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HOF 05 Something to Prove -- Michael Marcian

September 2005
By Erik Cagle

Senior Editor

High school guidance counselors are not the most enlightened folk. Nor, in general, do they typically put a lot of effort into their student academic assessment evaluations.

People's Exhibit A: Michael Marcian, 54, president of Landover, MD-based Corporate Press, a highly successful and well-respected citizen of the commercial printing industry. But back in his school days, amazingly, Marcian was not ticketed for greatness.

"I was one of the kids whose counselor told my mother, 'He should go to a vocational education program because we do not think he's college material.' Those kids sort of get pigeonholed as non-achievers," Marcian recalls. "I guess if you have goals and work hard enough at them, you'll make it. I've tried to be goal-driven in my life, personally and professionally."

With an exhaustive list of service within PIA/GATF and other association committees on his resume, a growing network of companies within the Corporate Press chain, a thirst for pursuing new markets—not to mention a college degree—Marcian more than qualifies as an achiever. These attributes also punched Marcian's ticket as a 2005 Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame inductee.

A Printing Bloodline

It mattered little that his guidance counselor didn't see great things for Marcian, who would develop a hard shell while growing up, particularly in high school. His father, Norbert, a printer in his own right working for the U.S. Information Agency, moved his family from Detroit to Washington, DC, then on to the Philippines. The younger Marcian vividly remembers spending Saturdays at the James Motchell Corp. in Detroit while Norbert put in overtime.

Marcian received a fast education on the Philippine Islands. As an American, Marcian wasn't allowed to work, but his father let him pull duty in the camera department at the shop to keep his son off the streets of Manila and out of trouble. In those days, trouble and the streets were fairly synonymous.

"It was the wild west. Marcos had just become dictator and martial law was in effect," Marcian notes. "So when you went to the theater, bowling alley or restaurant, you had to check your guns at the coat rack. Everybody had body guards and people were getting was pretty wild."

Not that Marcian and his high school graduating class of 11 didn't have fun. Military flights to Hong Kong or Japan for shopping excursions were common. The black market was waiting just outside the gates of the naval base, where a carton of Salem cigarettes—purchased for under $2 at the commissary—could be moved for the equivalent of $35 U.S. So making a quick buck wasn't all that difficult.

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