2007 Printing Industry Hall of Fame — Appreciation for People - David TorokSeptember 2007 By Erik Cagle
Young employees are like children in the sense that they are at an impressionable stage in their careers, and can develop good or bad habits that will grow with them—particularly their attitudes regarding their work. And, after all, one never knows when a future company president is going about his or her day on the shop floor.
George Kaplan of Western Publishing in Racine, WI, didn’t know it at the time, but he was shaping the perspective of a future printing company leader. Little did he know the impact he would have on David Torok, president and CEO of Padgett Printing in Dallas and a 2007 PRINTING IMPRESSIONS/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame inductee.
“George had some letters on the wall behind where he sat— M-M-F-I. It stood for ‘make me feel important,’ ” explains Torok, 60. “Whenever you went into his office, George did a good job of making you feel important. He had an unbelievable work ethic.”
Torok was influenced by a number of executives along the way, which helped mold his appreciation of employees and their hard work. And the man knows a little something about hard work himself.
As a youngster, Torok moved frequently. His father was in charge of manufacturing for Chrysler International. One of the more exotic locales young David had the opportunity to see was Adelaide, Australia, where he spent his early teenage years.
“I learned to play tennis, cricket, squash and Australian rules football,” Torok says of life in Adelaide, which is roughly the size of San Diego. “It’s a slower pace there and everything shuts down at noon on Saturday.
“I went to an English school, so I wore the short pants, knee socks and little Eton cap. I had a really good time.”
Upon returning from Down Under, the Toroks moved to Detroit, where David got his first taste of printing. He took a course in printing, learned the California type case, and became involved in setting type and doing silk screen work.
Assembly Line Roots
It was also during this time that Torok got a true taste of the real Detroit. During summers between semesters at Michigan State, he worked the second shift assembly line building Dodge trucks. At a rate of 45 times per hour, he would assemble the steering components.