Printing For Less in Livingston has grown into one of the area’s largest employers

Estimated read time 9 min read

SEAN BATURA Livingstone Enterprise

With a new CEO and hundreds of employees, one of Livingston’s largest businesses is doing better than ever since its founding 26 years ago.

“These last eight months have been the strongest sales period in the company’s history,” said Dave Hawkins, who became the new CEO of PFL in January. “We have become more focused on serving primarily large enterprises through direct mail automation and print and fulfillment.”

Keeping employees inspired and motivated at PFL is one of the keys to the company’s success, helped by traditions of taking dogs to work, maintaining an on-site childcare facility, company horseback rides, whitewater rafting trips, winter potlucks, summer barbecues, monthly “ primetime meetings,” employee anniversary kits, open-plan offices and competitive benefits packages, officials with the company say.

“Most of our employees do consider it a very family friendly environment,” said Suzie Lalich, PFL’s vice president of employee success. “There’s lots of opportunity for professional growth.”

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In fact, some of the children at PFL’s pre-K daycare grew up and went on to take summer jobs with the company or serve as interns, Lalich said.

“We have a lot of related people working here — but no spouses reporting to one another,” Hawkins said.

Dogs roam freely in portions of the Livingston headquarters — a tradition that began in 1999, when the company’s founder, Andrew Field, brought his border collie/black lab, Jessie, to work.

On Wednesday, some of the office dogs preferred to stick by their owners, while others were more adventurous, greeting people in the hallways or “making the rounds” to particularly friendly workstations.

“There’s a few that are very persistent about their biscuits,” Lalich said.

One of PFL’s elder canines, 11-year-old Tater, was on hand Wednesday with his owner, Maria Siebeck, who also has some longevity with the company. A production coordinator, Siebeck has worked at PFL for 21 years. Asked what’s kept her at PFL for so long, she smiled and said, “Bringing my dog ​​to work.” The tater was the second of her dogs who accompanied her to the office, she said.

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PFL employee Maria Siebeck hangs out with her 11-year-old dog Tater, at the company’s Livingston office on March 22.

Livingstone Enterprise

Life with the company was much different 21 years ago.

“We were crammed into one little, teeny weeny building,” she said from the cavernous office area. “We have a lot more room now. I had like a closet I shared with six other people [21 years go]. To push back your chair, you had to ask the guy behind you to suck it in.”

Originally from Chicago, Siebeck appreciates rural Montana.

“I love Livingston — small town,” Siebeck said.

An upper story, the outdoor break area at PFL headquarters gives employees quite a view of the mountains — just one of the features of western Montana that makes it desirable for many locals who opt to stick around. Peyton Kimmel expressed gratitude for the chance to stay in her neck of the woods.

“One of the main reasons why I chose PFL was because I could stay in a place I love,” said Kimmel, who works for PFL as a customer advocate.

Print For Less

Workers stay busy inside the PFL headquarters in Livingston on Wednesday.

Livingstone Enterprise

A resident of Big Timber, Kimmel started working at PFL right after graduating from Montana State University in 2022 with a degree in business marketing. As she spoke with the Livingston Enterprise on Wednesday, her five-year-old dog, Snip, reclined in a bed under her workstation.

“She’s retired from being a cow dog to an office dog,” Kimmel said.

Keith Jacobik, senior vice president of production, was on hand Wednesday to show the Enterprise various areas of the 55,000-square-foot facility added a few years ago. The building, which doubled PFL’s capacity, houses two laser engravers, three digital print machines, kitting area, fulfillment area, mailing area and more. A UV flatbed box printer at a second level was in the middle of printing a 750-unit order and recently completed a 10,000-box run that took about four days, Jacobik said.

A resident of Paradise Valley, Jacobik has been with the company for 14 years.

“It’s been great — just awesome people, great challenges all the time,” Jacobik said. “It’s really nice to have a great place to work in a beautiful spot. There’s been lots of opportunities given to me along the way.”

New leadership

Hawkins was recruited to the PFL in 2022 and promoted from the position of chief financial officer. A resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has three grown children in their mid-20s and lives with his wife within an hour of them.

Although Hawkins calls Michigan home, he spends a lot of time in Livingston and makes personal connections with the staff there.

“People do a lot of stuff together outside of work,” Hawkins said. “Me and a few guys were at the bar doing trivia night [at the The Owl Lounge] and won 300 bucks. Last month, we won 500 — it was a bigger crowd.”

Prior to joining PFL, Hawkins served in a variety of executive roles with private equity backed tech firms, focusing on growing businesses and helping them achieve sustainable profitability. Most recently, he was CEO of ImageSoft, a leading provider of document management systems and eFiling for courts.

“The reason I agreed to come [on board with PFL] is I saw a tremendous opportunity to impact millions of people through the power of effective engagement,” Hawkins said. “We serve a lot of big-name customers — Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, Blue Cross, AT&T.”

PFL also counts banks, universities, health care firms and insurance companies among its clients, Hawkins said.

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Printing For Less campus in Livingston.

“While our e-commerce print business thrives serving SMBs (small and medium businesses), our MarTech business sells software subscriptions to Fortune 500 companies, enabling them to include print and direct mail as an integral component of their hitherto digital-only marketing efforts, said PFL founder Andrew Field in a Wednesday email. “These customers spend hundreds of thousands to millions each year, because they see such outstanding results on the programs they run with us.”

A scare for locals

With PFL being such a major employer in the area, some residents were alarmed when they noticed the company had sold one of its buildings in January. But this sale, in fact, wasn’t a sign of trouble but a smart business movie, Hawkins told The Enterprise.

“We sold the building to free up $11 million in cash to invest in further growth,” Hawkins said. “It was a really healthy thing for us to do.”

This practice of selling a building to a third party and renting it is known as a sale and lease back transaction — a way to raise funds to expand operations, Hawkins said.

Another business move made in recent years was bringing on Goldman Sachs as an investor.

“They do not have a controlling interest, so they have a partial share of ownership, and that happened in 2018,” Hawkins said. “It enabled us to expand our software development and sales and marketing functions.”

Many ways to contribute

PFL employs people in sales, accounting, childcare, procurement, the print and finishing area and in the warehouse, among other roles. The company had a little more than two dozen open positions as of Wednesday, Lalich said.

The company also has a full product and software development team, created in 2014. In addition to designing software that helps companies automate and personalize direct mail processes, PFL’s software engineers also created the database program used by employees throughout the company. Some of this software interfaces with various machinery on site in Livingston.

“We have a really strong partnership with Salesforce,” Hawkins said. “They consider us to be in the top 10 percent of all their partners. So that means they work with us to sell our products together. As they sell to their prospects, they mention they can add our software into theirs and create more functionality for their customers.”

in the beginning

Field retired as PFL’s CEO a little over a year ago and sits on the company’s board of directors, but isn’t involved in daily operations these days.

He started the company in 1996 after a fishing buddy suggested starting a print shop. At the time, Field was selling auto supplies to businesses, but he had experience working for Minneapolis-based Meyers Printing in the 1980s, as well as Sir Speedy. After about six weeks of market research, he discovered there were only two other printers in the Livingston area.

Field hired six employees, bought a $425,000 Heidelberg sheetfed press, and saw the business’ revenue reach $80,000 a month in short orders. More than 220,000 customers have been served since the company’s founding, and in the last two years alone, it’s sent 58 million pieces of mail, according to Jennifer Bellin, the company’s chief marketing officer.

“He was a very active leader,” Hawkins said of Field. “There’s not that many people who can say they grew a company to nearly $50 million in annual revenue.”

Lalich said he knows Field well, having been with PFL for the last 16 years.

“He was such a visionary,” Lalich said. “He built an amazing company and was also very passionate about his people, and I would say he left a very strong foundation for us to continue to build on.”

The future

With Hawkins as the new CEO, the PFL is still in good hands, Lalich said.

“He’s really embraced who we are,” she said. “He’s come in and really listens to our employees and is really focused on trying to make the employee experience a really exceptional one, and I think he’s really helped with the growth and the strategies behind driving our growth.”

Hawkins said company officials had contemplated changing PFL’s name.

“We had thought about it last year but decided not to,” Hawkins said. “We have a lot of brand equity in the PFL name, it’s been around for 25 years — a lot of people know us.”

Hawkins said the company wants to continue growing, but isn’t looking to change its vision of “improving lives by connecting people through authentic moments.”

Vintage postcard scenes from Eastern Montana

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