2023 Women in Print and Promo: Terri Tolmack, Proforma Hi-Rez
TERRI L. TOLMACK
Owner/President of Client Engagement and Operations
Proforma Hi-Rez, Mission Viejo, California
“Inspiring,” “dedicated,” “influencer” — these are just a few words people use to describe Terri Tolmack. But for Tolmack, a 39-year industry veteran who spent 14 of those years working as a single parent, “resilient” is arguably most fitting.
Print and promo wasn’t a part of Tolmack’s original career plan. Her dream centered around aerospace. Tolmack studied computer science at Fullerton Junior College before moving on to ITT Tech, where she graduated with honors and a degree in electronic engineering technology. Just a year before, the shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds in flight, killing all seven Americans on board. That tragedy, coupled with cutbacks, made it difficult to enter the aerospace industry. It was time for Tolmack to rethink and reset.
Fortunately, before completing her studies, Tolmack landed a receptionist job with Monarch Business Forms. After a couple of weeks, she transferred to the art department. She was tasked with proof reading, and eventually learned how to operate a typesetting machine, use the darkroom, and compose art on a light table. Aside from purchasing and print production, Tolmack covered most departments, including accounting, sales service, inside sales, and outside sales.
Tolmack stayed at Monarch Business Forms until 1997, when she opted to launch her own brokerage called Hi-Rez Printing & Graphics. When asked why she branched out, Tolmack’s answer was simple: her clients. As she tells it, she could provide so much more with respect to customer service, and, unfortunately, her employer shared a different view.
“I took a leap of faith, and decided to make the jump to business owner,” Tolmack says. “It was definitely scary since I was a single mom and had just purchased a house a year before. I wasn’t sure what would happen with my existing clients either. But I was blessed and had a few that contacted me a few weeks after departing, who are still with me today.”
In 2008, circumstances changed again. By then, Tolmack was married to a professional drag racer, who lost his job. Being the primary financial provider for three years took a toll on Tolmack and her business. That’s when Proforma reached out. Tolmack was reluctant. She contemplated the offer for six months and even asked an investor friend to research the distributor. Tolmack took another risk — and it paid off.
Since joining the Proforma family in 2011, Tolmack has grown her business, now operating as Proforma Hi-Rez, primarily through referrals — “a rare, but advantageous path that speaks to her drive to break down barriers,” according to Tolmack’s nominator. Her nominator went on to say that Tolmack tripled her sales between 2014-15, later earning her a spot in Proforma’s Million Dollar Club in 2021. Tolmack is close to achieving Multi-Million Dollar Club status, and was elected to Proforma’s Owner Advisory Council (OAC) Board for four consecutive years (2018-2022). Most recently, fellow Proforma owners voted Tolmack to serve as president of the OAC for the 2023 term.
Tolmack recently hired multiple sales professionals located throughout the U.S. as she advances her vision of growth, hoping to make this her most successful year yet. “I can honestly say that it was the best career decision I ever made, and only wish that I had known about and joined the Proforma family many years earlier,” she says.
Her Proudest Career Achievement
My team and our success together is by far the best achievement. I have a fantastic team, and we have been able to grow our sales at a rate of 14 times what I came to Proforma with. I am also very proud of the work that I have done in the large-format and custom fabrication end of our industry — designing and creating products that are unique and outside the box of your typical promotional products.
How Failure Taught Her Resiliency
In 2022 [I failed at something]. As long as I gave it my best, it was OK. I learned that I can pivot, still survive, and even conquer. I learned to bounce back a long time ago. When you are a single mom, resilience becomes second nature.
Her Most Significant Barrier as a Female Leader
I do not feel like I had any barriers, per se. But, as a single mom for 14 years of my career, I had to make sure that my focus was not just on [business], but also on my daughter. So, I had to make sure that I made the best of my hours at the office, and balanced my life with my baby and my career.
How She Thinks Companies Can Attract and Retain Female Talent
- Encourage and promote women in leadership roles.
- Create a comfortable company culture that women can relate to, fit in, and feel appreciated and important, as gratitude makes a big impact.
- [Offer] a flexible working environment to help those with children, and those [who] are students.
- Provide equal opportunities and pay for men and women.
Her Job Advice to Women
Go for it! I always live by “if you build it, they will come.” This is an amazing and exciting industry. Build incredible and valuable relationships with not only your clients, but also your suppliers and support team. Nurture and treasure them. A good relationship is priceless.
Her Upcoming Goals
I would like to continue to grow my business and team, and give more incredible people an opportunity to grow with us. Personally, I want to try to take a couple of vacations and enjoy more family time.
How She Recharges
To recharge, I take a quick trip with my family, spend a few hours with my daughter doing something she and I love to do together, or just relax (not that it happens very often). I love what I do and who I work with, so it is not hard to recharge and go back to what I love. I am charged naturally by helping others, and spending time with my daughter and my team.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.