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Hall of Fame--Master of Survivor Skills

September 2000
BY ERIK CAGLE


Defining moments have a way of defining people. The choices made in life can go a long way toward painting a self-portrayal.

When he first stepped foot into this country in 1948, it was clear to Frank Stillo that he was going to have more than his share of disadvantages and challenges. It is not only the way he brilliantly responded to the tasks, it is the manner in which he has flourished that has earned Stillo election into the Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame's Class of 2000.

Stillo is chairman and CEO of Sandy Alexander, a Clifton, NJ-based commercial printer that generates more than $125 million in annual sales. There have also been one or two definining moments between leaving Italy for the United States in 1948 and the present that help explain who exactly Frank Stillo is.

Born in Calabria in the southern portion of Italy in 1934, Stillo's father left the homeland in search of prosperity. The elder Stillo found it in Brooklyn—eventually bought property, then sent for his family to join him in 1948. Frank found himself drafted into the Korean war six short years after his arrival.

"Going into the war had a great deal of impact on my life," Stillo recalls. "It helped me to learn a lot of disciplines—respecting authority, teamwork, responsibility and accountability."

Upon returning, friends convinced him to give commercial printing a try, and Stillo took a Wednesday-to-Sunday job with a publication house for $54 a week. Told it was too much work for too little money, Stillo joined Meehan-Tooker for a respectable $150 a week.

Dynamic Duo
When Stillo met Hal Fogel at a firm called Clarendon, a friendship was formed, followed soon after by a business relationship. Stillo and Fogel broke out on their own and started Carnival Press in 1968. The pair were able to land three antiquated, two-color presses from a Canal Street printer that had gone bankrupt. Since Stillo and Fogel were short on cash, they quickly struck a deal that would allow them to pay the owner in installments.

In the first week of operation, Stillo and Fogel made the mistake of trying to print four-color work on two-color presses. One of the first jobs out of the chute was ruined. What they needed was a four-color press, but since they were still paying for the three outdated machines, how would they be able to afford another—a four-color model at that? Simple: he used the two-color units as a down payment.

 

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