2013 Hall of Fame : David Pilcher Sr. – Inspiration and Reclamation
Dave Pilcher Sr. poses with the most well-known printer of them all—Benjamin Franklin.
The Pilcher clan (from left): Dave Jr., vice president of sales; Dave Sr.; and James, vice president of operations.
“I had the unique privilege of being able to be involved in any meeting, on any subject, at any one of Frank’s 10 manufacturing facilities or the partnerships,” Pilcher explains. “It was an unbelievable opportunity for me. Frank was a peer of (Harry) Quadracci; they each evolved in their own ways.”
Starting at the Ground Floor
Pilcher’s evolution began in the early 1960s, when he joined a church youth group that spent nine months in Berlin, Germany. It was an exciting time to be there, as it coincided with the Berlin Crisis during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Regardless, the group had its own small printing operation that was in place to promote the church’s ministries, and Pilcher was instrumental in the printing of literature and other materials.
He spent the next four years working his way through Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC. Pilcher worked security at night and, during the day, he logged time in the university’s in-plant printing operation.
“We had some ancient equipment in there,” he recalls. “We were burning plates with a carbon arc lamp and things like that, so it was pretty crude.”
Pilcher spent the summers between semesters working at a number of print shops in and around his native Chicago, the final two spent with Litho Color Press and Good News Publishers. He started out as a customer service manager when he went full-time, but shot his way up the ladder to become general manager, and the second in command to company owner Paul Benson.
“I felt like a kid in a candy store. I was free to do what I needed to do and I was learning all aspects of the operation—customer service, estimating, expanding the building, buying property, purchasing web offset presses. I really took them into the web area and also helped them buy perfect binding equipment. We significantly grew that business and brought it up to speed.”