Dedicated to Printing
IT WAS the distinctive smell of chemicals that first enticed Clarence Porter into the printing business.
"There was a print shop in my neighborhood that I would pass by as a kid," Porter recalls, "and as I walked by I could smell those chemicals and look at all the printing stuff. That was my first introduction to printing, and I was fascinated. I was probably 10 years old."
Years later, Porter noticed his high school had one of the same old letterpresses he first saw as kid. He dropped by one day to look at it, and his curiosity heightened even more. Thus began a long and successful career in the printing industry. Fast forward 35 years and you'll find Porter working as a senior print coordinator for CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, in Washington, D.C., where he oversees four employees.
Though Porter's first job was as a Multi 1250 operator at CareFirst, he eventually became a copy analyst, overseeing a fleet of 36 copiers. The technology intrigued him.
"In the late '70s, I started to find all the information I could find about copiers, which happened to be one of the things the corporation wanted to move into," Porter recalls. "It was beneficial to me because that's what I'd been interested in."
Eventually, a supervisor noticed Porter's dedication to the printing business and promoted him to assistant to the manager. From there, he slowly worked his way up to a team leader and finally a supervisor.
At the time, printing was very labor intensive in the in-plant.
"We physically developed plates by hand, and the masters were produced by a machine called an Itek," he says, "and that's how we ended up taking a plain old copy, shooting that copy, and producing copies from a metal or paper plate."