2013 Hall of Fame : Frank Defino Sr. - Printing's Heavy Hitter
Once Defino sat in the captain's chair at Tukaiz, he developed a taste for cutting-edge technology. He took to doing lithographic plates and films for the trade in the 1960s. In the early '70s, he desperately wanted to purchase an electronic scanner, but had to wait until 1978. "We didn't have the bucks to do it, and Schawk ended up getting the first one," he notes.
As a trade shop, Tukaiz quickly latched on to cutting-edge technology for scans, retouching, film assembly and digital printing. He was able to jump on with the Crosfield Studio system, and was one of the first to purchase computer Light Speed software and a Quantel Paintbox. The Paintbox evolved from its use by the motion picture industry to litho applications such as performing cloning or retouching in real-time.
But it was his foray into digital printing, acquiring good friend Benny Landa's Indigo E-Print 1000—recognized by many as the world's first digital offset color printing press—that catapulted Defino and Tukaiz into rarefied air. "We were the first company in the Midwest and just the second one in the country to put in two digital presses," he says.
Not Afraid to Be on the Bleeding Edge
"I love technology," he admits. "If I think a development will have a bearing on the industry, I want to check into it. That's what an entrepreneur likes to do. But it can also present a lot of risk. Being someone who is ready to jump into something new, ready to be on the bleeding edge and sometimes disregard the risks...that may be the best entrepreneurial value I bring to the company."
It would be tough to find a bigger fan of Benny Landa outside of Defino, who always appreciated the lengths Landa went to trying to improve upon his equipment while still in the development or testing phases. Likewise, Landa has great admiration for the printer who bought into his digital printing concept on day one.