CEO Mark Sarpa Outlines Progressive Solutions
Published on November 7, 2011
Cary Sherburne interviews CEO of Progressive Solutions Mark Sarpa about the company's recent ventures.
Cary Sherburne: Hi. I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor of WhatTheyThink.com and I’m here with Mark Sarpa who is CEO of Progressive Solutions in California. Welcome.
Mark Sarpa: Thank you for speaking with me.
Cary Sherburne: Yeah. So what’s new at Progressive Solutions? Maybe you can tell us a little bit about that business and any other businesses you may have on your plate.
Mark Sarpa: Well, we’re one of the lucky ones; we’re actually growing in this economy and have been. We obviously continue to grow our core business but our fun business is called Frecklebox.com which is personalized children’s products starting with books.
Cary Sherburne: Books, okay. And so is that all you’re doing now or are you doing more personalized products?
Mark Sarpa: We do more person—we actually do quite a few personalized products for others, and we do clipboards and lunchboxes and many other—we’re moving more into the three-dimensional space rather than just two-dimensional. So it’s exciting times.
Cary Sherburne: So the personalized books, you’ve got a website and people can just come and upload photos and…
Mark Sarpa: Well it’s not a photo-based site; it’s really a name-based site. It’s around building the child’s self-esteem through incorporating them in the story, and we use image personalization from DirectSmile. And it’s a pretty neat experience when you get—in fact, I got it from [Yon Raecker] of HP told me his twins know how to spell their name because of my books.
Cary Sherburne: Oh, that is exciting; how rewarding.
Mark Sarpa: That’s a pretty magical experience when you get somebody telling you that.
Cary Sherburne: Yeah. And then on the Progressive side, is it all digital?
Mark Sarpa: We’re all digital. We run five Indigos in two large formats and we’re all in the extremely short-run and the one-off marketplace, and we’re excited about growth. We added two new presses last year and looking at additional equipment this year.
Cary Sherburne: Wow, that’s great. You know, not a lot of people are really jumping on the investments quickly, so that’s great that you’re able to do that. And then the business coming in to Frecklebox obviously is over the web. What about the other side?
Mark Sarpa: The other side is mostly over the web too through a series of partners, so we tend to be the back-end manufacturer of other people’s websites, and that’s really the business we love to do. And we still, of course, do [B-to-B] and some of the marketing applications and that’s actually growing for us also. So in the past we haven’t had a sales force and now we do and we’re excited about growth in that market also.
Cary Sherburne: And Silicon Valley is kind of a fun place to sell. It can be—I sold there for a number of years—so it can be challenging; but right now all the energy around the tablets and the phones and all that stuff that’s going on is amazing. So there’s a lot of growth going on and it would seem like you could have a pretty good chance to do some cool stuff.
Mark Sarpa: It’s an exciting place but it’s also a threatening place because you always feel like you’re a little bit behind trying to catch up, or trying to keep up I guess.
Cary Sherburne: Trying to keep up, yeah. Well, we’ll be watching to see what happens.
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