Sustainability in the In-Plant
Welcome to my blog, “Keeping it Green - Sustainability in the In-Plant.”
First, I thought I should introduce myself by telling you a little bit about my background in printing. I started my print career in my stepfather’s printing company in Los Angeles, where at the time (the late '70s), in addition to a camera and vacuum frames, he still had two hot type machines. I also learned how to make color separations on camera. Boy, talk about the old days.
Always the rebel, I ventured out to become a rock star. That didn’t work out so well, so I went back to printing, taking a prepress position at my first in-plant, General Dynamics. I went from there to the in-plant operation for a large financial institution where I was promoted to prepress manager. While at this position I helped usher in the “digital age.” It was the early '90s, and we went from paste-up and camera to desktop publishing and imagesetters.
I did a stint as a marketing & job manager at PIP Printing corporate headquarters. I traveled around the country negotiating contracts for PIP with large commercial printers and also worked with national account sales and marketing. After an acquisition and management change at PIP, I moved on to become the general manager of the printing division for an entertainment industry advertising company. While at this position, I purchased a couple of 40˝, six-color presses and, as an early adopter, brought in CTP.
The tragic events of 9/11 had a widespread impact in many ways, including a negative impact on the advertising industry, and with dwindling revenue, I was laid off. After looking for work all over Southern California with no prospects, I interviewed and was offered the position of director of Printing Services at the University of California, Santa Cruz, 500 miles north, I accepted.
I was again working at an in-plant and in a whole new culture, higher education! I really enjoyed the challenge. And what a challenge it was, with a significant budget deficit but a great print department team. We were able to turn that deficit around and got back on track. I also began my work in understanding and contributing to creating sustainable business operations. A couple of years later I must have had a sense of premonition because I thought we should get out of California. A position was open at the University of Colorado and I went for it and got it,. We packed up the family and headed to the Rockies.
What turned out to be a relative short tenure at CU was also a very busy one. The print shop had an unfortunate reputation of producing poor quality, a perception from many years past. I went about changing that by creating a quality control (QC) team and creating a complete QC program. With a little marketing, we were gaining a new and positive reputation. I also concentrated on building the sustainable operations of our operation and developed a few sustainable programs, rebranding the print shop as “Your Sustainable Campus Printer.” These efforts were well received, and I worked closely with the campus’s Sustainability Committee on many campus-wide initiatives.
Unfortunately, despite all the good at CU, the economic crisis took its toll. In May of this year, my position was eliminated. So I decided to go into business for myself and serve my fellow printers.
I am now operating as a consultant in the printing world, assisting with all things printing-related. I do provide a special focus on sustainability, such as sustainable production operations, sustainable business practices and marketing sustainability efforts to print customers and upper management. I also have been developing a program for sustainable certification specifically for in-plants; I think today I am busier than ever.
With this blog I hope to share with all of you a little insight into the world of sustainability and hopefully how participating in that world can make a difference in your print operations, making you a valuable asset to your parent organizations.
Tom recently ventured out on his own and is now president of TNT Sustainable Business Solutions, a consulting firm that promotes and provides services for creating sustainable business practices, measuring and improving print shop effectiveness, and sustainability marketing. He is currently enrolled in the University of Colorado's Professional Studies program and is working towards earning certification in Sustainability Management.