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Hall of Fame--Dedication in Many Forms

September 2000

John Frautschi is as much a part of Webcrafters Inc. as Webcrafters is a part of John Frautschi. The pair are inextricably identified with each other.

Frautschi, 70, chairman of the board at Webcrafters and a 2000 Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame inductee, also has a knack for taking care of the people around him—be they manufacturers, suppliers, his employees, Webcrafters' home city of Madison, WI, and Dane County, or anyone else who happens to step foot into his world.

The commercial printing industry hasn't known a greater friend, either. Frautschi has not only helped pioneer web cover printing, coating capabilities and other landmarks for the book publishing community, he has also helped spread knowledge through the Web Offset Association, various seminars and educational endowments to the graphic arts programs of local universities.

Yet Frautschi sounds more than content to be a part of the wonderfully well-oiled machine that is Webcrafters—the employees and their families—and an industry that has jumped up a few shoe sizes in the last 40 years.

"This job is fun, and it's exciting to be part of an organization and an industry that has grown like it has," he says. "We have 800 employees; that means Webcrafters is supporting about 2,000 people, including families. That's gratifying to know."

Frautschi is also gratified by Webcrafters' long and storied history, which dates back to the 19th century, when Democrat Printing opened its doors for business in 1868. Incorporated in 1890, the newspaper portion of the business was sold in 1921 and Democrat Printing became a general commercial printer.

Fast forward to 1925, when Walter Frautschi joined Democrat Printing, the first of his 72 years with the company. The Frautschi family became sole owners of the company in 1959; only four years earlier, Walter Frautschi was joined by his son, John.

"I had worked here summers as a kid, downtown in the old building," Frautschi recalls. "I can remember walking up the steps of that place, the creaky wood and the smell of all the type solvents."

As a young boy, Frautschi remembers his father bringing home linotype slugs wrapped in butcher's paper with a string tied around it. They would melt the type and pour molten lead into the top of molds to make hundreds of little toy soldiers.

After graduating from prep school in Colorado during World War II, Frautschi attended Amherst College, then Carnegie Tech's School of Printing Management. Upon graduation, he entered the army and taught offset presswork in the map reproduction unit at Ft. Belvoir, VA.


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