2009 Printing Industry Hall of Fame: Joy of the Journey
Ralph Pontillo of Miami Valley Publishing.
Ralph Pontillo poses with his wife, Pamela, of 36 years.
“It was kind of scary,” he says of negotiating a deal in such a sour economy. “A lot of my friends called me and questioned whether I knew what the heck I was doing. But, it really came down to having managed this facility for the past 15 years. I know this business, I know the customers and I believe strongly in our people.
“We’re going to make it work, with all 150 of us committed to doing whatever it takes. Every person throughout our facility is focused on making sure we keep our jobs. Like I told everyone in the plant, we’re here to save everybody’s job, including mine. We’re not going to get rich in printing. But our goal is to keep the company afloat and to maintain our livelihoods. We all enjoy what we’re doing, and hopefully we can all retire from here.”
Attracted to the creative and mechanical aspects of printing, Pontillo enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Stout after graduating from high school. He credits much of his print grooming to the quality instruction he received in high school. In fact, one of Pontillo’s instructors was instrumental in making his matriculation at Stout a reality. And, as an example of the small world that is printing, Pontillo ended up working for that instructor’s son at W.A. Krueger in Scottsdale, AZ.
Learning the Business
Armed with a BS in industrial technology, Pontillo’s first printing job was with Wallace Business Forms, where he worked in maintenance. After a stint with a small printer, Pontillo landed at W.A. Krueger, where he came into his own from a manufacturing standpoint. The best practices and business philosophies he picked up along the way left a lasting imprint on how he would later navigate Miami Valley.
“It was extremely important having that production background and working for a company like Krueger, which was very focused on scheduled maintenance, statistics and Deming’s process control theories,” Pontillo says. “Gathering metrics and utilizing all that information has a positive impact on the operations. It’s all about using data as a tool, and not a weapon, to manage your business.