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Women in Printing -- Female Perspectives

May 2004
by chris bauer

Managing Editor

It's no secret that the commercial printing industry has traditionally been a male-dominated field. For generations, printing companies have been handed down from father to son; pressrooms filled with "pressmen." Women running presses were seen as a novelty; a female in the company boardroom was a rarity.

Well, times have changed.

Women are taking a larger role in the graphic arts industry. It is no longer a shock to find a female's name in the top spot of a printing organization (for example, Stephanie Streeter at Banta Corp.). Walk around an industry trade show and you will see women making decisions on capital expenditures. Look inside a graphic arts classroom and you will find faces of both genders.

At the Government Printing Office (GPO), for example, the number of women executives has jumped from a total of 15 in 2003 to 26 in 2004—an increase of 73 percent in a matter of months.

Printing Impressions spoke with several female printing executives to get their take on opportunities for women in the graphic arts industry and to find out how they got their start.

Denise Spalding and Jennifer Eberle, Allegra Print & Imaging-East

Youthful exuberance and a knowledge of printing from part-time work during their college years led Jennifer Eberle and Denise Spalding down the path to purchasing their own company. The duo acquired their Allegra Print & Imaging location in Louisville, KY, 12 years ago, when they were 24 and 29 years old, respectively.

After both women graduated from the University of Louisville, with degrees in business management and marketing, Spalding became general manager of a local multi-location printing operation and Eberle took the role of sales manager. The two soon decided they wanted to own a company for themselves, but the route was not an easy one.

Banks were not eager to lend money to two women in their 20s, so Spalding, now company president, and Eberle, now vice president, had to come up with other ways to finance the purchase—including borrowing money from family members for working capital, depleting savings accounts, taking second mortgages on their homes and received financing from the original owners of the business, who saw potential in these two young women.

"As partners, we paid off our debt in seven years—three years earlier than expected," Spalding proudly remarks. "In fact, the banks that once wouldn't take us seriously are now pursuing us."

From the beginning, being young and female affected Spalding and Eberle's ability to utilize conventional financing, they note. Had it not been for the faith the previous owners had in their ability to turn the business around, they admit Allegra Print & Imaging-East probably wouldn't be in business.
 

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