Progress and Passion
When Kandy House first enrolled in her vocational technical high school’s business program, studying graphic arts wasn’t anywhere on her radar. In fact, she says she didn’t even know exactly what the graphic arts were.
But after spending some time as a business student, House realized she wasn’t enjoying the program. Some of her friends in other programs had been attending Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA) competitions and she wanted to join in. So, she made the leap to graphic arts and never looked back. House has now been in the printing industry for approximately 25 years, and has spent the last 15 at Southwestern Oklahoma State University’s in-plant.
House says she quickly took to the graphic arts program, primarily because of the encouragement of Lynn Dobyns, a teacher she had in her senior year. She explains that if it wasn’t for his support, she may have ended up choosing another career path.
“I had never had a teacher like him before that actually got involved in what you were interested in,” House explains. “He worked with everybody that way. He was so personable and so helpful and always positive. He always wanted to help you find something that you liked to do.”
Learning the Ropes
House’s high school teacher didn’t stop supporting her goals to work in graphic arts after graduation, though. House says he helped her obtain her first job in the printing industry at Linderer Printing Co., a local commercial shop, where she quickly climbed the ladder to shop foreman.
The opening came because the shop’s darkroom technician was preparing to go on maternity leave. House was supposed to fill in for a few months, but at the end of that timeframe, she stayed on board and was hired as a press operator.
After a few years as an operator, House received her first managerial job when she was promoted to foreman. House says the owners of the small shop took their business principles seriously and always maintained a strong appreciation for the customer. As a result, she explains, her decade in the commercial world helped her develop her customer service skills, which have proved invaluable at the in-plant.
“Even though we’re an in plant, everyone is still a customer, even though we’re coworkers,” House states. “I really got that appreciation working in a commercial shop that the customers are right and they get what they pay for.”
A Much Different In-plant
When House was hired on as an assistant manager at University Press, the in-plant for Southwestern Oklahoma State University, it was a much different shop than the one that currently serves the university’s main campus in Weatherford, OK, and a smaller campus in Sayre, OK.
It was 2000 and the shop, which currently prints a majority of its jobs digitally, was almost entirely offset.
“Back then we didn’t have any digital equipment,” House says. “We had one little Canon copier that did color and we guarded it with our life and didn’t want anyone using it because it was so expensive.”
But eventually, the industry changed and the in-plant had to adapt. In House’s time at University Press, she has seen the darkroom get shut down and digital printing equipment get installed. While the in-plant does still maintain three Ryobi offset presses, it mainly relies on its Ricoh Pro C901 digital press and smaller Savin 1357 black-and-white machines.
Though the shift to digital ended up reducing the in-plant’s full-time staff to two, plus two to three student workers, House explains that adding digital “printing on the fly” capabilities has been beneficial for the in-plant’s customers.
“There’s no more storage and no more waste because you had to change a phone number or something like that,” she explains. “If you need something in a couple hours, call us. We can get it done for you.”
Dedicated IPMA Member
For approximately seven years, House has been connecting with her in-plant peers through her membership in the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA). But she’s not just a member of the national organization, she’s active in her local Oklahoma City chapter as well, currently serving as the chapter’s secretary.
She says that being an IPMA member has helped her connect with her industry peers and provides a way for her to talk shop with a variety of other professionals.
“I like to talk to others about what new equipment they have installed or what improvements they are making,” she says. “I like bringing new ideas back to my shop.”
Though SWOSU’s athletic programs play in the less glamorous Division II of the NCAA compared to it’s Big 12 neighbors at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, House says the in-plant works hard to produce exceptional work for the school’s sports squads.
In particular, she says the in-plant takes a great deal of pride in the football posters and schedules it prints. The school’s designers provide a different theme for these materials each year, and they’re always visually stunning. In fact, House says the designer of these pieces has entered them in public relations contests where they have earned awards.
“It’s just an honor for him to do that and for us to get to print it, and for everyone to get to see that kind of [work],” House says. “I can’t take the credit for the design work, but it’s just nice that we get to be involved.”
Outside of work, House says she is an avid runner and has completed three half marathons. She is also married and enjoys spending time with her border collie and several nieces and nephews.