Hall of Fame Class Is Epitome of 'Class' –Michelson
Preparing this special issue every year that features our newest class of Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame inductees is very gratifying. As an industry, we often fixate on the numerous challenges that we face. But, the Hall of Fame pays tribute to those who embody the positive traits that make printers a special breed. Now in its 29th year, the Hall of Fame personifies the drive, resiliency, vision and leadership it takes to build and sustain a thriving business.
Take the elder statesman in this year's class: Frank Defino Sr. When it comes to emerging technologies, his inquisitive nature has kept Tukaiz one step ahead of the competition. Whether acquiring early electronic scanning and retouching systems in the 1970s, being among the very first Indigo E-Print 1000 digital offset press users in the '90s or, more recently, installing Scodix digital enhancement presses, Frank Defino epitomizes true entrepreneurial spirit and calculated risk-taking.
Being a shrewd risk taker could aptly describe Dave Pilcher Sr., too. After an illustrious career at several industry heavyweights, Pilcher saw an opportunity to purchase a floundering publication printing business that was facing foreclosure. Under his leadership, Freeport Press is now thriving, not just surviving, in a highly competitive market segment. With the help of his two sons, Freeport has become an industry leader in terms of workflow efficiencies and web offset waste reduction.
Going all in on an acquisition has also been a driving force in Bill Fitzgerald's success. Beginning in 2001, he has acquired 11 companies to achieve his "Thought to Distribution" vision for Universal Wilde. With direct response marketing creative, strategic and analytical services; conventional and digital print production; and robust mailing and fulfillment capabilities, Universal Wilde has far-surpassed the transactional role many printers have with clients into true business partnerships.
A tireless work ethic, the willingness to invest in technology and the ability to target emerging opportunities in large-format printing helped Bob Lothenbach—our final 2013 inductee—to build Imagine! Print Solutions from scratch into a $200 million enterprise in 25 years with some 850 employees. Lothenbach hasn't let this remarkable achievement go to his head, though. He well-knows that there is no "i" in the word "team." He once proved his down-to-earth management style and team-building skills ability by scrubbing Imagine!'s urinals and toilets for 18 months Now, that's something most people would consider the ultimate commitment.