2004 HALL OF FAME John Bell -- Ethics Really Matter
Ovid Bell was the secretary to Bland and had high political aspirations himself. So when Bland's presidential bid failed and the candidate passed on, Ovid Bell's future in politics slipped away, as well. Ovid's father pulled some strings and landed him a newspaper job and, shortly after the turn of the century, the younger Bell bought one of the community's two newspapers. But Ovid soon saw a brighter future in printing publications for outside concerns, so he sold the paper and formed The Ovid Bell Press in 1924.
Eighty years later, John Bell finds himself at the helm of a staunch family tradition. During his youth, though, Bell didn't view commercial printing in terms of being his destiny.
Can't Fight History
"I rebelled against it," he recalls. "My plan was to travel to South America. I started working in earnest after school to get together enough money so I could go out and seek my fortune. Here I am, 31 years later, and I still haven't gotten the money together to go anywhere," he quips.
There was probably no escaping the commercial printing industry anyway; the day Bell entered the world, his older sister went around town announcing "John Ovid Bell Press had been born." But it would be 14 years before Bell would work alongside his father, Ovid H., cleaning the space bands on the Linotype machines.
After the desire to find riches in South America subsided, Bell nonetheless found himself challenged upon joining the family business in 1973. It soon became clear that The Ovid Bell Press was in need of more advanced equipment.
"It was an interesting and exciting challenge, making the transition from being a two-color flatbed letterpress printer to a viable sheetfed offset printer and, ultimately, a web printer," he says. "In my early years, I was pounding the pavement trying to sell flatbed letterpress printing, but no one wanted to buy that. I quickly recognized where we needed to go, but didn't have the capital reserves to make the transition."