Ridgeland — When he graduated from the University of Mississippi, Doug Hederman could have gone into the family printing business. The Hederman family is well known in business and philanthropy in Mississippi and has been around Jackson a long time.
Instead of sliding into a position at Hederman Brothers Printing, Doug Hederman took his business degree and headed off to Little Rock, Ark., where he worked for a large marketing, advertising and public relations firm. After an enriching experience out of state, he came home eight years ago and served as executive vice president and director of sales. Recently, he was named president of Hederman Brothers Printing, the fourth- generation Hederman to lead the business, and is responsible for business development and sales management.
“Going to work in Little Rock right out of Ole Miss was very beneficial to me,” he says. “I learned to live on my own, and it allowed me to develop my own personality. I established my own identity. No one knew me or my family and there was no one to call on for help. At times I felt lonely and challenged, but it built character and independence. It was a great experience for what I’m doing today.”
Hederman, 35, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with emphases in accounting and marketing. A chance meeting with a Little Rock executive on the Ole Miss campus led to his Arkansas employment. He worked in client public relations, as an account executive and on branding campaigns for a telecommunications client, working his way up to vice president of public policy.
“I discussed going to Little Rock with my dad,” he said. “Even though I might have been qualified, it was best that I didn’t walk straight out of college into Hederman Brothers Printing.”
A self-described “people person,” Hederman relished meeting and working with talented young people in Little Rock. He saw different ways of doing things and feels he gained a better understanding of people.
He feels so strongly about establishing independence that he encourages his sister, who’s 13 years younger, to strike out on her own. “I tell her to come back home but to try living and working somewhere else,” he said. “I encourage her to see different ways of doing things and different ways of operating.”
Hederman is thankful for the positive mentors he’s had in his life, beginning with his parents, Hap and Sally Hederman. He loves each for their strengths and says he absorbed their best qualities.
He started working in the family business while still in junior high school, and even at that early age felt the urge to get out on his own. “I went to work for Billy Neville at the Rogue, and he helped me develop confidence and how to think on my feet,” he said. “He also taught me to listen to customers. I’ve been fortunate to work for smart, talented people.”
Another local mentor was Jackson dentist Mike Trammel, who was involved with Young Life as a spiritual leader during Hederman’s high school days. “Young Life is a Christian non-denominational organization and it meant a lot to me,” he said. “I could call on Mike Trammel at any time with problems.”
Skip Rutherford of Little Rock has been a great mentor and friend to Hederman, too. The two worked together on matters of public policy and public relations at the firm of Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods. When Rutherford was responsible for putting on a re-election party for President Bill Clinton, Hederman felt lucky to be chosen to work with him.
“It was a great experience to work with the Secret Service and city and state officials, and to go on board Air Force One and visit with the president and first lady,” he says. “I had an opportunity that I will treasure all my life.”
Later, when Rutherford helped develop the museum side of the Clinton Presidential Library, Hederman toured presidential libraries with him and was involved in that project, too. Noting that his politics might not always agree with Rutherford’s, he says they counter balanced each other.
“Skip is one of my most admired people. He taught me how to treat people and a different work ethic,” Hederman said. “He knows how to treat customers and after those experiences with him, I feel I can advise our customers here better.”
Rutherford is now dean of the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas. He has high praise for Doug Hederman. “He’s one of the brightest and most decent young leaders I have ever known,” he said. “He has an unlimited future and Jackson is fortunate to have him. We did everything in our power to keep him in Little Rock, but home prevailed.”
He predicts that Hederman will make a significant impact in Mississippi because of his interest in the state’s future.
“My sense is that by the time he’s 45, Doug will make a big difference,” he added. “He has excellent communication skills, a great sense of humor and is a hard worker. I have the highest respect for him professionally and personally. Hap and Sally Hederman did an outstanding job.”
As for his leadership at Hederman Brothers Printing, the new president says, “My charge and challenge is to take this company to a level where we will differentiate ourselves. We’ll get more involved in direct mail and digital printing. We will continue to invest in people and technologies that will help us provide quality products.”
The company has longevity among its 85 employees with an average of 15 years on the production side and 23 years on the sales side. Hederman says he looks up to these employees and is learning from them. “I’m surrounded by truly good people and we’re fortunate to have great employees,” he said.
He has respect for the generations of Hedermans who came before him, noting that most family businesses don’t make it to the fourth generation. A few years ago, the business was sold to a large conglomerate that was publicly traded and remained that way for three years. The family was able to buy back the business, something for which Hederman is grateful.
‘In the trenches’
Doug Hederman says his management style is very hands on. “I truly believe in getting in the trenches and working with employees,” he said. “I’m not the kind who wants to sit at a desk and delegate. There’s a time for that but I want to work closely with employees.”
Along with his business responsibilities, Hederman wants to be involved in the community. “My family always has been and that’s a tremendous challenge for me,” he said. “Whatever I can do to help the community be better is what I want to do.”
In that spirit of giving back, he now serves on the board of directors of Young Life, the organization that helped him as a teenager. He also considers the Hederman Cancer Center at Baptist Medical Center an important area of helping the community. Additionally, he serves on the boards of the MetroJackson Chamber of Commerce, Mississippi Baptist Health Systems, the Powers & Lake Foundation and the Ole Miss Alumni Association.
On the personal side, Hederman enjoys spending time with his wife, Blair, and their son and daughter, Holt and Sara, and being involved in outside activities.
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.