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1998 Hall of Fame--Giving Back to The Industry

October 1998
Suttle Press' John Berthelsen loves to impart his experience on others.


BY ERIK CAGLE


John R. Berthelsen has been inspired and motivated by many people in his professional life.

Whether it's speaker Zig Ziglar or his high school shop teacher, Berthelsen—co-owner of Waunakee, WI-based Suttle Press and a 1998 inductee in the Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame—has made a habit out of taking nuggets of wisdom from influences in his life and incorporating them into his own work experience. Now Berthelsen is returning the favor whenever possible.

"Zig Ziglar has a great statement, that you can have everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want," Berthelsen says of the motivational speaker. "I think that's a nice guiding principle. Whether it's inside my company, organization or industry, I've always tried to be a positive influence. Present ideas or methods of doing things, or create opportunities for people or organizations and, hopefully, everybody benefits."

It seems Berthelsen has benefitted as well. Suttle Press has an impressive track record of 19 years of successive growth, yet there are no management secrets he will keep for himself.

"John brings a level of commitment that is very important to our industry," says Gregg Van Wert, president of the National Association of Printers and Lithographers. "The contributions that industry associations make to the advancement of management expertise are only as good as the people who agree to share what they know. John has been a willing partner in that."

Berthelsen dropped into the world of commercial printing quite accidentally. As a freshman attending high school in Albert Lea, MN, he needed two semesters of industrial arts. He signed up for electronics and the then-high-tech world of transistors for the first semester. Instead of woodworking or automotive mechanics the second semester, he tried his hand at printing.

"I just have ink in my blood, and it hasn't left since," Berthelsen admits. "Part of the credit goes to my instructor who was enthusiastic about the graphic arts. And I just thought it was a neat thing to be doing—creating different kinds of works and producing them. The rest is history."

History Lesson
Berthelsen didn't know it at the time, but he was just getting his first taste of the industry. He began working for an in-plant printing operation his sophomore year of high school. The following year, Berthelsen and a school chum purchased an old duplicator and started their own company.

 

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