In the first of our in-plant manager profiles, we talk to Jim Puppe, supervisor of the prize-winning Minnkota Power Cooperative print shop.
In Jim Puppe's mind, the beaches and sunshine of Los Angeles pale against the crisp country air of North Dakota.
So after spending seven years perfecting his press skills in the City of Angels, Puppe and his wife packed up and headed back home.
That was more than 20 years ago, and he hasn't looked back.
Today Jim Puppe is print shop supervisor at Minnkota Power Cooperative, in Grand Forks, right on the Minnesota border. In recent years this small in-plant has made a big name for itself by consistently winning major prizes in the In-Print contest, sponsored by both IPG and the International Publishing Management Association. The shop has won at least one first place award in the last three years that it entered.
What's most amazing is that, with just four full-time employees, this shop is a fraction of the size of the in-plants that it has beaten. Not only that, but the in-plant's vivid four-color annual reports are printed on a two-color MAN Roland press.
Though Puppe, a 21-year veteran of Minnkota Power, credits the press skills of operator Ken Kearney with producing the prize-winning pieces, the fact that the shop prints color in the first place is a testament to Puppe's vision. When he took the helm as supervisor, Puppe began bringing work in-house that had traditionally been sent outside. One such job was the company newsletter. At first he started printing it with two colors, but later he introduced a four-color cover.
"Management really liked that," he recalls.
Eventually the in-plant started printing the newsletters for some of the 12 cooperatives to which Minnkota Power sells power. Today it prints newsletters for nine of the 12 cooperatives.