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Promotion Is The Magic Word

August 2000
Aggressive self-promotion by the Darden Restaurants in-plant earns its supervisor a promotion to Director.

When Warren Lombardy learned that Darden Restaurants had promoted him to director of creative group/printing services, he immediately went to work—planning a party for his staff.

This is a typical move for Lombardy, 39, an in-plant self-promotion wizard who shuns the spotlight when it falls on himself.

"This promotion is a sign of the team," he says. "A good manager is as good as his or her people. I think I've lined myself up with a good team."

That team, he says, has done some great work for Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, which owns and operates the Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze and Smokey Bones chains. Lombardy's 20 employees design and print banners, posters, buttons, menus and more.

An Early Start

Lombardy developed his people skills at an early age. He started out as manager of a car shop at 16.

"That's where I got all my managerial skills," he remembers. "It taught me responsibility. It was a great start."

At that time, he also took a printing class at Columbia High School, in Maplewood, N.J.

"I fell in love with graphic arts and photography, and I was good at it," he says.

Lombardy earned a degree in Industrial Education from Kean College. He taught until 1986 when he became the in-plant manager at Becton-Dickinson, a New Jersey-based medical supply company.

"I didn't even know [in-plants] existed," Lombardy says.

He stayed there until 1992 when he headed to Florida to work for Darden Restaurants as print shop supervisor.

When the manager retired in 1994, Lombardy got the job.

Warren In Charge

"I took it slowly," he says. "I didn't come in and make major changes and blow [the staff] out of the water. That's not fair."

First, he improved morale. He read inspirational excerpts from Chicken Soup for the Soul to his staff. He also had them wear buttons that read "Yes We Can." He even baked their birthday cakes—from scratch.

"I allow them to take ownership and pride in what they do," he reports.

Then he challenges them.

When he started, the in-plant primarily did two-color printing. Once he felt his staff was ready, he asked them to do four-color work on the in-plant's two-color, 20x26˝ Shinohara perfector. He knew there would be mistakes, but eventually his staff got the hang of it.

"We had to [learn to] crawl, walk and run all over again," he recalls.


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