From the Editor: 21 Years at IPG
For many of us, waiting until we turned 21 so we could finally, legally walk into a bar and get served seemed to take forever. So it’s rather sobering to realize that’s how long I’ve now been editor of In-plant Graphics. My very first issue came out in November 1994, with Mayo Foundation’s in-plant on the cover. That’s 253 issues I’ve edited to date, and nearly that many editor’s columns I’ve written, along with probably 1,000 articles. It gives me a lot to think about.
I reflected on my career covering the in-plant industry in a talk last month for the Southeastern University Printing and Digital Managers Conference (SUPDMC). A lot has changed since I started at IPG, after spending three years writing about commercial printers for Printing Impressions.
Back then I had no problem ringing up any in-plant manager I wanted to write about and doing a story. Everyone was happy to have their shop highlighted in the magazine. These days it’s not so easy. Managers often need approval from communications departments, who frequently don’t know much about their own in-plants and are sometimes downright suspicious of my request. Many have turned me down flat, afraid to reveal to the world that their company has an in-plant.
This is such a shame, since those hardworking employees deserve a little credit for their behind-the-scenes support and dedication. Plus, the morale boost of appearing in a national magazine can only improve their performance. Suffice it to say, there are many more in-plants out there than you’ll read about in the pages of IPG.
The cast of characters in the in-plant industry has changed a lot since I started at the magazine too. Many of my old manager friends have retired. While numerous in-plants from my early days are still going strong, others have shrunk, closed or gotten very quiet under new management.
What hasn’t changed is the fear of having your in-plant closed, which has been with us since long before my time. But while some feel the rate of closures is on the rise, in my opinion, it does not seem to have changed much since 1994. Still, a big part of my job all these years has been bringing you tips and ideas on how to avoid this fate, and how to make your operation too valuable to be outsourced. (I don’t know how successful I’ve been, but I did have one manager tell me recently that our cover story on her shop helped earn her a raise!)
As I told the managers at SUPDMC, though, the best part of my journey through the in-plant universe these past 21 years has been the chance to meet so many great people. It’s been a privilege to get to know you, whether on the phone for a story interview or in person at conferences. Thanks for letting me be part of your industry all these years.
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.