2009 Printing Industry Hall of Fame : A Forward ThinkerSeptember 2009 By Erik Cagle
WHAT LESSONS can be gleaned from working at a 150-year-old business? First and foremost, where you've been is not nearly as important as where you're going. Secondly, there is no room for loyalty and tradition when it comes to products and services, which have a tendency to come and go from the business landscape.
In fact, no plan may be the best approach for some people, which certainly worked out well for Steve Hayes, CEO of Omaha Print in Omaha, NE. Hayes, who never had designs on becoming a printer, actually cut his teeth in the office supply division, wasn't really into the idea of joining the family business, nor did he have "a real passion" for the printing aspect of Omaha Print.
Yet, it was Hayes who made some of the company's most critical decisions, severing ties with the office furniture division as superstores Staples and Office Depot emerged. He looked to the 40˝ sheetfed offset arena but, when that market started to change, Hayes turned to web printing.
Hayes, 60, may not be one of those guardians of the printed world who claims to have ink in his veins or under his fingernails. But, as the steward of one of the industry's oldest continuously running printing establishments, he is very worthy of being honored as a 2009 Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame inductee.
And for a company whose first dollar was earned during the Buchanan Administration, a debt of gratitude is owed to the man for taking measures that would increase its chances of surviving to its 200th anniversary, and perhaps beyond.
Hayes grew up in Omaha, but spent many a weekend and summer on his grandparents' farms out in the country. It was a golden age when young boys played sports that matched the seasons: baseball in the summer, football in fall, basketball in winter and golf in the spring.
"We traveled as far as our bikes would take us," he recalls. "You were lucky to have a car and nobody had two. You mostly took the street car or the bus. Everything was located within a two-block area, and that's where we stuck around."
Hayes' earliest memories in relation to printing include watching a parade in downtown Omaha; passing through the fourth floor pressroom to enjoy a bird's eye view of the festivities. But printing as a career...well, Hayes never ruled it out, but he didn't give it much consideration. In fact, he hadn't given any vocation much thought at all. Sure, the idea of law school was intriguing, but after attending the University of Northern Colorado (on a football scholarship; the team went undefeated in 1969), Hayes was ready to go to work.