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Popular Figure Has His Own Figurines —Cagle

October 2006
BACK IN August, we ran a cover story on industry veterans and featured some of their memorable stories, an idea we’d like to repeat for a future issue. Or, we’ll just call Jesse Williamson and ask him to spin a few yarns.

The president of Williamson Printing in Dallas is an honest and open man, one of the more colorful and charismatic figures in the printing industry. The stories other people tell about Williamson are pretty amusing, and almost as good as those he tells on himself. Too bad we can’t tell them all, but a funny one appears in his Hall of Fame profile on page 38.

And what other principle in the industry has his own action figures? Two, in fact. It’s true; we have them sitting atop our partitions. One represents Jesse before he lost 150 pounds; the other is how he looks today...though the ears are disproportionate. All this time I thought Adam Dunn was the biggest thing to come out of Texas—the Dumbos on the “after” Jesse put Ross Perot’s to shame. Fortunately for Jesse, the ears aren’t accurate. The likeness is striking—a great printing job by Williamson, with the dolls by Toy2r (www.toy2r.com).

One outtake from the Hall of Fame interview: A young Jesse waits two hours in the foyer of a potential customer. When the prospect finally arrives, he discovers that Jesse, like himself, was a graduate of Southern Methodist University. They chew the fat for a little while and, before he knows it, Jesse nails down the account. Good salesmanship, to be sure, nothing overly impressive. But what was the reason behind making Jesse wait so long?

“He came in with blood covering his overalls,” Jesse explains. “He’d been castrating cows.”

And you thought your print buyer had you by the short ones. . .

MONEY WELL SPENT?: Seeing NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin qualify for the Race for the Chase, a spot in that sport’s “playoff” drive for the Nextel Cup championship last month, made me wonder about something. How much value does FedEx/Kinko’s derive from that relationship?

According to Crain’s Chicago Business, primary sponsorship of a car in NASCAR’s top racing division is in the $15 million to $20 million neighborhood. Hamlin is in his rookie campaign, so we could presume—right or wrong—that his price tag was at the low end. However, FedEx/Kinko’s augmented its sponsorship with an aggressive, comprehensive television ad campaign. So the unofficial king of quickies (printing and overnight delivery, that is) did not get by cheap.

Now that Hamlin is vying for the title, FedEx/Kinko’s should start to see some return on its investment. NASCAR fans are notorious for allegiance toward their favorite driver’s sponsors, to the point of buying every product that supports their driver. Maybe the greater printing industry can back racers that readily identified with the company, geographically or culturally. Perhaps Quebecor World or Transcontinental could support Canadian driver Ron Fellows. Or maybe Bob Burton and Cenveo could sponsor someone who represents Burton’s relentless, hard-charging tactics; a driver who is accused of being ruthless and doing whatever it takes to win, which he does frequently.

Unfortunately for Burton, Home Depot sponsors Tony Stewart.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Speaking of aggressive driving, so help me, if one more delivery truck cuts me off on the Ben Franklin Bridge (which connects Camden, NJ, and Philadelphia) I’m going to find that old black and battered 1978 Ford Granada that I owned in college, paint a yellow smiley face on its hood, and then drive into work with reckless impunity. But before I ‘trade paint,’ I’ll make sure to have the name of a certain supplier stenciled on the doors. I won’t name names, but let’s just say there are some Xs involved.

I don’t think it’s problematic of the printing industry. Delivery trucks, in general, are all over the road. Regardless of whether a human kidney is being rushed for a transplant, or fountain solution is bound for Lito’s Litho, priority is always high.

But we’re not without sympathy for these devils. A recent AP story pointed out that commercial delivery trucks rack up an average of 7,000 parking tickets a day in New York City and must dole out a staggering $102 million in fines. UPS is the Big Apple’s best customer, having forked over $18.7 million in parking violations last year. FedEx came in second with $8.2 million.

That these delivery companies have to pay such exorbitant fines is ridiculous. Loading zones and available parking spaces do not exist in NYC, but businesses do. It amounts to the city of New York extorting the delivery sector in order to do business there. The shakedown may not register on the radar screen of a UPS or FedEx, but you get the sense that it can be impacting small businesses that deliver foodstuffs or other consumables.

The nerdy part of me that rails for justice and vindication wishes the large, corporate delivery community would unite and boycott all New York City deliveries until the city capitulates. After only one day, pressure on City Hall would be unbearable. The mayor would cave. No more tickets for reasonable delivery times. OK, back to reality.

ERIK CAGLE
 

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