Lilley Blossoms At NJ Transit
Rob Lilley spent seven years learning graphic arts in the army. He uses his military experience to manage New Jersey Transit's in-plant.
Rob Lilley discovered his love of graphic arts in a very unlikely place—the United States Army. Now, as manager of print graphics at New Jersey Transit, he uses his military skills to run an efficient—and growing—in-plant.
Under Lilley's management, the in-plant grew from 5,000 to 25,000 square feet, and went from producing 16 million pieces a year up to 44 million pieces, mostly schedules, forms and stationery.
Lilley, 51, was born in San Antonio Texas. His father was an engineer whose work took him all over the country. The family moved several times, ending up in Mountain Lakes, N.J., where Rob graduated from high school. He went on to La Grange College in Georgia as a fine arts student.
"I always wanted to be an artist," he says.
In 1970, though, after completing his second year, the whole direction of his life changed.
"I was interrupted by this slight little altercation that happened in Southeast Asia—called Vietnam," he drolly recalls. "I knew I was going to be drafted."
He decided to beat the army to the punch and enlisted in the Army Security Agency. After making it through one tour in Vietnam, Lilley was able to put his education to use in the army.
"Because they found out I had an art background, [the army] made me a graphic designer," he explains.
Lilley spent the next eight years traveling the world as an army graphic designer. His travels took him to the war room of the Pentagon, and to Turkey as part of NATO.
After leaving the army in 1977, he spent four years freelancing in Germany—living a mere 20 miles south of Heidelberg. Needless to say, he learned a great deal about printing there.