In 2013, Gianni Zanasi recruited Gary O’Hearn to manage Zanasi USA, the American office of his commercial inkjet printer manufacturing business. With a home office in Modena, Italy, he needed someone in the Brooklyn Park office who had a better sense of American business customers.
He had moved overseas to Modena’s sister city St. Paul in 1995 to take advantage of the larger American marketplace, but sales floundered without an America-specific business plan and corporate structure. The current issue of Enterprise Minnesota® magazine profiles how O’Hearn has experienced nothing but success in his new role.
O’Hearn had been a management consultant with abundant managerial experience at companies like Hughes Aircraft/Raytheon and General Dynamics. Although he had no experience with industrial inkjet printing, O’Hearn saw the opening for a branch manager as the “perfect opportunity” to take the reins from an absentee owner who knew he had a good product and business model but needed someone to take charge.
Zanasi founded his company in 1978, after ceramic tile makers in Italy approached him about using ink-jet technology to mark their tiles in unique ways. Before long, Zanasi’s inkjet printers were being used for purposes way beyond tiles—logos, bar codes, sell-by dates and more were being printed onto products ranging from packaged food to lumber.
As businesses everywhere have transitioned to this automated and more efficient way of labeling their products, Zanasi USA is one company among many that manufactures and markets industrial printers to a huge global market. After opening in Minnesota, it opened additional branch offices in China and Spain and now sells printers in some 60 countries on five continents.
O’Hearn says part of his mission was to infuse Zanasi USA with a culture aimed at American sales. “The company previously didn’t understand the marketing culture,” he says. “They didn’t understand the employment culture. They didn’t understand the employment laws.”
His team conducted a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, updated procedures and processes, implemented new personnel changes, and instituted a command focus on growth.
Within a year of coming aboard, Gianni Zanasi, still the company’s sole owner, named O’Hearn chairman of the board, removing himself from the position. Jason Spangler, the company’s most senior employee and who had the most technical knowledge, was named board secretary.
In 2014, O’Hearn relocated the company to Maple Grove where he continues to operate his $3 million operation with two technicians, three sales people, a customer service agent and an office manager—all of whom are cross-trained to meet customers’ needs. Third-party partners represent half of the company’s business. Revenue streams include systems, inks, parts, repair, maintenance contracts, and installation and design services.
O’Hearn emphasizes that Zanasi USA’s equipment, all manufactured in Italy, “is designed and built with Italian ingenuity.” Think Ferrari. Think Maserati. Both of which also hail from Modena, Italy.
After seven years with the company, O’Hearn’s mantra about business and marketing applies both to his personal goal of finding his “perfect opportunity” and the continued growth of Zanasi USA. “Our value is that we bridge the gap between ‘I wish we could’ and ‘Look what we did!’”
August 6 – Are Your Leaders On Board?
Join us as talent development expert Michele Neale discusses ways to guide teams successfully through change, improve company culture and maximize productivity. Online via Zoom Learn more and register
August 11 – Leading Through Daily Dialogue
Continuous improvement expert Greg Langfield will be demonstrating how managers can use CI to better communicate with shop floor employees and work smarter, not harder to meet customer demands. Online via Zoom Learn more and register
August 19 – Driving Continuous Improvement in Uncertain Times
David Ahlquist, a seasoned CI and ISO expert will show you how and why Continuous Improvement can be used to help your business continue to meet customer demands while improving your bottom line. Online via Zoom Learn more and register
August 27 – Driving Continuous Improvement in Uncertain Times
Can’t make it August 19? Join us for David Ahlquist’s engaging presentation on how manufacturers can leverage CI to improve operations and weather uncertainty. Online via Zoom Learn more and register
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Trades Hub helps young workers find Minnesota manufacturing jobs
Trades Hub is a not-for-profit digital platform that connects young people, particularly women and minorities, to two-year colleges, training, scholarships and employment opportunities. August 1, Star Tribune Read more
Bemidji Steel changes with the times to forge success
For almost four decades, Bemidji Steel has been evolving to meet its customers’ needs, by investing in state-of-the-art machinery and training, but always keeping a community focus. August 3, Bemidji Pioneer Read more
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