We continue our introduction of SPESA's Board of Directors with Founder & President of Productive Solutions LLC, Rick Ludolph.
Productive Solutions is an industry-focused consulting and services firm committed to providing innovative business strategies, market research/analyses, actionable advice, and measurable results in the areas of management consulting, marketing, business development, and advanced technology.
The company was founded in 2003 and is based in Marietta, Georgia.
Read (and watch) below to learn more about Rick and his role in the sewn products industry!
Please tell us a little about your company, your current role, and the career path that led you there.
How were you first introduced to the industry? What attracted you to it?
RL: Like many others, it wasn’t what I had thought about doing with my life. To earn money for college, I answered a job ad for a Management Trainee at a contract apparel manufacturer. Little did I know that meant doing everything in a sewing plant, including carrying bundles and shipping finished goods! I never planned to work in this industry this long, but the many great people I have met and worked with over the years kept me engaged.
What are some of the most often requested services that you provide?
What type of companies do you work with?
What is the most surprising thing you have learned about the sewn products industry?
RL: I have been pleasantly surprised to learn how much planning, detail, and commitment goes into every aspect of the sewn products industry. I continue to be amazed at how resilient companies, leaders, and teams must be to succeed in this industry. I also marvel at the scope of the sewn products industries – the wide variety of products and methods used to succeed.
What is the most important thing you have learned during your career?
RL: My years of experience in sewn products manufacturing and manufacturing management have enabled me to understand and appreciate the needs and challenges of the industry as a whole. My years of involvement with technology have equipped me to provide guidance and assistance to companies as they embrace the demand for digital transformation.
What skill set do you think you have that made consulting work?
What is something you have accomplished during your career that makes you proud?
RL: I would have to say that gaining experience in every corner of the business. This has enabled me to learn from and help many others. I thoroughly enjoy the friendships and business relationships that the industry has afforded me over the years.
Is there anything you know now that you wish you had known when your career first began?
RL: Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 vision. Of course, I wish I knew then everything I have learned since, but it doesn’t work that way.
How have you seen the industry change during the course of your career?
RL: Immensely! Among the most significant changes have been the shift to globalization, the velocity and competitive nature of the industry, and the adoption of technology. The old saying that the only constant is change truly applies to the sewn products industry.
How have advancements in technology impacted your company and your customers?
RL: Technology represents one of the three pillars of our practice. From a time perspective, it likely accounts for more than one-half of our time and energy. This is all driven by our clients
What do you think will be the next big change or pivot for the industry?
If you could choose, what would be the next big disruption in the industry?
Are you working on any new projects right now that you are excited about?
What are the biggest challenges right now for your company?
RL: Like everyone else, the pandemic has limited our ability to travel and meet in person. We build our business on trust and straightforward business relationships. These limitations have presented significant challenges that have required us to think and act differently.
What do you think the manufacturing sector will look like 20 years from now, globally and domestically?
What do you think the next generation of the sewn products industry workforce will look like?
RL: Faster, better skilled, more versatile, and detached from traditional methods and thinking.
What advice would you give someone looking to follow in your footsteps with a career in the sewn products industry?
Thank you Rick for sharing your time and insights with us!
The SPESA Board of Directors is responsible for guiding the association's policy direction and making decisions to improve our effectiveness in representing the interests of the members and the sewn products industry.