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New York Printers — Perceptions Cloud Reality

September 2008 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
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PERHAPS NO other state in the nation is as heralded and hated, lauded and lampooned, and adored and abhorred, as much as New York. But let's be frank...99 percent of the ill will is directed at New York City. You don't hear anyone seething, "I swear, those snobby Uticans really tick me off." Likewise, no one has complained about the arrogance of those lousy Oneonta Tigers fans.

The Big Apple! Musicians coined the phrase "Big Apple," because when you played the Big Apple, it meant you played the big time. And we believe the hype. Frankie said it--make it there, make it anywhere. It's the home of Wall Street, Broadway and Fifth Avenue. You know a city's got serious clout when its street names have their own identity.

Which brings us to sports fans of New York City teams...studies show that 75 percent of the animosity directed toward the Big Apple stems from the sometimes cocky and often arrogant attitude that Yankee baseball fans demonstrate. A century of Babes, Mickeys, Joe Ds and Yogis have created 26 World Series titles and an everlasting sense of entitlement.

But there is so much to love about the Big Apple. It's arguably viewed as the preeminent city in not only North America, but the world over. When it comes to theater (live and film), arts, music, entertainment, political and social consciousness, New York City sets the pace. And what a pace! Everyone is in a hurry.

Distinctly Its Own State

But one city does not a state make, even if it is the most prolific burg in the world. The state itself has its own set of distinctions. For example (courtesy of

o Oneida boasts the world's smallest church at 42x72?.

o The nation's first railroad ran 11 miles between Albany and Schenectady.

o Chittenago hosts an annual Munchkins parade in honor of its most revered son, "Wizard of Oz" author L. Frank Baum.

o The Catskills boast the legend of Rip Van Winkle, brown trout and flycasting.

With more than 70,000 miles of rivers and streams, New York state is a nature lover's delight, with 176 parks, the Adirondacks, Catskills, Finger Lakes, Niagara Falls, etc., making it idyllic for hiking, biking, rafting, camping, fishing, you name it. Those with a taste for the grapes can visit countless vineyards.

OK, let's not get drafted into the "I Love New York" campaign. But sometimes we need to distinguish the city and state. It's not all one huge island, punctuated by an iron lady holding a torch and tablet. It boasts a long and proud printing tradition, with some of the country's finest in the trade doing business in the Empire State.

"Years ago, I was talking to someone from Colorado who asked me where I was from," recalls Dan Mahany, president and CEO of Canfield & Tack in Rochester. "When I told him, he said, 'Wow! Is it tall buildings all the way to Manhattan?' "

That would be about 325 to 350 miles worth of skyscrapers. No wonder New Yorkers cop an occasional attitude.

"There's a lot of fertile land between here and there. People grow crops on them," Mahany laughs. "I just thought it was comical."

Misconceptions can cause natives of any state to roll their eyes, but for some New York printers, the questions asked of them can be bizarre. Take Steven Vid, the president and CEO of Merlin Printing, the leading printer in Amityville. Name of that town ring a bell?

Yep, Amityville Horror, the story about a family who moved out of their new home 28 days after moving in because they were terrorized by paranormal activity. A bestselling novel and several movies "documented" the events in this house, which we're led to believe became haunted in the mid-1970s because the previous owner murdered his family there.

"We take in a tremendous amount of paper from Canada, and most of the truck drivers want to know where the house is," Vid admits. "We get occasional customers asking about it. It was a long time ago for people to still be asking, but they keep making movies, and it keeps bringing the story back into people's minds. I guess it will never go away."

The house is now owned by the former Village of Amityville police chief. Guess the spirits are keeping their noses clean.

"We laugh at the movies," Vid notes.

New York boasts a hearty stock, and not just the NYC folk. The Rochester area is a hotbed of printing activity and has been known to have some wintry challenges in the form of precipitation (it averages more than 90? of snow per year). So when a Southern print buyer evaluated a proposal from Rochester's Flower City Printing, the client began to question the prospect of doing business with a company in the snow belt.

Mark Ashworth, president of Flower City, was undaunted. He pulled out the company's disaster recovery plan, which revealed the printer had never closed due to a weather event, then made a report with other relevant information and e-mailed it to the print buyer. Ten minutes later, Ashworth called the buyer to make sure he had received the information.

"What I heard was a message recording at their headquarters, saying they were closed due to weather," Ashworth laughs. "They got half an inch of snow and they closed the city."

Close, Concrete Quarters

For those few printers still doing business in New York City, there are obvious hazards and inconveniences, like the lack of elbow room for anything. Brooklyn-based Prestone Printing has an interesting footprint: It faces west and is at the dead end of an east-west road that runs parallel to the Long Island Expressway. A block perpendicular to the road connects the Midtown Tunnel and the Queensborough Bridge. We'll let Prestone President Rob Adler explain:

"As the Queensborough Bridge is toll-free and the Tunnel charges a $5 fee, there are many truck drivers and taxi cabs who use these two roads to jump off the expressway before they arrive at the toll tunnel and use the toll-free bridge," he says. "It is not uncommon to look out of our front window from our production office and see a huge tractor trailer coming at full speed to what looks like directly into the office.

"It is for this reason that I chose to have a windowless office in the back of the plant."

Vid, for one, is fiercely proud of the state he calls home. There is so much to do and see in New York. Unfortunately, he feels some residents take its beauty for granted.

"Everybody looks at Long Island as an expensive place to live. I believe you get what you pay for," he says. "The opportunities for recreation and social activities are endless. Being in such proximity to Manhattan, you have incredible theater and entertainment. We probably have 50,000 restaurants on Long Island.

"If you do get an opportunity to experience it, it's a wonderful place to live. That makes it worth the effort to go the extra mile and get the job that affords you to live here. I love the theater, love the beaches, love the restaurants."

Suffice to say, Vid loves New York. PI


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