production sites get more modern, our designs will have to keep up. As well as this, our client’s production lines are not just labellers, they will be able to get the complete line from us in the next 5 – 10 years.
Q: What’s the best thing you’ve learnt from your team?
Tracie: I have learnt to listen to my team properly. I don’t have enough time to come and see them all as regularly as I would like, but I do think that the team are all so competent at their roles they can be left to their own creativity, work rate and initiative. They are doing it very well and I just want that to keep going. It’s hard to do because I cant be over with someone every hour of the day watching them, but if I get a management account and things aren’t right, I have to go and speak to those people. But it’s not a negative! It’s always going to be “What can we do as a team?”.
Dan: I think that’s the fear in a lot of people when they work in companies that when their MD comes to see them it’s always going to be a negative. Usually, in a company the MD has someone to go and speak to staff for them. But because you break that boundary that opens up your team a lot more.
Tracie: And as I say I love it like this because they will just come and tell me things. Some things they don’t, and I’m not really bothered about it, but I do give them the time and the budget. They make this business at the end of the day, it can’t just be me here on my own.
Q: What’s on your bucket list?
Tracie: I have so much on my bucket list but work related is to ensure that our 5-year plan reaches the 10 million turn-over. Then, I can give my staff what they deserve.
Q: Do you consider that you have met all of your work-related challenges or do you have more in mind?
Tracie: God no! I’ve just got started; I’m restraining myself until the MBO is done. I do have lots more work-related challenges that I want to home in on and get right. I want every department to be seamless, I want them to bring together as a team, have a meeting, discuss it, tell me the results.
Q: If you weren’t working in the engineering world, what industry would you see yourself in?
Tracie: High-Speed Undercover Cop.
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