Larry Sage – Mactac North America
The rolls of adhesive-backed paper can stand as high as 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide before becoming the little labels consumers see on appliances, deli packages, health and beauty aids and prescription medications.
Those rolls of labels are the bread-and-butter product offered by Mactac North America, and for more than 20 years, it’s been the job of Larry Sage to ensure the company can keep producing them and compete against larger companies.
Now in his second go-around with the company, Sage is guiding a tech transformation that will help Mactac integrate recent acquisitions and confront what he calls unprecedented supply chain issues.
“I view myself more as a solutions architect. I’ve spent most of my career translating business processes into systems,” Sage says. “From a simple spreadsheet to a platform we build or buy, it’s all about selecting the right solution for the business.”
Founded in 1959 by Burton “Burt” Morgan, Mactac is headquartered in Stow, Ohio, south of Cleveland. It has more than 700 employees working at facilities in the U.S. and Mexico.
Mactac also makes vinyl graphics products, such as wraps for trade show booths and vehicles. It makes decals for windows, walls and floors, too—some end up as signs used to direct traffic or mark social distancing requirements at stories. Mactac also makes the antimicrobial laminate covering touchpads on ATMs.
“When you look at our portfolio, we’re almost like three or four separate companies. Our platforms have to be flexible to meet the changing business needs,” Sage says.
Now the vice president, strategic initiatives and IT, Sage initially worked for the company from November 1995 until July 2013 in a variety of tech roles, including in the development of the supply chain department and as SAP project lead at its Soignies, Belgium, facility.
He returned in February 2016 and was promoted to his current position in March 2018. His second tenure is marked by expansion, most recently in April 2021, when Mactac acquired Duramark Products (formerly known as Ritrama USA) and that company’s facilities in Minneapolis and Moore, South Carolina.
As a result of the acquisition, Sage is leading “LINKS,” which stands for Linking Information Network and Knowledge System. A team of more than 60 employees are making comprehensive upgrades that include new systems for enterprise resource planning, customer management, and manufacturing.
The upgrades, provided by vendors vetted over two years, cover areas including finance and accounting, as well as procurement, production scheduling and manufacturing. The primary systems selected are JD Edwards Enterprise One and Greycon Mills, Sage says.
LINKS will also include an upgrade of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Esker AP/OM and updates to the e-commerce platforms provided by Optimizedly and Onveous, Sage says.
“Because we have a wide variety of systems, it’s important that we have tight integrations between the various platforms. We also want best of breed applications to meet our changing needs,” he says.
Mactac will begin implementing LINKS in its Mexico operations in early 2022. Sage says the full roll out is still being planned, but the company looks to bring the Minneapolis plant into the network next.
“We will be taking a conservative approach to our roll outs,” he adds. “Because the LINKS project touches so many areas, we will spend the necessary time testing and validating and will not go live until systems have been fully verified.”
From ideas to tools
Born in Dallas, Sage moved to Sacramento, California, when he was young, but says most of his life has been spent in Ohio. He earned his bachelor’s degree in communications and business administration from Azusa Pacific University in Southern California, and says he was interested in a career in marketing.
However, as the field of IT was changing, Sage says he “kind of fell into” application development. After returning from his Mactac assignment in Belgium, he felt it was time to try some different opportunities, saying there was not a role for him at Mactac.
He briefly worked for Bemis, Mactac’s parent company, and then became a senior project manager for TMW Systems in 2014. After a year, he joined Signet, which operates jewelry stores including Kay, Jared, Peoples and Piercing Pagoda, as project manager for the real estate and store planning group. When Mactac CEO Ed LaForge asked him to rejoin the company, Sage was excited to return.
“There’s a reason I came back,” Sage says. “I left on good terms for another opportunity, but I came back because of the culture, people and desire to see the company become larger. Building things out so people can use them daily and enjoy it is very rewarding. No one should come to work dreading what we’ve built. Systems need to be business focused and not overly complicated.”
View this feature in the Winter II 2022 Edition here.
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