When Patrick Tuttle became CEO of printing and publishing company ADR Inc., it started working with clients to understand where they were going and the changes on the horizon.
"We did a lot of mini-focus-group-type things (with customers), one-on-one research," Tuttle said. "We crafted solutions around their needs."
That helped the company weather the recession.
Tuttle attributes the company's success to new products and capturing market share.
"We didn't really see a downturn," he said. "We've been very busy; we've been hiring; we've been working a lot of overtime."
While ADR "does a little bit of everything," its niche is in the technical publications business for aerospace training and training development.
Work with the aerospace industry makes up 80 percent of ADR's business.
ADR's media development group focuses on developing training materials such as digital media, manuals and training aids to teach pilots, maintenance mechanics and ground crews in the classroom, Tuttle said.
Its staff includes technical writers, illustrators and designers.
The company also produces marketing pieces, instruction books, illustrated posters, manuals, business cards and "whatever it may be," he said.
It can develop the piece, do the prepress work, print it, put it together in packets and kits and mail it.
Tuttle entered the printing business while working at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., as a major gifts development officer for its foundation.
A board member with a Web printing and packaging company offered him a job.
"He said, 'If you can please me, you can please our customers very easily,' " Tuttle said.
In 2002, Tuttle, 43, moved to Wichita to work for McCormick Armstrong as vice president of sales, then joined ADR in January 2007.
Grace and Jim Rishel, who own the company, founded the business in 1978, then called Kopy King.
It's a small, woman-owned business. Grace Rishel is the primary stockholder.
Tuttle earned undergraduate, master's and predoctoral degrees in finance, management and administration from Appalachian State.
During graduate school, he worked as a legislative researcher for the late Sen. Jesse Helms in Washington, D.C.
Tuttle has also worked for printing companies in Indianapolis and Charlotte, N.C., and spent time heading up a major capital campaign for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Foundation.
When he's not working, Tuttle likes to walk, golf, lift weights, do yard work, read and travel. He has visited 18 countries. He is married to Becky Tuttle.
You mentioned that ADR is an all-digital print shop. What do you do?
"Everything is focused on digital. (We do) a lot of digital asset management ... archiving files, doing updates and changes as those are needed."
Besides the digital aspects, what else do you like best about the business?
" (The company's) ability to conduct marketing research, working with customers, prospective customers, industry consultants and experts, and other research we conduct here to figure out where the marketplace is going and what people are interested in. And we come back with solutions."
What's your biggest challenge?
"Probably keeping up with all the technology. It's moving very fast."
Many companies are outsourcing their printing needs. How does that affect you?
"They're pretty much saying, 'Hey, come and take this problem off my hands.' Many folks are outsourcing, which is what we do very well. We put people on location at their location or multiple locations here in Wichita and out of state."
What's next for ADR?
"I think further development of digital technology, integrating that with social media and ... more personalization and use of color."
How does social media change your business?
"It drives new product streams, business-to-consumer applications and the demand for those products."
What's your best business advice?
"Make sure that you stay in the business that you understand well and don't venture out too far. ... You've got to use the people that are your suppliers, as well as your bankers, your accountants, to help you though, because things are becoming more and more complex, more legal and more accounting focused."
You also had advice about the future.
" (Be) looking and investigating two and three moves out... always asking ... 'If we could do anything what would that be?' And have a line item in the budget for R&D and spend the money. A lot of people have it in the budget then never spend it."
What's one thing about you that might surprise people?
"That I read as much as I do. I spend a lot of money at Barnes & Noble and have subscriptions to 50-plus trade journals and publications that I read. ... I'm surprised people don't read more than they do. I'm very curious."