Bean Town Business Builder
With a proven track record for strengthening businesses and organizations, Aladdin Label's Tom Cobery is packagePRINTING's TLMI 2003 Converter of the Year.
TOM COBERY SAYS that it was "almost comical" how he got into the label printing industry back in the early 1980s. His contributions, though, to both the industry in general, and the TLMI in particular, are no laughing matter. His leadership in guiding two companies and the TLMI down a path of solid growth has earned him this year's selection as the TLMI Converter of the Year.
An accountant by training, Cobery received a degree from Bentley College in 1972 and proceeded to work in public accounting. His call into the label printing industry came in a roundabout way when his high-tech company outside of Boston was sold in early 1982. As a courtesy to one of its board members, Cobery met with Len Peterson, founder and owner of Label Art, and Bill Flynn, newly hired as CEO. Discussions worked out, and he has been making his mark in the label industry ever since.
Label Art at the time had sales of less than $5 million, and specialized in short-run, pressure-sensitive label printing. With his financial background, Cobery initially reported to Flynn as chief financial officer, moved to chief operating officer in 1986, and became its president and CEO upon Flynn's departure in 1987.
During the 18 years he was in senior management positions at Label Art, the company grew from $5 million in sales to more than $50 million. From one manufacturing operation when he came on board in 1982, the company peaked at six plants before settling in at four in 2000.
The value of teamwork is an important element in Cobery's management style. One of his favorite quotes is from Althea Gibson, the first black athlete to play and eventually win championships at Wimbledon and Forest Hills in the 1950s. The quote is simple, "No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helps you."