When you join Walker Tape Converting, you quickly pick up on the fact that Ryan is the ultimate go-to for all things tape. In our offices and on our production floor, his reputation in adhesive tape converting precedes him. For example, it can be thrilling to sit down and listen to him talk about bologna cutting. How many people can you say that about?
And it’s in these conversations that you realize something peculiar about how Ryan talks about custom converting. From developments in adhesive technologies to figuring out never-before-seen solutions, he gushes about it all as if he were the customer.
This considerate angle he takes is evident in the converting team that he’s assembled. Our culture sticks to the joy of helping people. As Ryan says, “there has to be an emotional investment.”
Through Ryan’s example, we’ve learned to treat each customer’s project like it’s our very own. “Would this email or phone call be helpful to me?” He reminds us. “Have we researched as much as we would if this project were for our own business?”
His focus on helping the customer also often puts his integrity on full display. Recently, a new member of Walker Tape wrote a blog post that was technically accurate yet still not up to Ryan’s standards of honesty. “While this statement may be correct,” Ryan noted at one point, “it could mislead customers, making them think this tape will perform better than it will.”
This attitude leads him to what may seem like a counterintuitive approach to business: “I don’t want to sell to you if I can’t help you.” But it perfectly highlights how he works in custom converting. Instead of sales, his concern is being helpful. And this concern echoes loudly in how he describes Walker Tape Converting.
“No sales team. We are building a service team of experts. We don’t sell for a commission. We serve our customers as if their project were our own.”
Ryan’s flouted the commission-incentivized concept of boots on the ground for the more customer-oriented concept of gloves on the machines. His team is one of converting experts.
Ryan’s story in adhesive tape converting and Walker Tape’s story parallel each other nicely. In fact, you can’t really tell Walker Tape’s story without talking about Ryan. As he puts it, “I grew up with Walker.”
Fresh out of high school and taking college courses in the evenings, Ryan joined Walker Tape in 2001. He was 18 years old working for a sixteen-year-old family business. With him included, Walker Tape had 12 total employees. Working with a small team in a young company, he got the chance to do everything. He started on the production floor, working with every machine and as a part of every step of the converting process.
Eventually, evening courses ran out and he needed to sign up for classes during working hours. With plans to go to law school, he was preparing for a conversation with Brent, Walker Tape’s founder. Maybe he could work part time, Ryan thought, or possibly he’d have to quit altogether. But Brent was impressed and had plans of an entirely different conversation in store for Ryan. Brent sat him down and offered him a promotion to production manager.
As the company quickly discovered Ryan’s bright future, he too realized Walker Tape’s potential and promise. His mentors included Brent, Gary (the former CEO, now retired), and Shane (the current CEO). They shared with him indispensable product knowledge, industry expertise, and principles in how to treat customers the right way. And to this day, Ryan’s quick to credit them for his success: “There’s no way I would be where I am today without those three.”
So, for eight years, he worked alongside Brent in developing strategies and increasing efficiencies all over the converting spectrum. Together, Brent and Ryan created outside-the-box innovations so efficient that while they saw business double, they only had to hire one more person to maintain the workload.
The next promotion landed Ryan with the responsibility of expanding the company’s international reach. And in keeping with his customer-oriented view, he found creative ways to help international businesses save money on shipping prices. While growing the business’s over-seas presence, he maintained go-to status any time a custom request came in.
Fast-forwarding to now, business after business finds a sigh of relief when working with Ryan. Other converters dismiss their projects as infeasible. But here’s Ryan, bringing them a finished product in a few weeks.
As reps from tape manufacturers visit, their facial expressions alone clue him in on just how special Walker Tape Converting’s capabilities are. Having been on the inside this whole time, Ryan is frequently reminded how uniquely situated we are. “Considering our decades of experience with complicated, specialty converting,” Ryan says, “we’ve got ingenuity that no other converter has and have built converting machinery that no one else can touch.”
We’ve been coming up with solutions for hard-to-stick-to surfaces since day one. And for the 35+ years since day one, we’ve taken on the gamut of custom converting projects. But our unique capabilities wouldn’t be what they are today without the talents and empathetic traits of Ryan Wismar.
“It’s so cool to be able to help entrepreneurs fulfill their dream,” he says. “It’s always been more than a job to me.” And you can definitely tell that’s true. We’ve been seeing it from Ryan for 18 years.
Interested in how Ryan could help realize your entrepreneurial dream? Ask him for a free quote today, and experience his integrity and expertise for yourself.