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JAPS-OLSON -- Service With a Smile

June 2002
BY ERIK CAGLE


Want a free lesson in time management? Swipe Robert E. Murphy's appointment book. Most people in the commercial printing industry know the chairman of Japs-Olson Co. as Bob Murphy. Make that a multitude of people. Anyone who is involved, at any level, in organizations supporting the print communications industry is familiar with the longtime leader of the St. Louis Park, MN-based printer.


His resume reads like a Who's Who of industry organizations: Murphy serves on the boards of the Printing Industries of America (PIA), as well as its Minnesota affiliate; the Graphic Arts Show Co.; the Graphic Arts Education & Research Foundation (GAERF); and the Print & Graphics Association International. He's also chairing the search committee to find a CEO for the PIA/GATF and is chairing the PIA's PrintPac legislative efforts this year. His company is a member of the aforementioned Graphic Arts Technical Foundation, along with the Direct Mail Association and the National Association for Printing Leadership.

Industry Leadership

Counting sub-duties within these organizations, Murphy is or has been involved with more than 20 committees. Clearly one of commercial printing's best friends, he can be counted on to share his time and wisdom when asked.

"I believe strongly in the involvement of industry associations," Murphy says. "We can accomplish more working together than we could ever do individually. The ability to share ideas, problems and solutions eliminates the necessity for each of us to reinvent the wheel. This provides the opportunity to communicate with people you normally wouldn't if you didn't have a medium to do it through."

Aside from his industry service, Murphy also keeps a finger on the pulse of what is going on in the industry through his 700-employee company—a force in both direct mail and advertising niches that registered in excess of $120 million in sales in 2001. It has been a long road for Japs-Olson, one that has witnessed the company in three Minneapolis locales before setting up shop in this Twin Cities suburb.

Founded by Barney Japs and Gus Olson in 1907, the company began its life manufacturing business forms, though not the traditional multi-part forms that come to mind. The company, an early innovator in the lithography field, created ledgers which went with a patented binder that allowed for additional sheets.

Growth was slow but continuous in the '40s and '50s before finding the direct mail niche in the mid-1960s. Japs-Olson found a wealth in clientele, producing for industries such as insurance, financial, fundraising and retail markets.
 

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