2006 PRINTING INDUSTRY HALL OF FAME — KEEPER OF THE FLAMEOctober 2006
Take Tom Quadracci. He’d just obtained his undergraduate degree at Regis University in Denver and had moved on to Stanford for postgraduate work toward what he’d intended to be a career as a marine biologist. His future was set.
“When you’re that age, you have visions of sailing around and collecting specimens,” Quadracci says.
Then he got a call from Uncle Sam. Even though the war was winding down, Quadracci’s country (and the U.S. Army) needed him. Or so it seemed.
Quadracci went home to the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa, WI, and waited for his marching orders. During that wait, he helped his older brother, Harry, get the ball rolling on a startup printing business called Quad/Graphics. Tom Quadracci had worked at another printing plant, W.A. Krueger, with his father every summer during high school and college, so it was hardly foreign territory to him.
As it turned out, the Army didn’t need him after all. And Tom Quadracci’s name would never become synonymous with Jacques Cousteau.
“I guess I had more ink in my veins than I realized,” he admits. “I don’t know if marine biology would have been all that glamorous. I think most people end up working in a lab.”
Science’s loss turned out to be the printing industry’s gain. Quadracci, 58, played a pivotal role in helping his brother develop Sussex, WI-based Quad/Graphics into the ideal privately held business model with $1.8 billion in annual sales, and co-founded auxiliary press equipment manufacturer QuadTech.
Those credentials more than qualify him as a 2006 inductee into the PRINTING IMPRESSIONS/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame, which is co-sponsored by the Rochester Institute of Technology.
The award further underscores the staunch reputation of the Quadracci clan and status as the first family of the printing industry. Tom’s father and older brother—Harry R. and Harry V. Quadracci, respectively—are past Hall of Fame inductees and viewed as pioneers. And now Tom, the chairman of the board who is retiring at year’s end, hands off full leadership to nephew Joel Quadracci, Harry’s son.
Quadracci experienced what he termed an uneventful childhood. He was by far the youngest of three boys—13 years separated him and Harry, and the gap was 10 years with middle child Len. “I came on as somewhat of a surprise,” he laughs.