Southeastern Printing’s Chuck Gerardi Shares The Lessons He’s Learned By Taking On Challenges In Business
Chuck Gerardi, director of sales and marketing for Southeastern Printing, is as capable of being on a team as he is leading the pack.
Business leader Chuck Gerardi loves baseball—from playing Little League as a kid to supporting his 16-year-old son’s team at King’s Academy in West Palm Beach, to volunteering on an advisory board for Roger Dean Stadium.
Lessons learned from the diamond inform his diverse business background leading high-profile organizations through tough economic circumstances and periods of rebuilding.
Like a batter facing a full count in a close game, he knows the pressure of everyone’s expectations rests on his performance.
Still, he understands that teamwork—essential to effective fielding—is the only way an organization can achieve sustained success. His communication skills, ability to adapt and innovate, and willingness to handle difficult decisions make him a sought-after leader.
Currently the director of sales and marketing for Southeastern Printing, Gerardi is charged with melding two sales teams of 20 total members after the company acquired Franklin Dodd Communications in Miami.
The former executive director of the Economic Council of Martin County, Gerardi also spent more than 30 years in the newspaper business as the general manager of production, circulation, distribution and advertising sales for the Palm Beach Post.
Married to Lisa Gerardi, the Palm City resident and father of four—who also serves on boards for the Education Foundation of Martin County, Helping People Succeed and South Florida Fair—shared the secrets he’s learned taking on big challenges in business.
So, this is a notable acquisition for Southeastern Printing, isn’t it?
“Both companies are 90-plus years old; both do commercial printing. Franklin Dodd [Communications] does a lot of direct mail. We do too, as well as wide-format printing—banners, retractable materials for trade shows, vinyls. I’m trying to bring common direction, business acumen and sales focus to two different markets. We work to cultivate climates from 100 miles apart, and I’m in two different physical locations at least twice a week.”
It seems like the membership of the Economic Council expanded under your leadership.
“I didn’t come to that job with experience in economic development or politics, but it was for membership and organizational leadership. The membership grew by about 20 to 25 percent. We brought in a more diverse business base—diversity of industry, diversity of mindset. We brought in some young and emerging talent in Martin County.”
Tell me about your time in the newspaper business.
“At the end of 2000, I got to the Post as vice president of advertising. At that time, the newspaper industry was still thriving. The real estate market was going gangbusters. We were riding record revenues. I was general manager over everything except editorial, finance and human resources—about 500 people. For the next five years after 2006, we were in a significant downsizing mode. The revenue model for newspapers was crashing, not only here but across the country. Over that five-year period, we reduced our labor force by two-thirds. It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do professionally. But the (parent) Cox organization went out of its way to make the landing as soft as possible. Even when the message is difficult, when it’s delivered with compassion and care, I think it makes all the difference.”
What common threads do you find in these diverse business experiences?
“If you approach things differently, you can accomplish things—and that’s been a common thread at all three places. Never be willing to accept that it can’t be done. Another common thread is relationships—whether it be with employees and staff or with customers. The human element is the most important piece of it. If you take the time to understand what your customer needs and find a way to solve a problem for them, that’s where you’re going to be successful.”