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Nina Palmer | Manager U.S. Division, Ross-Ellis

One of the areas that is rarely talked about, but is almost always mentioned as a reason we all love records is the packaging!  So this week we are thrilled to get to introduce you to someone who is a pillar of our vinyl community in the print arena, and wouldn’t you know it, a woman.  Meet Nina Palmer, manager of the US division of Ross-Ellis.  For those that don’t work in vinyl manufacturing, Ross-Ellis is one of the main, if not the main printer for all your vinyl packaging needs, from inserts to custom jackets they do it all. Through sales offices in Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto, Ross-Ellis services a broad North American-wide customer base. Since 1995, they have been a business unit of TC Transcontinental, one of the largest printing and media companies in North America, with operations in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

When Nina isn’t at work she says, “I have four grown children, one grandchild, three dogs, four stray cats and a tortoise that keep me busy. I love to read. I love crafts like knitting and pottery and I love to cook. I love art and museums and travel and working out”.

How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?

I was born into the vinyl manufacturing business. My father invented the automation for the LENED record press when I was a kid and our dinner table conversations always involved swing arms and suction cups and trimmers all being demonstrated by knives, forks, spoons, and plates. After many years in college and several unpractical but incredibly fun degrees, I had to move back home. I never thought to be in business. I was always more of an art and book enthusiast. I studied German literature and have a Masters in both German lit (specializing in fairy tales) and Library science. But when my dad’s bookkeeper left, I went to work for him.

At Lened, I got acquainted with many of the pressing plants both in North America and Europe. Soon after, I became partners in a pressing plant called Sound Makers in South Jersey. My two years in South Jersey taught me many things about the music business and the vinyl business. It was a great internship for what was to follow. Ross Ellis decided to try to break into the US market at this time. They were printing record jackets for the major labels in Canada and believed that the same product could be sold in the US. Sound Makers was one of their larger consignees, so we got acquainted and I moved to NY and started working for them. The year was 1981.

When I started working at Ross Ellis, it was a relatively small entrepreneurial company, started and run by two most amazing people: Mr. Ellis and Mr. Peladeau. These gentlemen were incredible businesspeople, but more importantly they were wonderful human beings. That is what inspired me. Their sense of right and wrong, their honesty and their optimistic view of humanity was like a magnet for me. They gave me, a young woman not even 30 years old, the chance to build their US presence in a music industry that employed very few women at the time. I am forever grateful. And to add to that, Transcontinental, which is the corporation that bought Ross Ellis in 1995, has fundamental values which very much align with mine. They are active on the environmental front – they encourage woman to be leaders, they believe in the value of their employees.

What is a day in the life like?

I can honestly say that even after a million years at this job, every day is different. I spend a good amount of time watching the orders come in and making sure all expectations on both the client side and the company side are being addressed. I manage most issues, again as the intermediary between the client and the plant. I give advice to the sales reps and help the customer service reps. I am part of the management team, so I can have an impact on policy and procedure from the plant perspective. I get to give advice and help in determining design elements and I spend quite a bit of time talking to the labels or the plants regarding their projects and the possibilities. No two days are the same. I like that.

In your opinion what has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?

I have been privileged to work on a great many wonderful projects over the years. But if forced to name one, it would be “Music That Changes The World” a beautiful book which holds four records in sleeves that are pages, with four different 8-to-12-page booklets intermixed. It is a David Lynch Foundation Music release, and I was lucky enough to work on it with Walt Rossmann from Imprint. It was a great learning experience for both of us and working with Walt was such a joy. He is deeply missed.

What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?

Disappointing clients or disappointing staff.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?

My advice would be to make sure your fundamental values are not compromised by your workplace. It is so important to be true to your core set of beliefs. Make sure to peek through every door that may open for you, do not reject before investigating and keep an open mind to what is possible. If you have a dream, then you should chase it and if you do not, try to create one.

Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?

I am not much of a collector. My road to the vinyl industry almost seemed preordained. It was not my intention but I fell in love with its creativity and the passion of those who are in this industry – be it the artists, the graphic artists and even those of us who aid the creators.

What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.

The quote, unquote resurgence of vinyl is full circle for me. It amazes me that I am back where I started only significantly older. I am impressed with the new pressing equipment on the market and wish my dad were alive to see what automation looks like today.

I worry about supply and demand; first I worried about not enough supply and now I am beginning to worry about not enough demand (but that is way in the future I believe).

Who has been influential to you and your growth as a professional in this industry?

My biggest influencer is my husband, Steve Sheldon. He taught me the morality of business and for that I will be forever grateful. Had he not shown me that I could be true to my values and still succeed, I probably would not have lasted. He was also my biggest cheerleader as I ventured into areas not yet tread upon by woman.

Anything else you’d like to add, otherwise tell us what you’re listening to: 

Good old rock and roll.

Find Nina: 

Facebook: @Ross-Ellis-Packaging-Solutions

Website: www.rossellis.com

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