Making the Big Plays
The mailing operation was upgraded recently with a newer-version Pitney Bowes inserter. The in-plant handles internal mail, as well as the distribution of U.S. mail via two contract postal stations (on and off campus) that "act like real post offices," says Sarantakos. "We're not doing anything out of the ordinary, but our people are handling postal transactions that would normally require a trip to the local post office."
Extreme Staff Loyalty
Those employees and the entire in-plant staff demonstrate extreme loyalty and a collective positive attitude about their jobs (plus the ability to perform superlatively). Despite the low turnover rate, however, five employees have retired just in the last year, leaving more work for fewer people.
"And it's getting harder and harder to find qualified people," Sarantakos notes.
One of those retirees had 38 years of service, while another left after 35 years. "Then there was the young guy—he was only here for 29 years," Sarantakos jokes.
At OU, employee longevity correlates with opportunity. "Although there are no automatics, we offer career paths that staff can move up," he says, noting that "one retiree who started out as a press feeder ended up a supervisor and another as head pressman."
Sarantakos also has the right attitude to keep everyone on target, while encouraging outside-the-box thinking to add value and profit. He has led the operation to embrace capabilities such as wide-format printing, along with more recent endeavors like engraving, dye-sublimation printing and sales of novelty items.
"Did we need a laser engraver? No, but I believed that we could make money with one—and we did," Sarantakos reports. "We'll engrave on anything: pens, pocket knives, wood, metal, glass, coffee cups, name tags, pretty much whatever.
"We were turned on to dye-sub by a colleague and, as greedy as I am, we were all over it," he laughs.
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