2004 HALL OF FAME George Stephenson — Savior to His Company
Born and raised about three blocks from the White House, Stephenson spent some of his childhood years helping his father, an electrician who worked on radios. He found part-time work with a small print shop as a teenager and operated a small-format Multigraphics 1420 press—an experience that whetted his appetite for the industry. In junior high and high school, Stephenson took printing courses and came to the conclusion that he loved the vocation, even to the point where he left school a year early to pursue commercial printing.
Stephenson started out full-time as a pressman in 1951 and, five years later, formed a partnership to open a small lithographic printing operation in Georgetown. Three years into that venture, his partner encountered personal problems and had to bow out, leaving Stephenson to start from scratch again. However, this time the company, Stephenson Lithograph Printing, had only one boss.
It became clear to Stephenson early on that color printing was going to have a major impact on the industry, so he pieced together the shop accordingly. In 1961, he purchased a two-color Miehle Roland press. A 49˝, two-color Harris followed in 1963, and a four-color, 50˝ Roland joined the fold in 1969.
“I always had a huge interest in color,” Stephenson says. “In the early ’60s, I did my color separations with my own camera. As I grew the company, I would add additional equipment. I installed my first scanner in 1972, and became very involved in working with the design community, which also pushed the color side of printing.
“When color TVs came out, it became obvious to me that color was the hottest thing going,” he adds. “I sought out anyone who wanted color work.”
Stephenson picked up his first annual report job in 1964, and his first major coup was a six-color book for Fairchild Industries. By 1970, he had a stranglehold on the DC-area annual report turf.