I first discovered CompoSecure when I was looking for a second job while pursuing my dental hygiene degree and ESL certification through college credits. I soon discovered that this was not just a job to pay my bills, but a career where I flourished. Little did I know that this would be the company that my husband and I would plant our roots.
I began my career at CompoSecure as a Quality Inspector in 2012. I thrived in this fast-paced, collaborative environment. CompoSecure is a company that rewards hard work and strong teamwork. I rose through the ranks quickly, becoming a Quality Audit Lead, leading training sessions to nearly 100 employees on improving quality and production procedures. CompoSecure empowers employees to learn on the job, develop skills and advance their careers.
My parents raised me to be a hard worker. They instilled in me a drive to never be satisfied with the status quo, so I always look for ways to improve the processes and practices, delivering better results. Through my training in Six Sigma, I became an expert in quality and efficiency measures, and now I am writing the technical instructions to ensure we produce the highest quality products.
Silver Lining of COVID
The pandemic obviously changed our production procedures and company safety policies, but we adapted, evolved and succeeded in pivoting our business. CompoSecure’s leadership moved quickly to ensure non-production employees could work remotely, investing in the resources and technology to create an optimal work-from-home environment. The company has also gone to great lengths to protect employees who need to be at the facility with additional PPE, plexiglass partitions and contact tracing technology.
Working remotely has been a blessing to my family. Because I work from home a few days a week, I’m able to pick up my son from school. The flexible work environment allowed me to convert my commute time into productive work time. I still go into the office a couple of days a week, so I’m able to stay connected with my co-workers, maintain friendships and build camaraderie with the team.
More Than a Job
Coming from Colombia, I knew little English, had no job skills and limited career opportunities. Industry veterans at CompoSecure, such as Dan Dundon, Senior VP of Operations, mentored me to hone my skills and help me advance in my career.
I came to this company just looking for a paycheck, but CompoSecure has given me so much more. CompoSecure has given me a rewarding career and has become my community and extended family. My husband and I found personal and professional fulfillment when we joined the cycling team, traveling all around New Jersey before the pandemic. We, and many of our colleagues, pay our good fortune forward by serving the community through CompoSecure’s relationships with nonprofits, such as the Arc of Somerset, where I volunteered.
I plan on retiring from CompoSecure after a long and successful career!
COVID has impacted every sector of business, but nowhere is it more apparent at CompoSecure than in the design and graphics area. Before COVID, CompoSecure would host multiple, day-long design sessions with as many as a dozen executives from around the world, the objective being to create the metal credit card that will stand out above the rest. This collaborative approach condensed the design and production cycle from months to weeks. Traditional financial institutions to emerging fintech innovators would bring their ideas to life within the walls of this creative design space at CompoSecure.
Taking the Creative Experience Online
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Tommy Maguire, Graphics/Pre-Press Manager at CompoSecure, revolutionized the creative process. With more than 30 years of card design experience, Tommy leads a graphic team that works closely with the project managers and their customers to convert ideas into an iconic metal manifestation of a brand – and nearly all of it is done virtually now.
With team members working remotely and clients often an ocean away, Tommy and the team have worked hard to find new ways to communicate with customers, collaborating on designs virtually through video calls and shipping samples so that customers can experience the tactile appeal of metal cards. The CompoSecure IT department quickly equipped the design team with everything they need to work remotely and feel safe on the job. The new design approach has brought unexpected benefits – the team has adopted meticulous consideration around the implementation of each prototype to avoid delays in the production and moved closer to the high-tech design process.
The CompoSecure Difference
Tommy spent the bulk of his career at a plastic card manufacturer before joining CompoSecure, where he could fully unleash his creativity. “Coming from the plastic card world, I’ve found working at CompoSecure exciting because no one knows how to do what we do,” Tommy stated. “It has been non-stop excitement ever since! People just like the look and feel of their CompoSecure card. It has been a dream come true.”
The level of creativity that goes into today’s metal card designs has not slowed down. If anything, the graphics team continues to ratchet up the ideas in development. “The sky is the limit with design, but we still need to ensure our ideas align with the brand image of our customers and meet the requirements of the credit card industry associations,” says Tommy. “Finding the right balance of high style and functionality is the foundation of CompoSecure.”
Creating an Infamous “Rose Gold”
Tommy and the graphics team have designed and developed hundreds of cards during his tenure at CompoSecure and every card is special and unique to each customer. However, one of his favorite projects was creating the card color that set the metal card market ablaze and spurred a surge in metal card adoption. As a self-professed workaholic, Tommy is passionate about designing compelling cards, knowing that every time the consumer experiences the look and feel of their card, they will feel more confident and loyal to their financial institution.
The world has changed and the business of creativity has evolved with it. “We have learned a lot during COVID, some of which may not even be clear to us as of today,” added Tommy. “The pandemic has bonded us all because we will get through this together. We are more empathetic to our co-workers, we are listening more to customer requests and we are being mindful about how we are communicating and sharing this journey — together.”
CompoSecure has had to reimagine many of its processes and procedures to keep its employees safe, while keeping up with production goals and schedules during the pandemic. Project Managers are on the front line of customer care and are navigating this new normal. Meet Jennifer Ogrodnik, one of the Project Managers at CompoSecure.
It Starts Here
At CompoSecure, Project Managers (PMs) play a crucial role. They are the “interpreters” within the company, taking in the customers’ goals and aspirations for a metal card program then working with the design and production teams to determine timelines for samples and final product that work for everyone. Jennifer will tell you that for her and the other PMs, being the conduit between customer and the company is a role that requires trust. First, the customer puts their trust in CompoSecure and the PM to walk them through the design process and, ultimately, to deliver as expected and on time. But second, and equally important, is building trust between the PMs and the rest of the CompoSecure organization.
Awareness of metal payment cards has grown dramatically over the past ten years. Once only available to the super-elite cardholders, card issuers are now using metal cards to attract a broader audience who prefer metal cards as a personal differentiator. Card issuers see metal cards as a way to acquire new customers and increase customer loyalty. All of these factors are driving card issuer demand.
As an important connection to Sales, the PM team is responsible for understanding and getting to the core of customer needs and managing timelines. With new health and safety processes that have been put in place as a result of COVID, the role of the PM is even more critical. Setting realistic expectations to the customer, balancing and readjusting as priorities change, while providing world class service.
Getting Creative with the Creative Process
How do you establish trust in a new business relationship? Before March of this year, Jennifer would have told you about the face-to-face personal relationship she built with a new customer. She – and many other members of the CompoSecure team – flew thousands of miles, crossing state lines and time zones to get to know the customers and communicate CompoSecure’s understanding of their business goals. That in-person interaction was foundational to building trust.
Similarly, the design sessions between clients and PMs were also largely done in-person, where the look and feel of metal payment cards could best be shared. With the onset of COVID, CompoSecure had to get creative in how to continue the world class service they are known for. Virtual design sessions and other levels of prototype creation were developed to provide similar hands-on experiences clients had being onsite; a key step that customers need to make the buy decision.
It is always hard to adapt to new processes. Jennifer and the whole team are keenly aware of the pressures felt by the design and production teams and create ways to alleviate it. Advanced planning is one way that they are accomplishing this. The teams come together much earlier in the process to discuss plans, pool information and collaborate. Jennifer believes that the challenges brought on by the pandemic have actually boosted creativity, especially on the planning process.
Another unexpected benefit came from CompoSecure’s focus on employee wellness. Before COVID, employees would socialize during the workday with activities like daily lunch time walks, meeting out at the picnic tables for lunch or break, holiday/celebration parties. They had to find other ways to connect. “We have cross-functional Zoom meetings as a way to check in with one another and reinforce connection during a time when everyone is apart,” said Jennifer. These bonds provide opportunities to recognize co-workers’ struggles and achievements. “When you have a feeling of accomplishment, everyone shares that with you.”
Strength from Within Strengthens Throughout
Jennifer has taken this collaboration from the office to her community in Somerset. Late one evening, she created a chalk tapestry in the courtyard of her living complex, leaving voids where others can color in the gaps, and left a box of chalk encouraging others to come together and create art. When she woke the next morning, she was overwhelmed at how people were touched by this simple act in the midst of the pandemic. It lifted the spirits of her neighbors and brought them together, when they were all feeling so isolated. Jennifer understands the importance of building connections – whether that is with her neighbors, local businesses she supports or her co-workers and clients.
Just as CompoSecure has continued to grow and thrive despite the challenges, Jennifer is certain the strong co-operation between its employees and customers will endure after the pandemic, “We got stronger during COVID, and we’ll keep that spirit alive after.”