Wearables Talk With Marshall Atkinson

Wearables caught up with Marshall Atkinson, a decorated-apparel industry veteran who recently joined InkSoft to lead a team that's developing production scheduling software. Atkinson talks about what he wants to hear from his boss, what a Trump presidency means for the industry and why going sustainable makes sense for your shop.

What was the most meaningful trip you’ve ever taken? Did you learn any life-altering lesson(s) that you’ve applied to your personal or professional life ever since? 

Marshall Atkinson:  Vacations at our family beach house at Alligator Point, FL. This is where you learn to relax, decompress and spend valuable time with family and friends. All too often we shove everything about our business day into our systems, and get stressed or burned out.  Turning off everything and not working is necessary, especially in this industry.  You have to schedule it and include spontaneous trips too.  It’s the key to survival.


If you had to describe yourself using three words, it would be…
MA:  Methodical.  Open.  Action.

Share your biggest current challenge you’re experiencing at work.
MA:  I was recently hired by InkSoft to lead the charge on developing a new software solution for automating production scheduling. What a challenge!  It’s essentially taking everything I’ve learned in my career and boiling it down to how to help shops succeed and proactively plan their day. It’ll have great metrics, data analysis and other tools that will help achieve efficiency and operational continuous improvement goals.

What’s the single most significant factor, that your organization controls, that’s fueling your success?
MA:  I’m surrounded by genius-level creative thinkers who all want to contribute to make their chunk of the industry great.

What’s the best business-related compliment you’ve received? 
MA:  Just meeting people who’ve read something I’ve written or attended one of my trade show seminars and they tell me that they took something and improved their shop in some way. It’s where the rubber meets the road.

If you could eliminate one thing from your daily work schedule, what would it be and why?
MA:  I want a fast-forward button. Although we’re starting to create the software, I want to see it being used already.

What’s your company doing well that you’re really proud of? How does it benefit the industry?

MA:  InkSoft helps shops succeed. Period. It’s a great way to bring in sales and add scale your shop’s revenue by creating value for your customers. The InkSoft Production Manager tool will allow the shop to handle the back end of the shop just as easily.

What’s the biggest opportunity for the decorated-apparel market right now? The biggest challenge or obstacle?
MA:  To me, the biggest opportunity is figuring out how you can serve your market demographic better with new technology. Can you do it faster, better and with more creative flair than your competition?  Tools exist for you to leapfrog over everyone else if you’re smart.  The trick is to learn what to do and then execute.

What does a Trump presidency mean for the decorated-apparel industry, in your opinion?
MA:  It all comes down to how his plan for implementing the border tax affects the industry.  For shops that rely on goods or products that are made somewhere else, it could be a drastic problem. For shops that use Made in the USA or their own products, it could be a fantastic period. No matter what happens, change is coming so the question your shop should be asking is, “Are we prepared for it?”

What’s one thing you’d do to improve the industry?
MA:  Get shops to see the operational cost benefits of implementing a sustainability program. Sign up and take the SGIA Peer-to-Peer Network class and then get the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership certification. Use this to save a boatload of money, but also leverage your shop as sustainable to increase sales.

What’s one sentence you’d like to hear from your boss?
MA:  “Great job!”

Who in the business world do you admire most or strive to emulate?
MA:  This is easy.  John Spence who wrote the book Awesomely Simple – which is about breaking things down into clear expectations and driving home the culture you want to create by painting the big picture of where you want to go.  

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
 Talk less, listen more.  Which is funny, as I sometimes can’t shut up.