5 Minutes With... David Gross

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Welcome to Five Minutes With, featuring the thoughts, ideas and opinions of the industry’s most successful and experienced professionals. We are very pleased this month to interview David Gross, president of Condé© Systems.

A&E: How did you get started in this industry?

David: I’m an electrical engineer, and I went to Auburn University. Right out of college, I did not want to leave Mobile. So I walked in off of the street into a startup by the name of QMS. I began designing their electronics which went inside printers. The company became a New York Stock Exchange company and was incredibly successful. I was able to deal with the very first digital output devices. Through that experience, I got two things in my blood. One was the digital output world, and the other was color. I fell in love with both of those dealing with printers and color.

A&E: When did you decide to start Condé© Systems?

David: QMS was acquired by another company, and I left shortly before that acquisition. I wanted to start my own company, and I wanted to do something with printers and color. I wanted to do something that was high value. Ultimately the field we found that was real exciting was what I call digital decorating, a term I have used for the last 15 years. As we got into this, we decided to focus on sublimation and transfer paper.

A&E: Condé© Systems and you specifically are known to get involved in a lot of educational sublimation projects. What have you been up to lately?

David: I just got done with a tremendous amount of work for Clemson University. They’re doing an interesting study on sublimation, and we printed a bunch of transfers for them and gave them substrates. All sorts of things like that are taking place, and it’s one of the most exciting things happening in sublimation now. We work with a lot of schools, and these schools are using sublimation in a way that is very impressive. They’re using it as a physics lesson, as a computer lesson, as a trade school lesson and as an economics lesson. Bottom line is that the kids learn a lot. I’ve gone to schools and given lectures on all of this to help people understand, hoping that instead of migrating to video consoles, they’ll take an interest in this world. I love it. It’s a lot of fun.

A&E: What can awards shops do that will help their business?

David: It really does come down to one thing. I think that a lot of folks are afraid of change. I find that the number-one thing that’s holding people back from growing their business and becoming more profitable is that they’re not trying to offer new types of products. They’re stuck in their old ways of selling essentially the same products they sold 10 or 15 years ago. It’s very difficult to get some of these businesses to change. The bottom line is, don’t let your lack of understanding of new technology get in the way of introducing new and exciting products to your clientele.

A&E: Thanks for taking the time to spend five minutes with A&E.

David: Thanks for thinking of us.

Be sure to check in again next month, when A&E selects another industry professional to spend 5 Minutes With