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Kudos to Some Young Leaders and an Old Pro

August 2004
I'll readily admit that the selection process for the 20 industry leaders 40 years old and younger profiled in this issue wasn't totally scientific. Sure, we called around to various associations and printer contacts seeking names of appropriate candidates, some of whom are active in young print professional groups. The 20 people chosen are all well-qualified but—before we get chastised for missing someone who should have made the list—let me cop out by also noting that I'm sure there are many other young rising stars in the industry who didn't appear on our radar screen while we researched this article.

Nonetheless, perhaps this cover story may help dispel the widely held belief that there is a severe void of young leaders and professional managers in the printing industry. Yes, the perception of the graphic arts as a career choice among college-bound students is quite low and, undoubtedly, something we must continually strive to change. But those who do make their way into the printing industry—even the offspring at family owned printing companies who may start out in another field—are hooked once they catch the printing bug. Why? Because this is a custom manufacturing industry in which no two jobs are alike. "Technophobes" need not apply either; the technological changes occurring in printing rival the advances of most any industry.

By the same token, we're an industry steeped in tradition where, more often than not, the executives who have reached the top have risen through the ranks by working in various departments within their organizations, as well as for several different printing companies. While youthful exuberance is important, nothing prepares a leader more than old-fashioned experience. Although not the president of his company, Richard Bunker, vice president of marketing at Times Litho in Forest Grove, OR, has certainly earned his industry stripes. He started with Times Litho in April of 1947 and, except for a four-year stint with the U.S. Navy during the Korean conflict, has been there ever since.

That's 57 years working at the SAME printing company, for those who don't want to do the math. Perhaps even more remarkable, at 74 years old he remains the $10 million commercial heatset web printer's top salesperson—with no plans to retire any time soon. Although he does admit to having a penchant for growing roses and riding around in his 1909 single-cylinder Brush or his 1931 Ford coupe with a rumble seat.

Bunker started working part-time at the then-newspaper publisher and printer while still a junior in high school to earn some gas money so he could borrow his dad's car. (Times Litho shifted from printing weekly newspapers to mainly publications and catalogs with the purchase, starting in the '70s, of three 16-page heatset webs.) The first 22 years of Bunker's career were on the mechanical side of the business. He started out working in the typesetting department as a Linotype machine operator, followed by stints in the bindery and running sheetfed and web presses, before moving into sales in 1969. He believes having first-hand knowledge of how jobs flow through the plant has contributed to his success in selling printing.
 

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