Spend a few minutes listening to the CEO of PaladinID talk about helping his customers solve problems, and you get a strong sense of the man behind the New Hampshire company that specializes in high-performance bar code label systems.
"You know, my core belief is to serve (my) customers," Dana Ritchie said. "I've always put the customer first and really (looked at) their needs and put their interests first. I believed that if I took care of enough people, they'd take care of me, and that's exactly what's happened."
A long-time player in the automatic identification industry, Ritchie spent the beginning of his career as a salesman with several firms, then launched his own business in 1998, less than a day after he was fired.
With current revenues topping $3 million, he and his five employees resell a suite of services that seem simple on the surface, but serve as the building blocks for many organizations, large and small, public and private.
"I don't care what you're making, heart valves, any kind of medical stuff, food, diamonds, if you don't have the proper bar code label that sticks, that has the correct information, it doesn't ship," Ritchie said. "Everything comes to a halt. So the label, really, is one of the most important things on anybody's product."
Making His Mark With Bar Code Labels
A lot of what you read in business magazines and on the Internet these days revolves around the latest advances in technology. There's nothing very revolutionary about bar code printers, bar code labels and data collection scanners - except when they mean the difference between success and failure. If there's a glitch in the process and product information can't be communicated via a clean bar code label, a company may lose sales and customers.
"My whole business and my tagline is 'Make Your Mark,' " Ritchie said. "I want to make a mark on a bar code label and that's what I'm going to do."
He tells the story of a customer who was facing a watershed moment that would make or break his company. For its continued success, the business had to find a way to print bar code labels in color, using ink that would stand up to extended outdoor exposure. If they succeeded, their sales would increase overnight. If they failed, they'd be out of business in a short time.
They approached PaladinID, telling Ritchie, "You're our last hope." Taking the job, knowing that the technology was yet to be developed, he partnered with the company, a chemist, and an outside vendor.
Together they invented a process that met and even exceeded the original specifications for the colored ink, saving the customer's business and doubling Ritchie's revenues almost overnight. He gained a customer for life and cemented a reputation for staring down difficult business challenges.
"I like the hard stuff that everybody says can't be done," Ritchie said. "Because I've got a team of people who have a lot of experience and we haven't had a problem we couldn't solve yet."
"Man of the Hour"
As Ritchie's business evolved, and his customer base grew, he looked for ways of cementing his company's place within the competitive bar code label industry and planning for future expansion. He brought in a branding consultant and they reinvented his company name. Originally known as Northeast Bar Code Solutions, he wanted a name with a little more meaning and significance.
"The way I felt that my business was run, I am the man of the hour," Ritchie said. "I am there 24/7, 365 (days a year) for my customers. Your printer isn't running, you run out of labels, (your business) comes to a stop, call me, I'm there. (I'm the) man of the hour."
That philosophy led him to the "hero" archetype. Digging deeper, he discovered that a synonym for hero is paladin, a champion who fights for a cause. Someone who appears during the moment of truth as the man of the hour.
"As soon as I read that, I said, 'That's it, that's it,' " Ritchie said. He knew the name fit the person he was in the business world and described what his company represents for his customers.
"I just think the way I was raised and (looking at) my philosophies on life, I'm just here to serve and I just found a passion that happens to be bar code labels," Ritchie said. "I absolutely love what I do. I just love when customers have a problem and they say, 'Help me.' "
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