Dave Carmany sitting at a table with a printer and products with labels from his company, OnlineLabels.com.

Prepared for opportunity

Warrington alumnus and entrepreneur Dave Carmany highlights the importance of goal setting and education in order to be ready when opportunity knocks.

Dave Carmany’s business studies started long before he came to the University of Florida. The Central Florida-native watched his father build the family custom label printing business, Consolidated Label, from the ground up and had even worked there in his high school years.

While Carmany (BSBA ’97) envisioned eventually returning to the family business after gaining a few years of outside experience, the internet revolution quickly changed his plans, many would say, for the better.

“In 1995, the internet hit, and I realized that it would be a big opportunity for our family’s company,” he said. “From there, I started helping my dad build a digital strategy for the company, and in 1998, we launched OnlineLabels.com. We were very early players in that space.”

More than 20 years later, the now multi-million-dollar business is one of the leading suppliers of blank and custom labels available online.

While excellent timing certainly played a role in the success of OnlineLabels.com, it is also due to Carmany’s strategic vision. Carmany believes the main keys to success for the business have been its focus on the customer experience, controlled growth, adaptability to the marketplace, and most importantly, a strong company culture.

“From early on, we focused on building a great team,” he said. “At the end of the day, the people make it possible.”

Carmany personally credits a dedication to life-long learning as a behind-the-scenes key to not only the success of his business but also as an important lesson for entrepreneurs everywhere.

“I think what personally drove me [to build a successful business] was that I’m always trying to be better every single day,” he said. “Whether it’s from reading books or listening to podcasts, learning and constant improvement is key.”

While access to today’s learning resources, like YouTube videos and podcasts, weren’t available to Carmany when he was in college, he encourages students interested in starting their own businesses to seek out these tools in order to build up their knowledge base.  

“There are so many low-cost resources out there now, and you can become an expert in pretty much any topic,” he said.

In addition to life-long learning, Carmany cites the importance of setting goals in order to bring about success.

“I tell my kids to figure out a path, figure out what they want, and then to start talking to people to see how you can get down that path,” he said. “If you set goals, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish.”

For Carmany, being prepared with one’s goals and having the educational know-how to make your ideas happen are paramount to bringing an idea to life once you see opportunity ahead.

“I was lucky that I got going in the direction that I wanted to go pretty early, having started a business immediately after college and staying on that path,” he said. “The advantage was that I set goals early and I had some background knowledge in the area I was interested in pursuing, so when the opportunity came, I was able to jump on it.”