Spotlight: Allison Toles

 In Student SpotLight

Allison Toles – WOF Spotlight

  • Did you plan on a career in flexography?
    I would say yes and no.At 4 years old, in my pink Barbie Jeep, I started making deliveries from department to department.  Fine Line Graphics’ flagship office was the perfect place to start my career in mail delivery!At the time I didn’t know what business my father had created, but I knew I wanted to be in the family business. I graduated from the “mail room” to learn the business from every angle.  I mastered platemaking, manufacturing, quality assurance, customer relations, sales, marketing, and accounting.  I received my Industry Education in Flexography.

    • Briefly describe your career path in flexography.

    Fine Line Graphics Inc. was founded in 1991 by my father, Jim Toles.  In my teens, he guided me towards the best path for success for a career in Flexo: learning the industry hands-on.  During my career, my education was filled with every aspect of our Family Business. From Flexo 101, the fundamentals of business, finances, and how to build effective relationships with our vendors and customers.

    11 years ago, the opportunity arose to expand the company and its offerings across the country.  I moved to the Kansas City area to start the Midwest Branch of Fine Line Graphics Inc. with a plan to move back to Rhode Island in 3 months, I never looked back.

    Today I serve as the Vice President of the same company my father started over 30 years ago, the greatest honor a daughter could dream of.

    • Who was the most influential mentor in your career path so far?

     I have been lucky enough to have many mentors and influential leaders guide me throughout my career.  Over the last 20 years by father has given me the teachings, guidance, and life skills to be successful in my career in this industry as well as in my everyday personal life.

    Watching my dad take his vision and build a successful company makes be proud to be the second generation of his business. At the end of the day, we’re a family business.  We celebrate the successes, navigate challenges together, but most importantly motivate each other to continue our family legacy for years to come.

    • Have you ever experienced obstacles you believe are unique to being a female in this industry?

    There are more than a few obstacles when you chose a career path in an industry heavily dominated by men.  I had to start looking and presenting myself as an equal.  An equal to anyone else trying to get the next contract or the next promotion.  When you walk into a meeting, a new customer, or any professional setting, set a higher precedent.

    Now more than ever, Women in this industry are less looked at as the traditional “Skirt” and are taking on roles in Management and Executive Leadership.  Have the confidence that what you have to offer your customers, vendors and other working partners is the best in the industry.  Show them that being a Woman, in a historically Male dominated industry doesn’t define you, it makes you unique.

    • What do you wish young professionals knew right now?

    Hold yourself to the highest accountability.  Be the first one in, the last one out.  Most employers are looking for character.  Don’t let the fact that you don’t have a pedigree in the highest education set you back from your goals.  If you have the enthusiasm, the grit, and the determination to get where you want to be, you will find the right company or industry that fits you best.

    Find an industry you can be proud to be a part of.  There is nothing more satisfying than coming home every day knowing that you gave 110% to all your projects, tasks, and objectives.

    Flexo Printing is a trade industry, absorb all the information you can from your mentors, peers, and other working relationships.  Some of the top industry leaders have worked in Flexo all their lives.  They have more knowledge than you could ever obtain from a book or a classroom setting.

    • What book/podcast are you currently reading/listening to?

    I am a big promoter of “self-motivation” books and podcasts.  I always have one queued up on my Audio books or on the shelf to read when I need a reminder to push forward, adapt and overcome.

    Don’t get me wrong, everyone enjoys the comical podcasts about working moms, real housewives etc. Sometimes it’s good to take a moment and laugh, smile, and realize other working Moms and Women are in the trenches with you.

    • What industry groups or associations do you find most helpful and why?           

    This is my first year as part of the Women of Flexo Organization.  In the short time that I have participated in the group my, networking circle has grown exponentially.  We all have something in common.  We are working Women in the Flexo Industry!

    The Women in this Organization share in everyone’s accomplishments, celebrate the wins, and are a sounding board for good advice.

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