Retired from labels to pursue passions

By 20 Mar 2017

Most successful people in life have yearnings of pursuing their passions that are completely unconnected to their successful careers. Silently they nurture the hope and wish, that one day they can retire and indulge in what they wish to do in time which becomes their own.

Harveer Sahni, managing director, Weldon

I have always wanted to pursue my passion for cooking and writing, I have been fortunate that now my sons are taking up the bulk of the business responsibilities I have more time on my hand and so can write.

This blog is a result of pursuing my heart’s desire to write and express myself and then spending time in kitchen gives me the satisfaction of creating new dishes. In my younger days I used to spend hours in laboratory creating diverse products like inks, adhesive, cosmetics, label and coated products. I find a striking similarity between a laboratory and a kitchen with the kitchen slab and the spices lined up like chemicals in the laboratory making your imagination run wildly towards creativity.

In my time spent in the label industry I have come across some amazing personalities who even in retirement continue to excel and deliver value to the society and also draw pleasure. They are inspirational and watching them makes you realise that life does not end at retirement but starts all over in a more pleasurable direction if you pursue your passions.

Helmut Schreiner retired as chairman of Germany’s leading label company Schreiner Group a couple of years ago handing over the reign of the group to his son Ronald Schreiner.

Having more time on his hands, Helmut founded a new company – Schreiner Innovation. His business now is to partnerships with other companies as well as dealings in real estate.

He also devotes a substantial part of his time to social activities and charities. His philosophy for his company and his people has been clear and value oriented. The values were innovation, quality, performance and joy! This clear positioning was always the bases for his personal happiness and business success.

More surprisingly, Helmut pursued yet another passion of his life and that is poetry. I found it an extremely pleasurable expression of time being spent in retirement.

This January he sent to me a beautiful new year’s greeting card along with an amazing book titled, “Reflections, Recognition Rhyme” a compilation of his poetry that is deliverance of his passionate expression! He continues with his social works towards community service and draw pleasure in finding a wonder outlet for his emotions through poetry.

I have shared some of his poems on http://harveersahni.blogspot.in/2014/07/helmut-schreiner-from-labels-to-poetry.html

Sandeep Lal: Lal’s parents migrated to Toronto, Canada from Allahabad in 1972. Lal and his youngest sibling Raideep set up a very successful Metro label.

When success was in there in full measure, in 2003 Raideep left Metro Label to seek his own dream and relocated to Boquete, Panama. Boquete is 1000 metres above sea level in the mountains near Costa Rica and about 75km from the Pacific Ocean. Raideep acquired a large parcel of land to build a golf course with a residential development around it.

Lal and Metro Label subsequently invested in this development. Raideep’s sudden demise in 2010 left the leadership of the golf course in Sandeep’s hands.

Over the course of time, Sandeep’s children chose to purse interest outside of his business.

Sandeep realised that he no longer had the passion for business that he had worked in for most of his life and it was best to find an ownership that had the required energy and a new focus. In July 2015 Sandeep sold Metro Label’s assets to Tapp Label. Tapp was approximately half the size of Metro Label, but had deep pockets and were a financially sound private investor.

So what does one do after retiring from 43 years of hard work in a very successful label business? Enjoy life a little more, have more time for family, grand children and maybe even travel. Sometimes all of those!

However Sandeep accepted the challenge of managing and growing Lucero Homes and Lucero Golf and Country Club (www.Lucero.com.pa) in the country of Panama. He commutes between Toronto where he lives and Boquete, Panama. His work included completing the last 9 holes of the Golf Course, revising the development Master plan to add more density and planting almost 400,000 coffee plants on their land to become the third largest Coffee grower in Panama. Lucero Golf and Country Club was recently ranked the Best Golf Course in Panama. He is contemplating building a luxury hotel and Spa which will be supported by fruits and vegetable from their land. He talks about how different life is.

He is running a development which includes “Seasons” a 110 cover restaurant, hotel rooms, home and condominium apartment construction, coffee plants and fruits trees a large nursery to grow vegetable and flowering plants for the development, along with the golf course and tennis courts.

Kurt Walker, past president of FINAT, after graduating from university, entered the printing industry where he held various positions in sales and marketing.

In 1988 he joined the label industry. He continued to be in the industry until his retirement in 2012, as chief executive officer (CEO) of Tesa Bandfix in Switzerland. He became a member of the FINAT board in 1999 and also served as vice-president of membership committee and treasurer.

FINAT is the worldwide association for the self-adhesive labeling industry. Kurt became the President of FINAT in 2011.

Now retired, Kurt expresses himself as: “After 25 years as the CEO of Tesa-Bandfix in Switzerland I retired in 2012. My expectations of retirement were quite different from the reality. I and my wife have become extensive travellers and spend somewhat like 50% of our time away from home. During the cold winter period we usually stay in the south of Africa, which has virtually become our second home. I am still involved in FINAT as president emeritus in the executive board and the organizing committee for the annual European Label Forum. This keeps me in the label family, from which I benefited so much in my life. In my free time I play tennis and golf with friends and visit art exhibitions and music events. Keeping in touch with all the friends in the whole world will be one of my challenges for the future and I hope to maintain all these wonderful contacts.”

Honey Vazirani: A wonderful person, I met Honey the first time in 1989 while she was working at Paper Products (now Huhtamaki-PPL), Thane (Mumbai). That was the beginning of this girl’s journey into the world of labels.

From being a management trainee in 1989, she rose to be the head of the labelling division of the company that specialises in flexible packaging.

Vazirani‘s has been a decorative, colourful journey. Since then, she had been at the forefront of PPL’s foray into the production of labels which began in 1991. Her job involved client servicing, marketing, product development and leading the labels team at PPL. She handled customers who are the who’s who of the FMCG sector. This included key customers like Unilever and Dabur and bringing to them the most premium and modern labelling technologies. In the words of Torsten Jung Lenz, who in those days worked for Jacstadt Germany, “Honey Vazirani is married to labels!”

Having spent over 20 years in the industry, she took a sabbatical in 2009. She spent a whole year rejuvenating herself by travelling, reading, spending time with friends and relatives and enjoying good food.

Yes, she is a self confessed foodie! This is something she and I have in common, love for labels and indulgence in food.

In 2010 she returned to Huhtamaki-PPL to head the company’s HR department. A couple of years later she again quit the job to pursue her passions. She says, “I had an exciting 20 years with PPL, nurturing the labelling business and being nurtured for leadership roles within the group. When I finally decided to venture out of PPL, it was to find something even more meaningful and fulfilling in a more basic sense. I hope to get back to something that I would feel wonderful doing; it could well be something totally different like running a small dhaba (roadside food shack) in the Himalayas or it could be back to Labelling again!

“While I've been exploring these possibilities, I've had fun helping a friend's analytics and reporting business on strategy, worked on social causes like Education and Health, caught up on books, poetry, music, yoga and picking up a backpack and setting off on a trip. What this break has taught me is that it is great to work hard, create great products but amidst all this, it is equally important to step back every once in a while and do things that warm your heart and nourish your soul!”

Suzzane Zaccone based in Illinois USA. She is a cancer survivor two times over! In 1985 she and her brother Bob Zaccone, founded GSI Technologies to produce prime labels, anti-counterfeit labels and polycarbonate overlays.

GSI is now recognized as a world leader in emerging technology, producing advanced functional printed products including strips to measure glucose for diabetics, electroluminescent lamps, smart card displays, sensors and automotive circuits. She served as TLMI’s first female chairman/president from 1998 to 2000.

Suzanne has been president of the board of directors to the DiTrolio Flexographic Institute since 2000. After beating breast cancer in 2009 she published her book in the year 2010, “A Random Interruption: Surviving Breast Cancer with Laughter, Vodka, Smoothies and an Attitude” She is the first female recipient of R Stanton Avery Lifetime Achievement Award which was conferred to her in 2014 as a part of label industry global awards.

In her response to me on her retirement, she says, “Retirement, for me has been quite busy. Some time is spent volunteering at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, sitting on three boards, reading as much as possible, relaxing at our lake house which is next door to Bob's lake house and catching up with friends and family. I also was visited by breast cancer, twice, a combined total of five years, and the first bout resulted in a book; A Random Interruption Surviving Breast Cancer with Laughter, Vodka, Smoothies and an Attitude. One hundred percent of all sales benefit The University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation where we sponsor a fellow for one year of schooling in that facility. After the book was published I found myself speaking to women and their families as they navigate through the process back to health. It has been extremely rewarding and in some cases terribly sad. Last year our family foundation opened up a cancer centre in the name of my surgeon and a holistic centre in the name of our family. The universe presents all of us with complete surprises and awesome possibilities and the wheel is always turning even if we wish it to remain still.
Each day for me is different - much like when we ran our business. So I get out of bed and work very hard to engage with that day’s plot line. I make an effort to eat healthy, balance my emotions through meditation or maybe for me it is better called daydreaming, I quit smoking cigarettes, continue to attend endless meetings at hospital boards, a nap sometimes finds its way into a day here and there and 5:00 cocktails! I make sure to add a few goals that add meaning to my life and activities that provide pleasure. In this way, I affirm life and pray that my body gets the message. I want to surprise myself by not only surviving, but discovering new ways to enjoy the fact that I did survive. I've yet to find the joy of exercise but I am working on that. I continue to bite off more than I can chew, and I still chew it! And finally, I miss all of you in label land.”

An interesting line in her signature in her emails reads “I spent the first 50 years of my life seeking success and I will now spend the next 50 years seeking significance. - Suzanne Zaccone”

Three of the persons covered by me in this article are recipients of the R Stanton Life Time Achievement Award. It is interesting that instead of becoming recluse in retirement all of those covered by me are vibrant and active. They continue to give back to the society while still making life more significant for them self. They draw satisfaction in their work in retirement and set example for others to enjoy life in pursuing their passions!

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