Reworking Catalog Production Processes

This entry is part 2 of 18 in the series Interview Tom Marine Gets Right Upfront

MM: I recall from our previous conversations that while at Hubert, you played an instrumental role in reworking their core catalog production processes, developing an integrated
workflow for the print and online catalog. This entailed driving many internal changes around how to produce multichannel marketing communications and, specifically, big-book catalogs

TM: That’s correct. Something we did at Hubert—in 1998 and 1999—was to rework the flow of catalog production. That also then was in the early stages of getting the web online. So there were multiple reasons to do that.

Central went through a similar process. There were a few steps different, because it was 10 years later. But there are an awful lot of things that are very similar in how to approach this new, very integrated relational database situation.

I was basically the evangelist of the Hubert change, and I did that at Central. Along with that, I handled a lot of the database publishing duties for other K+K-America companies. Including C&H Distribution and Connie Safety, at the time. I was also highly involved in their integration into their publishing database, as well.

Change Process

MM: As we develop our master-class profile in this interview, detailing how to facilitate and drive these sorts of process transformations, perhaps we develop combined narrative from your experience with Central Restaurant and Hubert. So, let’s start with what typically kick-starts a change process: a catalytic event. What happened that required a change in workflows, either at Hubert or at Central Restaurant?

TM: ‘Require’ is a strong word. In both cases, the company saw itself as a business leader and having a best-in-class environment. While Hubert did not want to not have the best systems, Central was dead-set on having a best-in-class environment in all of their different technological pieces.

MM: Where did that notion arise in the organization?

TM: In 2006 by Johnson Ventures purchased Central.

As the owner, Rick Johnson just believes that having the best in class for anything—that’s where he wants to be. Now, the best in class doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be the best out there. It could mean it’s just the best for the environment for the company at its particular stage—and looking toward the future.

An example might be an Endeca solution, a guided navigation solution for a website that is best in class. But it’s best in class for the big boys, and maybe that’s not necessarily needed for a company of our size.

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