Brand with purpose. That’s the motto of San Francisco-based, full-service printers Social Imprints. The company believes engaged employees make the best customer service representatives, and that everyone, even individuals with barriers to employment, belong in the Social Imprints family. We caught up with SI to discuss what keeps more than 1,500 nationally recognized brands loyal to the company and what drives their mission, along with their business forward.
Ad Council: What inspired you to start Social Imprints?
Social Imprints: After years of working in the non-profit world, Jeff Sheinbein & Kevin McCracken wanted to create a company that made the employees the center of our business, allowing them to become owners and help make key management decisions. We wanted to create a different kind of printing company, one that would offer high-quality promotional products and outstanding customer service, while providing maximum social returns to the community. Putting good products together with a good social mission.
AC: How does your recruitment process differ from other companies?
SI: Our actual recruiting is the same as any other company, we use all the top job sites, as well as our personal and professional networks to find candidates. What sets us apart is Social Imprint puts an emphasis on hiring individuals with barriers to employment. People who were formerly incarcerated, have struggled with substance abuse, and have educational or economic barriers to employment are welcome to apply and work at Social Imprints.
AC: Are there certain questions you ask that help determine if a candidate is right for a position with SI?
SI: We put candidates through a pretty rigorous interview process, including meeting with the team they are going to work with. If the chemistry is there, we generally hire the candidate.
AC: If a company spends a certain amount of money with SI, you will hire a new employee. Can you explain this process?
SI: Social Imprints generally hires a new employee when we increase sales by $400-500K. We are in the process of creating a new customer portal that will track this number for clients.
AC: Why did you decide to structure SI around giving back?
SI: Jeff & Kevin both believe that good social mission can be achieved without sacrificing profits. Social Imprints is a great example of this. Both founders come from a social enterprise run by a non-profit organization. This was the next step in the evolution of the social enterprise model.
AC: What do you attribute to the success of SI?
SI: Social Imprints is successful because of our service and products. Many clients would work with us once or twice because of our social mission, but to keep clients we need to be the best at what we do. Promotional merchandise is an extremely competitive market. Social Imprints is in the top 2% of annual sales, and we continue to add global brands to our client list. We offer a solution for the needs of our target market and execute for them.
AC: Do you have plans to expand the business?
SI: Social Imprints will be expanding by offering a new workforce development program in 2018. More news to follow on that program. We are also looking at opening in other cities down the road.
AC: Do you have any favorite Ad Council campaigns? Why?
SI: Love Has No Labels. Social Imprints got to work on the campaign by producing T-Shirts. It is one of the best campaigns we have ever been a part of for any organization. It speaks directly to the core beliefs of Social Imprints, inclusion and diversity!
AC: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
SI: Find what you love to do, and do it 100%
AC: What would you tell someone who doubts the importance of companies playing a role in making the world a better place?
SI: It’s obvious the great harm and the great good that companies can do to the world. I would say that if you doubt that companies, even small ones, can make a difference, come talk to any one of the 35 employees we have at Social Imprints. Even hiring one person that would have difficulty finding work affects a whole family and community in a positive way. Giving back is really not that difficult, and if more companies made it part of their business model we could truly change the world.