Humans of Lob is a project dedicated to getting to know our Lobsters on an individual level. We sat down with Dave Krawczuk, our Senior Director of Supply Operations.
Tell us about your upbringing in childhood. What was it like?
I grew up in Northern New Jersey. I’m the stereotypical latchkey kid and an absolute Gen Xer! All those memes about Gen-X, they’re true. I spent most of my days outside on my bike, I had to be home when the street lights came on, and thank god there was no social media to “record” everything we did. I saw the very first video on MTV and we had some of the best music! I grew up in, absolutely, and I'll fight anybody on this, the best decade ever. I was in high school in the '80s and college was in the '90s. The best decades to grow up in because everything in the '80s was so upbeat and the '90s were incredible music and major cultural shifts.
Will you tell us a bit about you got into the Print Industry?
The way I got into the business was my father owned a print shop, so that’s where it all started. He opened it when I was five years old. Everyone in the family pitched in to make things work. Kids are cheap labor. Every one of my brothers and sisters, worked in “the shop,” as we call it. I jokingly tell people that I've been in the business since I was five.
As I said, I grew up in the '80s, so in 1984 Apple came out with the Macintosh computer. This was absolutely revolutionary. In the print business, it took a couple of years for things to bubble up to the surface, but all of a sudden they really latched on to the creative business. Apple took over the graphic design creative space. When the computer came out, it combined four or five people's jobs into one person. Now where you had a designer, a typesetter, a copy editor, and a camera person to lay out the mechanics, now it's all one person and you're doing it on the computer. WYSIWYG graphics made all of this not only possible but easy.
Then Photoshop came out, oh Lord, those two things are what I like to call "earthquake moments!" When Photoshop, Illustrator, and Quark Express began to mature, they revolutionized the business. There I was, smack in the middle of this. I was about 18 years old, this young kid, and very computer savvy. Everybody else in the business thought it was a joke, so I had unfettered access to whatever I wanted to know! I had all the toys in the world. None of them wanted anything to do with the new technology, so I was able to play around with this stuff and I took it like a duck to water. I started moving into larger organizations that were adopting these processes. I spent the next 30 years constantly moving from page composition, to prepress, to data and digital printing, and finally to direct mail.
What do you do here at Lob and how did Lob come into your life?
I am the Senior Director of Supply Operations. I work within the Partner Ops team. The main focus of what I do is to make sure that our partners are doing the best that they can, providing or producing the best product. I also assist with molding our tools and our product offering to give our customers what they need. I try to provide the process and function that they're looking for. We need to be able to hand off effectively to our partners to produce our customer’s work. I function as a subject matter expert on the Lob side in regards to our partner operations and communications.
How I came to know Lob… and it's a bit of a funny story. In my past life, so again, I'm in New Jersey, and Verizon’s headquarters are in New Jersey. I have known the Verizon team for about 15 years, I've worked with them on varying projects. Brian Callahan at Verizon had called me up and would often ask me questions. One day he called me up and asked me, "have you ever heard of this company called Lob?" I said, no, but let me take a look.
I came to the website and signed up for a Developer Account, and poked around a little bit. I thought "oh this is very interesting." This is something that I had been trying to build and develop at varying companies for the last 15 years. I believed very strongly in a distributed print network. I believed in using HTML as a page construction language. When it comes to distribution, I have a saying, "it's easier for me to push pixels than it is to push paper." In my other companies, we never succeeded at the HTML page construction. We hit a couple of roadblocks and couldn't get past it. It didn’t work very well. In the distributed network, I had varying levels of success, but I was constrained to one company and whatever the resources we had there. The print industry is very slow to change and slow to adopt new processes.
Verizon decided to work with Lob and they started the integration of systems. Brian introduced me to Ryan Ferrier (Lob’s Chief of Operations) and Ryan then introduced me to Dan Zhao (Lob’s VP of Strategy & Operations). Dan and I started talking, we would have these lunch calls every Friday at 1 o’clock. On these phone calls we would talk about digital print and the print industry at large. I will admit, I saw a lot within Lob that I liked. I started paying attention to the Lob job boards and talking to everybody! I would get invited to calls about different problems they were having and we would discuss strategy. This went on for a couple of months. Then we hit January of last year, and everything changed. All of a sudden there was an offer, and here I am!
My job is not just a job. I really enjoy this. It's funny, talking about hobbies, this is my hobby! It's important for me to believe in what I'm doing. Beyond that, the absolute cinch for me was when I was going through the interview process I liked everyone that I talked to. Usually, you get one or two people that you like, but here every single person I talked to was amazing. I've been remarkably impressed with our People team, and our process. We hire smart people and we hire good people. When I decided to work here I thought, these are the people that I want to do it with. That was the absolute center of my decision to work here, that I would get to do stuff that I love with awesome people.
When have you felt the proudest?
I will tell you the top 10 moments of my life almost all revolve around my wife or my daughter. I mean, my daughter graduating high school or when she graduates college, oh my god, I'm going to be an actual puddle of tears. I'm the luckiest man on the planet. I can honestly say that I won the lottery twice. The first one was when my wife said yes. The second was when my daughter was born. They are the two most amazing human beings in my life. Period. My proudest accomplishment is that little girl because she is just the most incredible thing. It's just beautiful to watch her grow up as a human and become not only her own person, but the world that she creates and the things that she does. I'm so fortunate to be a dad who still has a great relationship with his daughter. She blossomed into one of the most beautiful people ever. I am damn proud of it.
I don’t want to minimize a lot of the stuff that I've done in my career because I've had a lot of incredible things that have happened. Those proud moments are reflected in the people I get to work with. I'm a firm believer that you have to give back to the equation that paid into you. I always encourage people to mentor and bring others into the work you’re doing. Pay it forward. I am where I am because of a lot of people that gave their time to teach me things, so I try to teach whenever I get a chance. We have to push people, we have an obligation to grow, to bring new people along. Somebody did it for me, it’s my obligation to pay it forward.
If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something? What would it be?
Picking one thing? I don't know that I can do that! If I could learn to play the guitar or the piano, a musical instrument, that would be awesome. People who are musicians are just incredible people and minds. I would love to be better or more focused on the creative arts. I have been on the other side of the equation most of my life. I would like to be a lot more creative in the arts than I am right now.
If you could have dinner with anyone who would it be and why?
For the longest time, I will say this answer was Steve Jobs. I appreciated him for a long time. It was impressive that he was willing to stand up to an extraordinary wave of pressure from millions of people, significant people, and he stood his ground. It's just stunning to me, and to really have the opportunity to talk to him, even though he's passed, would be very interesting.
There would be a couple of other people, Johnny Ive, another Apple-related person. I’m fascinated by people who see things that the rest of the world doesn’t see and are willing to create things that don't exist. I love builders, I like people who create things and make something out of nothing. It's those people who do that that will forever have my respect, and always be interested to know how did they see what they would end up creating. I always want to try to grow that part of my brain. I don't ever want to lose that curiosity in myself or in my career. I want to talk to people who were just like that.