From press operator to problem solver

After running press equipment, pre-press, customer support, estimating, account development, and customer service for 30 years, Erin Parker says she is “well-equipped to help customers find the right path forward to achieve what they are looking for because I understand the best way to produce it as well.” As Columbine Label Company’s customer support manager, Erin describes her hands-on experience as a press operator as both rewarding and beneficial to her customer-facing role today.

Girl power at the presses

Prior to joining Columbine Label Company in 2017, Erin was a press operator at another large printing company with many women involved in the operation, including running the presses. She says she found running the flexographic presses to be some of her most rewarding jobs. “They offered a different challenge every day,” she explains. “Some days were hard, some days the machine won, and some days I won. But it was never boring! I enjoyed getting my hands dirty and working through the challenges, most days. I also worked with some incredible people who mentored and guided me as I learned how to print and operate the presses.” One of her best mentors was her husband. “He taught me so much about printing. I still talk a lot of things through with him.”

Putting press experience to work on the customer side

At Columbine Label Company, Erin fields a wide variety of customer calls. Sometimes it’s from someone who’s starting a business and looking for information on packaging and labels and she’s happy to educate them. For calls from existing customers, Erin is sure to do her homework first. “I start by doing a little research on the order, so I know exactly what they have received. If there’s an issue at our end, I let them express their concerns without interruption. Then I start asking them questions and we talk through how we are going to fix it and, most importantly, why it happened so we don’t repeat it.” She notes, “My experience as an operator can come in to play there as well. If it is a tolerance issue, for example, I can speak to that and sometimes I’m helping them to understand why that happened. Most customers have no idea how we achieve a die cut and why it may be out of tolerance. Some don’t care and just want it fixed, while others appreciate understanding why it happened. Sometimes they even ask, ‘Is there anything I can do with my art to help stay within tolerance?’ Those are my dream customer calls! They are curious and want to help me help them.”

Professional problem solver

Helping customers is a big source of pride and job satisfaction for Erin. “I enjoy helping customers get the right product for their project,” Erin states. “If they have problems, it’s always nice when you can solve that problem for them. In my role, it’s important to understand exactly what is happening in daily operations. At Columbine Label, it’s very easy for me and the production manager to communicate every day about nearly every order if we need to. I enjoy the small office and teamwork. We always stand by our work and our commitment to our customers. It’s a family-owned business and the Jackson family are good people!”

Printer’s best friend

In addition to its consistently high early/on-time shipments and quality index metrics, Columbine Label Company is also known for its love of man’s best friend. Erin says, “Some of my best memories here have been the days when we have employees’ and customers’ dogs in the office. They provide a nice distraction.” Erin’s own dog, Lillian, was a Columbine Label Company favorite until she passed from cancer last year. “I now have Maggie Mae and she is CRAZY, but I love her. I haven’t brought her to the office because she spreads chaos everywhere she goes,” laughs Erin. But if she is as skilled at training a puppy as she is at handling printing presses and customer calls. Erin will turn Maggie Mae into a beloved officemate in no time.