In 1992, I joined a company called Avery Dennison, a chemical company that rivaled 3M but was much smaller and was in the middle of minor restructuring. Avery had senior folks from consumer-driven organizations and management consulting firms like Nestle, Mattel, Pepsi, P&G, Booz Hamilton, and Boston Consulting. America was going through a recession and layoffs were happening. The goal was to transform their office products business units under competing brands into a new digitally savvy office products group. This was happening when the price of laser and ink jet printers ware still above $1000. Japan had the best technologies then. Color ink jet technology from Epson going to drop to $500 within a year. I instigated "design and expression" thinking into the product development cycle, while running a premium priced paper merchant business that was dwindling, beefed our vertical software capabilities, and added a water-based greener adhesive application that was less harmful to the environment. We later struck partnerships with AOL, American Greetings, Disney Interactive, HP, Epson, Mattel Interactive, Microsoft Home and Prodigy. The shift from corporate employment to self-employment was spawning a new breed of "home office" worker during the recession. The combined growth of those categories went from $10 million to $350 million in six years. Then the internet arrived.

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