Field of DreamsApril 2008
Field has operated his company with a “boutique mentality,” focusing on fulfilling the individual needs of customers, investing in new technology and placing a strong emphasis on employee training. Because of his outstanding achievement in creating one of the most successful commercial printing operations in Chicago from the ground up, and his continued involvement with industry organizations, Field will be awarded the 2008 Harry V. Quadracci VISION Award during the annual Offset and Beyond Conference later this month.
“I am truly honored to receive this prestigious award, and I accept it with great appreciation,” Field says. “Harry Quadracci was an amazing visionary, and was the ‘face’ of our industry.”
Even at an early age, Ken Field was fascinated with printing and would watch his father install Miehle presses. By 16, he got his first job as an errand boy at a downtown sheetfed company and was hooked. “I was indoctrinated at a very early age. All I ever knew was that I wanted to be a printer,” he notes.
Field’s wife of 40 years, Diane, was the driving force behind him launching his own company. He founded Continental in 1973, and Diane has served as the company’s executive vice president and treasurer from day one, managing the company’s finances and day-to-day business operations.
With just a 2,000-square-foot facility and a used two-color web press, Field was in business. He moved to a much larger facility just nine months later, installing more equipment. Even though many of the larger printers were pulling out of the area, staying in the Chicago vicinity was the best business decision Field says he ever made.
“Back then, people kept asking me why I was putting a printing plant here when other companies were moving out. I just kept telling them that we were set to be what I dubbed ‘the centrally located home of fine web printing,’ ” he explains.
Field moved his company in 1978 to its current 225,000-square-foot facility on 15 acres of land. And, in 1995, Continental expanded again by opening a 220,000-square-foot plant on 25 acres of land in Walton, KY. The printer also maintains a sales office in New York.
Today, the privately held company reports $80+ million in annual sales, boasts 425 employees and keeps nine web presses running six days a week.
Over the years, Continental has received numerous accolades, such as Gold Ink, Benny, WOA and PIANKO awards for printing excellence; Media Networks/Time Inc. Printer of the Year; Carlson Marketing Group’s Outstanding Key Supplier Award; and the Grainger Customer Focused Quality Award. Field himself was a 1993 inductee into the PRINTING IMPRESSIONS/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame, named a “Good Scout” by the Boy Scouts of America and a 2005 Luminaire Award recipient.
He has also found time to give back to the industry that he is so passionate about. He has supported and served in executive roles within numerous industry organizations, including the PIA/GATF Web Offset Section, the NAPL and the GCA, among many others. PI