Ralph Umbriano went to college determined to become an attorney, but a low draft number and the prospect of heading to Vietnam caused a change in direction. He jumped into a machine design program, the draft ended, and he was soon offered a chance to go to work designing engineered sealing devices for the industrial market.
The Rhode Island native did product design, provided technical sales support and assumed the role of Sales Engineer with EG&G Sealol, a division of a Fortune 500 company. Umbriano set sales records, climbing the ladder and continuing to take on more management responsibilities, including Global Business Element Manager and Marketing Director — roles that had him spending more than 25 percent of his time in Europe and elsewhere. They put him through extensive training, including Kellogg Executive Marketing and Leadership Development programs, among others.
When EG&G was acquired, he decided to work with another company in the industry, A.W. Chesterton, where he streamlined the marketing and strategic accounts functions from five divisions into one and oversaw 45 people. He had spent a career focused on consultative, solution-based selling and marketing, but with his wife running a successful retail store, the corporate life was getting old.
“The climate was changing, and the corporate approach was getting to be too impersonal,” Umbriano said. “I wanted to get back to a more hands-on approach, with direct responsibility for running a business, and I needed to be with my family. It was time to do something different.”
He knew he wanted to use his sales and marketing background in a business-to-business environment, and he recognized that the “printing” industry had become a dynamic marketplace. A business broker introduced him to AlphaGraphics.
“I didn’t have any pre-conceived notions, other than I wanted a comprehensive approach, something that brought value to customers, something that could be built upon,” he said. “A number of opportunities were presented to me, but AlphaGraphics was really attractive. I visited with others in the industry, and felt that AG was the best positioned for the future.“
Now having purchased an AlphaGraphics Business Center in Framingham, Mass., he says his marketing background offers an easy transition to helping other small businesses succeed—focusing on processes and efficiencies and cost savings, from a marketing standpoint.
“It’s a higher-level mindset, a step above in terms of approach,” Umbriano said. “Nobody was filling that gap, and AlphaGraphics recognized the opportunity. This isn’t about printing… it’s about helping businesses build an identity. I’m still working with customers to make them better as I have for 30 years, but now I’m doing it through my own company.”