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Letters, feedback, get it off your chest: 10 December 2008

Thursday, 04 December 2008
By Print 21 Online Article

Robert Fuller’s exit from the printing industry angers some readers, while others feel the sting of retrenchment.

Re: Robert Fuller falls victim to cost cutting

Robert Fuller, recently departed general manager of the PIAA NSW, was a robust and energetic reminder that you don’t have to have a "print industry" background to succeed in our industry.

Dynamic, gregarious, prepared to lead "from the front" and always welcoming to new members, Robert was "Mr Everywhere-man" constantly generating a steady flow of events and initiatives designed to put "print" firmly back on the map, and to re-establish the Association back in the minds of its members.

If he had a "flaw" it was that he was directing and driving too many projects at any one time. Or so it seemed. He certainly had his team of loyal followers within the NSW branch constantly on the go – but they seemed to thrive on the passion and excitement he brought to the job. I suspect they threw themselves into their roles with a zeal and enthusiasm not seen in these corridors for some time – and, as a token of their personal endorsement for what Robert was seeking to do.   

Any trade association needs a frontman (or woman) who can effectively promote the association’s goals and aspirations to its members. They need someone who is a "natural" communicator, who can engage with members and promote a dialogue between members and the industry body, on a range of issues.

Fuller’s departure leaves a void within the NSW operations as there is currently no one with his energetic spirit and "out there" personality to take his place.

Any CEO has the right to hire and fire whomever he pleases. However, the dismissal/retrenchment of a senior manager has repercussions that impact on three distinct constituencies: first, the councilors, second, the staff, and third of course, the broad-based membership who are entitled to a full and frank explanation of events.

It could be argued that the CEO of an industry association has a greater duty of care to explain his actions, than does the CEO of a public company. This obligation arises from the fees paid by members, which in effect creates a "compact" between the members and the CEO – who accordingly becomes more accountable to members for his/her actions (than if they were mere shareholders).

A decision such as this, to dispense with one of the key "movers-and-shakers" responsible for building and fostering membership, at the very time membership is under threat, seems to the "outsiders" to be a lop-sided decision, requiring a more plausible explanation than the one offered: "cost cutting".

If the departure was purely for "cost cutting" purposes why was it conducted with such (seemingly) unseemly haste? Why weren’t members given the chance to express their appreciation at the incumbent’s efforts over the past few years?

Staff retrenchments/dismissals are never easy, but we look to our industry body as a role model in how to go about such difficult procedures with "due process" and to show respect for the individual concerned. From a distance it appears that this was not the case.

Let us recall the words of Peter Lane, PIAA’s national president in February, 2006, at the time of Philip Anderson’s appointment, when he said that the Association would be "steered … in a … way inclusive of the varied needs and expectations of members …" Was this decision  consistent with this policy?

I stress that all this is not to deny the right of a chief executive to conduct himself in any way he chooses. But his/her actions must be accountable, and at the moment there seems to be a deafening silence. In the spirit of greater transparency, let us have a more robust debate on how we as members feel about this decision. I would encourage responses from member-companies "out there", to express their views on such a vital matter as this.

James Cryer

As a member of the first Australian Technical Committee for Graphic Technologies (AU TC 130) I would like to express my personal disappointment at the termination of Rob Fuller’s employment with Printing Industries. While recognising PIAA’s need to develop strategies to cope with harsh economic times and ongoing structural changes within the industry I feel compelled to underscore Phillip Anderson’s comments regarding Rob’s ability and dedication to the task.
Rob’s energy and enthusiasm for the role of guiding and facilitating the TC130 (accompanied by the ever-present Bob Lamont) ensured the realisation of a significant milestone: the adoption of ISO 12647-2 as the official Australian standard and the creation of a website dedicated to educating the industry about standards-based production (
Throughout this process Rob not only demonstrated enthusiasm but foresight and dedicated himself to ensuring objectivity in the affairs of the committee. Without his support and focus on the long-term integrity of the committee’s work my role in particular would have been far more difficult.
He was, or should I say, is, greatly appreciated. Good luck to you Rob.
Mark Stegman
Graphic Prepress
Sydney institute


Re: Axe drops on supply staff around Australia

I’m sure Mr Duncan is comfortable saving 8.5 million in the next two years. I wonder whether the 28 people who were made redundant feel comfortable about securing employment in this "worsening economic environment". Wonder if their families are going to have a pleasant Christmas this year?

As someone who has been made redundant twice in the last three years I can speak with authority on the impact these decisions have on families. Please employers, think carefully before you hand out redundancies and look to cut costs in other areas. I’m sure employees would rather have a job than the Christmas party. 

Peter Slingo
Stream Solutions

We have all seen recessions before; times are not the best but the term "We are in rough and uncertain times" is a bad, bad statement.

Let’s talk it up, not down be positive and ask others to be the same and we as an industry will be better off.

Anonymous Supplier


Re: Shades of grey over future of Yellow Pages

To me it seems only natural that Sensis and Yellow Pages will struggle in the future.

You can only treat your clients as idiots for so long! We have advertised in the local area section of the directory for several years now and have recently ceased advertising with them. Why? We are the only printer in our suburb, yet when you search this postcode,  50 printers come up, 49 of which are way over the other side of town!

And guess where we appear on the list: that’s right number 50 even though we are the only printer in this suburb and pay good money to appear in the locality guide.

I know printers have reps and will travel, but have had similar trouble before looking for a motor mechanic or lawnmower repairer near home. From a directory you want quick, accurate information. The online search is both slow and inaccurate.

We’ll spend our advertising dollar elsewhere thanks.

Peter Booth





I haven’t used hardcopy White or Yellow Pages in years. I always go online.
And Google is faster to use than Sensis’s Yellow Pages.
The PMP (and Sensis) folks are delusional on this one.

Stephen Munro

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