Members of the Bellak Color team are, seated from left: Naylette Soublette, Arelis Fernandez and Neil Fernandez. Standing are Luis Soublette, Manny Fernandez Sr. and Manny Fernandez Jr.
Bellak Color press operator Juan Mendoza (left) and Luis Soublette, vice president of operations, take a closer look at a press proof.
Postpress operator Orlando Vasquez moves a job through an MBO Super-KTZ K-800 folder equipped with Navigator control.
MANNY FERNANDEZ Sr. has that deep vocal tone and rolling Cuban accent that is so captivating, it makes you wish he’d talk all day. But it’s the story, and not the voice behind the owner of Bellak Color in Miami, that proves most memorable. Fernandez’s tale is one of a Caribbean transplant who relied on his own two hands to stir up dust and mold it into a cement foundation, from which Bellak Color arose from the small color separations business it was when he joined in 1967 to the $10+ million performer it is today.
Incredibly, on the very first day Fernandez was on the job, he stated an ambitious goal. He wanted to purchase the company.
Fernandez was 20 years old; he had turned 20 that day. His wife was pregnant. He had little money and no work experience outside of making separations. That didn’t stop him from approaching shop owner Lazlo Bellak to not only ask for a job, but to one day take the helm of Bellak’s company.
Bellak was a celebrity from the table tennis circuit who, in the 1920s and 1930s, had gained international renown as “The Clown Prince of Table Tennis,” winning 21 medals at the World Championships for his native Hungary. He made a career out of keeping his eyes on the ball.
Fernandez would succeed him by keeping his eyes on the prize.
“I fell in love with the fact that with four colors, you can do so many things,” Fernandez recalls. “I started talking to him. Bellak didn’t have any family, just his wife. I told him that if he taught me the business, I could help grow it to become a real company. And, if we accomplished that, could I then buy it from him?”