Tales from a Top Executive: Patricia Dugan
As part of Print+Promo Marketing’s ongoing feature, Executive Perspectives, we get to know leading professionals in the print and promotional industry. This month, we interviewed Patricia “Pat” Dugan, MAS, vice president of sales and marketing, Budgetcard Inc., Attleboro Falls, Massachusetts. Here, she talks shop, reflects on the future of networking and shares how the pandemic made business personal.
How did you get started in this industry, and what path did you take to land in your current role?
Patricia Dugan: Interesting question. When I graduated, I decided to stay in Boston and started working at the Boston Symphony Orchestra in its fundraising department. The biggest lesson I learned there was the power of networking, although I didn’t realize it yet. When it was time to move on, my school placed me at Pilgrim Plastic Products Company, which began my career in the promotional products industry. I was with Pilgrim for decades, working my way up to sales and marketing vice president. Eventually, I joined Budgetcard Inc.
How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
PD: For my immediate goals — personal and work — I make a list at the end of each day of what I must accomplish and what I would like to accomplish. As far as the business is concerned, at the end of each year, we look at what we did, what we need to do better and how important is it in the scheme of the overall picture, and plan accordingly. This has to do with equipment, sales and structure. We evaluate throughout the year.
How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
PD: Budgetcard is a USA-manufacturing company. Because of this, we do not have an issue with supply chains, which I understand is getting better. However, finding qualified applicants is an ongoing challenge. So far, production has not been affected by this. [We’re also] watching for signs of a pandemic outbreak and inflation, as these, too, would affect the economy and our industry.
What do you expect to be some of the biggest changes or challenges the industry will face?
PD: The way we do business and the way we learn. Trade shows seem to be on the downslide. They are expensive and don’t appear to have the appeal they once did. If this is true, how will regionals survive? What will the new main event be for suppliers to introduce their ideas and products? What about the networking aspect of a show? With more and more people working off-site, conducting meetings without losing the personal side will be challenging. Mergers and acquisitions are happening frequently and changing the landscape and makeup of the industry. Are we as an industry keeping up with this?
What keeps you up at night?
PD: When the pandemic hit, the worst thing was not having the work and, therefore, [there was a] need to lay off employees. I never want to see that happen again. So, what’s No. 1 for me is to maintain a steady business with steady growth so our employees are always confident about maintaining their job. If something is going to keep me up at night, that’s it — figuring out the best path for us to take in order to make that happen.
What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now?
PD: Replacing and adding to our equipment in order to have better, more feasible and faster ways of producing our product line. A new HP Indigo 7K digital press is currently being installed. [It features] state-of-the-art, high-speed printing and personalization to meet the growing needs of our clients, allowing for faster production and turn times. A new high-speed Autofeed rotary die cutter will be installed in November of this year. It’s fast, accurate, and uses both hard tool and flexible dies. [Lastly,] a new, high-speed magnetic stripe encoder/inkjet printer will be installed in January of next year. This will allow for even faster production times of gift cards.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
PD: Way back in high school, I was a drummer in a female rock band. I think we were the first. Also, a couple of us pulled the “we’re reporters for a newspaper” routine, but it worked. We were taken to interview Jim Morrison and The Doors. Now, I’m trying to learn to play the clarinet, which is difficult. I want to be able to play the blues. Right now, however, I’m at “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
Want to be considered for a future edition of Executive Perspectives? Contact Elise Hacking Carr at firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of questions and other details.