Commentary & Analysis
Q&A with InnerWorkings CEO Eric Belcher
By Stacey Skotzko
Published: May 10, 2012
Chicago-based InnerWorkings, a print procurement and management company, reported on May 3 record first quarter 2012 financial results. With a 30 percent increase in revenue over its 2011 results, InnerWorkings reported a net income of $3.7 million for the quarter. CEO Eric Belcher briefly talked with WhatTheyThink about his company, waste and duplication in printing, and offered some business advice.
InnerWorkings focuses on optimizing the supply chain for businesses. What are some of the top, easily solved mistakes that you see companies making in this process?
“The biggest mistake we see is the failure to keep pace with innovations and/or technological advancements. It takes corporate courage to break with the past and make wholesale changes to a functioning, though not ideal, supply chain.”
Do most companies know where their waste and duplications lie, or do they often need an outside perspective to highlight these things?
“One of the benefits of working with a company like InnerWorkings is that we have had detailed exposure to best practices in print procurement across hundreds of major corporations. Having that broad perspective can be very useful in redesigning a function or a process.”
In March, Forbes named InnerWorkings one of the country’s most trustworthy companies. What was your reaction to that, and how do you work to keep that stability in your company?
“As you might imagine, we were proud of being on that list, especially in this day and age when we all hear so many stories of companies cutting corners or not being transparent or worse. Our clients respect us, and maintaining that trust is both core to our culture and to our business model.”
What will the coming year bring for InnerWorkings? What are you excited about?
“For a number of our clients, we are now managing their marketing supply chains across multiple continents. Our clients like this solution for a few reasons -- uniform brand standards, sharing design concepts across regions, reporting, simplicity and accountability. I think you’ll see us bringing on many more multi-national clients as the year progresses. You’ll also see us continue to transform how middle market companies buy their print. Today most medium-sized and small corporations pay premiums for their printed materials, and we are now giving them access to the service, quality and pricing that previously only a few Fortune 500 companies were able to realize.”
It’s graduation time for many young people across the country. What advice can you give new graduates who are looking to enter either the printing or business world?
“Three things come to mind: First, seek out companies that have strong growth prospects. You’ll learn the most, make the most, and most likely have more fun than you will in a slow growth environment. Second, make sure your company has some sort of data or technology advantage and is investing to keep that advantage. And finally, look for a leadership team that you believe is grounded, open and honest.”