GETTING PERSONAL: …with Tracy Carpentier

Tracy Carpentier is vice president/general manager of industrial signage catalog Seton Name Plate, based in Branford, CT.

Q: What was your career path from college to Seton?

A: I’ve been with Seton Name Plate since September ’99, but I’ve been with the W.H. Brady Corp. [Seton’s parent company] for 15 years. I was hired as a college recruit – an outside sales trainee – after graduating from Indiana University in 1985. I have a business degree in marketing from IU and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin. It took years to complete my MBA; I went to night school, traveled, and had two children while working toward it.

Q: Who makes up your family?

A: I have three children: Kelly, age seven; Megan, age five; and Andrew, who’s 2-1/2. And Dusty the wonder dog, who was really the original child. He’s mostly Lab and 13-1/2 – almost 100 in human years. My husband, Tom, just retired, so he’s a stay-at-home-dad. It’s something we’d thought about since moving to Connecticut in ’99. We’ve been really happy with it – having him at home taking care of things during the week makes the weekends so much more fun.

Q: What are your outside interests?

A: I love to read, and I love spending time with my kids. I also love to travel. My favorite city is probably Venice, with Salzburg running a close second. I also spent two years in Toronto – it’s unquestionably North America’s best-kept secret. And I went to high school in Copenhagen, which has always been one of my favorite places.

Q: What’s your fantasy job? (Other than VP/GM of Seton, of course.)

A: My dream job would be traveling around the world as an importer of interesting local crafts. I remember touring China with my husband – in Xiliang we saw this needlepoint factory where hundreds of people were sewing silk tapestries. They were beautiful. I’d like to search the world looking for things like that.

Q: What would you call the biggest challenge in cataloging?

A: The hardest thing to tackle is developing the kind of program that really makes your customers come back again and again, rather than just sending them catalogs.

Q: How can the industry attract more people like you?

A: I think e-commerce is going to make the industry more exciting to young, talented people. I think direct marketing had the stigma of being mathematical or statistical, and e-commerce introduces more creative and more truly one-to-one marketing opportunities – chances to really know the customer.

Q: What are your most and least favorite books?

A: I’ve read so many books, but I can’t think of a least favorite. One of the best I’ve read was Women Like Us, by Erica Abeel, about what happened to four women of the Sarah Lawrence class of 1958. It’s an interesting view of women in business. More recently, The Leadership Engine, by Noel Tichy, is also well done.

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