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Pauline Gindlesperger Reflects on 75 Years in the Print Industry

March 15, 2010
CHAMBERSBURG, PA— March 15, 2010—Pauline Gindlesperger remembers the print industry before the benefits of e-mail, the Internet, digital photography, digital printing or even photocopying. Less than a couple of decades back, she recalls how every proof had to be snail mailed, hand delivered or picked up. Communications was by landline phones or in person. Edits often required someone with a steady hand cutting out copy with an XACTO knife and then pasting down the correction. Photos were processed in darkrooms using chemicals. Faxes were sent using landline phones that required synchronization by the sender and the receiver. U. S. mail was the way to send and receive letters and packages.

She knows because at age 92 she is completing her 75th year in the industry.

"Never in my dreams would I have imagined that we could do what we can do today," she said. "After World War II, for instance, we thought mimeograph machines were phenomenal. They were replaced by the first photocopiers in the 1960's and look where we are today with computers, digital printing and wireless communications. It really is remarkable what I can do just sitting at my computer. It's wonderful."

She began her career at age 17 and worked in the local paper mill where her first responsibilities included managing the mill's printed label requirements. She rose from clerical positions to become the mill's business manager which included oversight of all of the mill's printing. Ten years later during World War II, she bought a local printing company.

"We specialized in job work, book binding and the ruling of ledger sheets. I bought the company without knowing the first thing about printing," she recalled. "But business is business, and I thought that printing would make a good investment. As soon as my money was in, I had to make some hard management decisions. Once implemented, I was able to add some additional printing from Washington as well as some label printing from the local paper mill. It worked out as one of my best investments. I remember having a 100% ROI the first year."

Back then, Mrs. Gindlesperger said the print industry had just embraced large rotary presses that could print millions of copies a day. The rotary press feeds a continuous stream of paper through drum-shaped cylinders and was much cheaper to operate than any of its predecessors. Printers also were beginning to use smaller jobbing presses – more agile, less cumbersome to set-up than the rotary press. Letter presses capable of printing small-format pieces such as letterheads, business cards and envelopes also became popular. Offset printing was not yet widely used and linotypes and hand-set type were called modern.
 

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