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EDITOR'S notebook

September 2003
California Dreamin'

You're terminated Arnold Schwarzenegger. Grow up Gary Coleman. Don't vote for a hustler named Larry Flynt. Printer John Beard Jr.—whose family runs

Los Angeles-based G2 Graphic Service—has thrown his hat into the ring as a Republican candidate in the recall election for governor of California. The 41-year-old is running on a pro-business platform. "California has customers just like I do," Beard points out. "It just calls them residents. This state would be in a lot better condition if its government treated the people of California like customers, not tenants."

Beard knows well the importance of exemplary customer service. Armed with an arsenal of two Creo Trendsetters for computer-to-plate production and digital proofing; a six-color, 40˝ Heidelberg Speedmaster CD 102 with coater; a six-color, 20˝ Speedmaster SM52 with coater; a six-color, 28˝ Akiyama; two Xerox DocuTechs; as well as an assortment of prepress workstations, wide-format printers and bindery equipment, the 35,000-square-foot operation caters largely to the fast-turnaround needs of the Los Angeles entertainment industry.

"As governor, I plan on treating our citizens just like we do G2's customers," he proclaims. "Only my 420 clients know my name right now, but they know my family has perfected the concept of extraordinary service. That's the message I'm taking to California—extraordinary service for every man, woman and child." As a businessman, Beard is especially frustrated about California's skyrocketing worker's compensation and liability insurance, as well as escalating energy usage rates due to deregulation.

Started by his father as a stat shop in 1969 with one employee (who, by the way, still works for the company), the now 70-worker shop has always prided itself on taking good care of its employees. Paying 100 percent of health insurance premiums for workers and their families, G2 has seen its health insurance costs rise 23 percent since January alone. Worker's comp rates have doubled in the past two years. There are unreasonable state regulations regarding overtime. And even the family/medical leave laws in California require employers to hold a worker's job after six months off.

"I'm seeing more and more of an exodus of printers and trade binders relocating to Phoenix or Las Vegas to escape California's high costs of doing business," Beard observes. "Worker's comp rates there alone are 60 to 70 percent less than here." And, as an example of state government gone awry, Beard notes recent legislation that allows illegal immigrants to receive driver's licenses.

A recent cartoon in a local paper, from his view, sums up Gray Davis' approach to balancing California's $38 billion budget deficit. It shows Davis on the back of the sinking Titanic with the caption, "I've got the answer—let's just charge more for the tickets."

Beard has been stumping on the campaign trail, time permitting, after paying the $3,500 fee and getting the required signatures among registered voters to be certified as a candidate. He took part in a local debate and spoke to a Republican group recently.

He also made it on ABC World News Tonight. But don't assume that he's running just to get noticed by his clients. The entertainment industry largely votes Democratic, he says. And—with five children and another one on the way—when asked if his wife supports his candidacy, Beard quips, "Well, she's pregnant."

Mark T. Michelson
 

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