WHEN THE University of Alabama overpowered the University of Texas last month to win college football's National Championship, Bill May was one of many cheering fans in Tuscaloosa. But for May, UA's director of Printing Services, the victory was made even sweeter because of a wager he had made with another in-plant manager.
Thanks to the Crimson Tide's triumph on the field, Richard Beto, director of document services at rival school UT-Austin, now has to hang a large 'Bama poster on his office door for a month, enduring jeers from Longhorn fans all the while.
"He's supposed to send me photographic evidence of him hanging it," laughs May. (IPG can confirm that the poster has been hung. Beto's fate, however, remains unknown.)
After 23 years at UA's in-plant, May is a certified Tide fan, though his roots stretch back to Mississippi. Born into a printing family in Charleston, Miss., May could run a press almost before he could tie his shoes. His father printed The Mississippi Sun newspaper.
"I grew up working in the shop with him," May recalls. "When I was 12 years old...I was responsible for printing the church bulletins on a Heidelberg windmill."
This set him up with the skills that would carry him through life. In 1979 he found himself working full time in the print shop at Mississippi State University while taking business classes. After four years there, and a one-year stint teaching graphic arts at a junior college, May got married and moved to Tuscaloosa.
For three years he worked in the private sector, but that taste of university life he had gotten at MSU made him long to return to higher-ed. So he applied for a print supervisor position at UA and was hired in 1987.
Seven years later, he was promoted to manager, a title that was eventually changed to director. In the ensuing years May has transformed what was a 20-employee, $850,000 operation when he arrived, into a 30-employee, $4.4 million provider of high-quality four-color printing.