Tying Into The Mission
Pete Hoekema was just one month into his job as graphics manager at Muskegon Community College when his pink slip arrived.
It was 1976 and the western Michigan college had decided its graphics program was too expensive. At the time, the school had separate print shops for instruction and production. To help preserve them both, Hoekema huddled with the instructors and proposed a merger.
"I said, if we want to keep this thing going, we really ought to join forces," Hoekema recalls.
So they did. The in-plant was rearranged to let students work on live jobs—with real deadlines. The school saved money, and students got real-world experience.
"Twenty seven years later, we're still here," remarks Hoekema.
But despite the program's success—its students are coveted by area printers—Hoekema did not stop there. He has kept his eye out for new services the in-plant can offer. When the college's sign painter/photographer retired, the in-plant took on sign making and installed a vinyl cutter. As a result, a vinyl-cutting course was added to the curriculum.
More recently, a 44˝ Epson 10000 wide-format ink-jet printer was installed to produce posters for campus. Students also use it to print design projects.
"Everything we get in, we are sure to show the board and the president how we're using it and how it fits in with the mission of the college," he explains.
This strategy has worked other times too. When Hoekema wanted to replace the shop's 40-year-old folder, he justified it by pointing out the educational benefits. He is hopeful the same tactic will get the shop a faster and larger imagesetter.
Another new service the in-plant has taken on is management of convenience copier contracts.
"That's a nice little profit maker," Hoekema reveals.
The in-plant, with two full-timers, a part-timer and a half dozen or so student workers, handles a fair amount of four-color offset work.