Rodney Brown: A Tale of Two In-plant Eras
"I LEARNED how to run the Ludlows and then offset," says Rodney Brown, referring to a stint working on a Ludlow hot metal typesetting system at Kent County Publishing back in May 1965. "It was rigorous to do. I just liked it. Even back then, there was always something new."
Brown later became head pressman at Tidewater Publishing but left to pursue an education, even after receiving a 10-cent raise. "It was a big deal back then," he remarks.
Brown, now manager of University Printing at the University of Delaware—where he oversees a staff of 17 and an operating budget of $2.8 million—has seen a lot of changes since those early days. At the university now for nearly 30 years, and a well-known figure in the in-plant industry, Brown would still probably rather be taking in a ball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, or skipping across the Chesapeake Bay on his 42-foot Sea Ray Sundancer with his wife, Karen, if he had his choice. Or perhaps he would head to one of Delaware's beaches with her and their two children and four grandchildren.
An avid boating enthusiast, Brown started his love of the seas young, fishing with his father in a Wellcraft. "God, I was 9," he recalls.
Growing up on a farm in Ingelside, Md., he attended grade school in a one-room school house that didn't even have a toilet inside. But that world might as well have happened to someone else as now his time is split between boating on a luxury vessel and working with multi-color offset and digital presses in his award-winning in-plant.
In 1969, though, Brown and his colleague Jerry Rash worked at Dover Litho Printing—Brown on the front end, Rash in the press area. But one day the paper cutter at the shop received a raise and Brown didn't, even though he basically ran the shop for his boss.
Related story: Delaware Dives into Digital Color