2013 Hall of Fame : Bill Fitzgerald - It Was Love at First SightSeptember 2013 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
It's frequently referred to as that "ah-hah" we all experience at some point in our lives—the moment in which the clouds open, angels sing and clarity hits us. Whether it's a revelation that propels us forward in our personal or professional lives, we tend to remember even the most subtle minutiae about that point in time.
For Bill Fitzgerald, a professional trip from Point A to Point B yielded an eye-opening experience at Point C. While working at a printing firm making Cromalin proofs early in his professional career in 1978, the Massachusetts born and bred Fitzgerald quickly found the mindless job to be the height of tedium. So, when they needed help in the shipping department, the invisible harps began to play.
"When I was led through the pressroom, which I never saw prior to that day, I saw plain white paper going into one end of the press and this beautiful image—a yellow-petaled flower—coming out the other side at relatively high speed," Fitzgerald recalls. "I knew from that moment I wanted to learn everything I could about printing. I still remember the moment vividly today."
It may have been the first time that something different caught Fitzgerald's eye at a print shop, but it wouldn't be the last. Perhaps it was a willingness to learn every aspect about a printing operation, being unafraid of getting his hands dirty and pushing himself to be the very best in his profession, that led to a long and highly successful career in the printing industry. The CEO of Westwood, MA-based Universal Wilde has also carved out a niche for himself as a member of the 2013 Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame induction class.
Even as a youngster, Fitzgerald developed a reputation for being a go-getter, a hustler looking to make a few bucks by mowing lawns or shoveling snow. His tenacious personality enabled him to be a fierce competitor, whether it be baseball in the back yard or playing on the hockey team.
"I loved sports and loved to compete," he notes. "I wasn't necessarily the biggest kid, or the best, but I tried the hardest."
Joining the industry right out of high school, Fitzgerald took it upon himself to become well-versed in virtually every aspect of a printing business. Aside from proofing, he has worked a camera, plate making, press, bindery and shipping, not to mention customer service, estimating and sales. Fitzgerald was never bored with the workflow (OK, making Cromalin proofs wasn't all that stimulating), so he never gave thought to any other line of work.