Mike Lincoln Passes Away
Former Colorado State Printer Mike Lincoln passed away unexpectedly at his Denver-area home on Saturday. A stalwart supporter of in-plants who freely gave advice to his peers, he suffered an apparent heart attack at the age of 58.
“It’s so sad to hear of Mike Lincoln’s passing this past weekend,” says Mike Loyd, executive director of the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA). “Over the years, Mike has been a great supporter of IPMA and his colleagues and peers in the in-plant industry. He was always willing to help others, participate in conference programs, and host various associated events. He was an innovative leader and trailblazer, implementing many state-of-the-art technologies, solutions, and equipment offerings.
“But, even with all of the extraordinary achievements at the workplace, Mike was a much better friend: kind, willing to listen and help others as he could. The industry has lost a strong leader and professional who was at the pinnacle of his craft.” (Read Mike Lincoln's obituary here.)
A quiet man whose voice was nonetheless heard around the entire printing industry, Mr. Lincoln directed Colorado’s Integrated Document Solutions (IDS) operation for 20 years before leaving in Oct. 2023 to become vice president of fulfillment service for Mortgage Connect, in Denver. In 2008, he introduced himself to the in-plant industry when he joined the National Government Publishing Association (NGPA) and began sharing his knowledge with peers. He hosted NGPA's 2012 conference in Denver, and was instrumental in merging that association with IPMA in 2014. He was subsequently elected IPMA president.
“Mike was on the IPMA international board of directors for more than 13 years, including serving as international president during some tumultuous times for IPMA,” says Loyd, noting that membership and event attendance were on the decline. “Mike, along with his fellow board members, had to pivot and downsize to secure the viability of IPMA in the future. He set the groundwork to allow IPMA, not only to survive, but thrive.”
Under Mr. Lincoln’s leadership, his in-plant was named IPMA’s Mail Center of the Year four times and was honored with an In-plant Innovator Award in 2017 by In-plant Impressions. The in-plant won numerous In-Print awards for quality printing over the years, and Mr. Lincoln was named Manager of the Year in 2007 and 2008 by the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration.
Mr. Lincoln’s knowledge and advice were greatly valued by his peers, and he willingly shared it whenever asked. He spoke at conferences, did numerous video interviews, and was featured in dozens of In-plant Impressions articles. In 2015, he readily agreed to speak at the inaugural Digital Printing in Government & Higher-ed Conference that IPI was presenting in Washington, D.C. He supported the magazine again several times as a panelist during the Inkjet Summit. Despite his busy schedule, he quite literally never turned down a request to do a story or video interview, knowing his contributions would help his peers.
A lover of classic cars who always had an automobile restoration project underway, Mr. Lincoln entered the in-plant world as a high school freshman when he took a summer job at Cherry Creek School District’s in-plant. He started in the bindery and felt an instant connection.
“I’ve always been mechanical,” Mr. Lincoln told IPI in a 2019 profile of his career. The printing and binding process, “was fascinating to me, and it just is something that stuck.”
That job blossomed into full-time employment after he graduated high school in 1983. He became bindery manager, but also ran presses, worked in the dark room, and handled customer service. In 1994 he took a production manager position at Richtman Printing, and six months later, he moved to a sales job at Signal Graphics. He tried other things as well – selling cars and industrial magnets, and working for a telecom company – but printing pulled him back.
In July of 2003, Mr. Lincoln started as customer service representative for Colorado’s Integrated Document Factory and seven months later was put in charge of the print and design center. In the years to come he entirely transformed the operation, upgrading its antiquated technology, cross-training employees, removing silos, and changing the in-plant’s culture. The in-plant took over the state’s mainframe printing and moved into transactional printing. This led to the shop installing one of the first production inkjet presses at an in-plant. His leadership in inkjet inspired most other state government in-plants to follow suit, with nearly every other state printer consulting Mr. Lincoln before making this move.
“I always valued Mike’s opinion,” reflects Tammy Golden, assistant commissioner of Document Solutions for the State of Tennessee. “Anytime I was considering a major change in equipment, software, or staffing, Mike was my go-to. He always had great insight and perspective and genuinely wanted to help. When we were first considering inkjet, Mike was my first call. Mike reassured me that it was the right move, and he backed it up with data from his own shop. As always, he was right.
“Mike was a leader in government printing. He was always ready to help anyone who needed it,” she continues. “He had a passion for the in-plant industry, and he led others with that passion. You could hear the pride in his voice whenever he talked about his staff and his family. He was so proud of them all. I will miss my friend and mentor greatly.”
Mike attended last year’s Inkjet Summit in Austin, Texas. After the conference, he and I visited the University of Texas’ in-plant, then went to lunch with Director Richard Beto. We sat at an outside table at a Mexican restaurant, talking about life and our families. I mentioned a car-related situation in my family, knowing Mike’s avid interest in cars, and he gave me some advice, which I took to heart. Though I saw him one more time at the IPMA conference in June, when I think back on our time together, I prefer to recall Mike at that lunch, sitting there in the shade on a pleasant April day, back in the state where he was born, relaxed and enjoying a nice lunch with friends.
When I asked him in a 2019 interview if he made the right choice by becoming an in-plant manager, he quickly said, “best choice I ever made. I would not do anything different.”
Mike Lincoln leaves behind his wife Lori, two adult children, and an entire industry of printers who grew to respect and love him. His wisdom and friendship will be missed by all of us.
Related story: Mike Lincoln: The Pull of Printing
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 more than 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, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.