2007 Printing Industry Hall of Fame — Building a Golden Dome - Tim Poole
FROM THE time he was a young man, Tim Poole wanted to be in the position to make a difference in a printing company. That he loves every aspect of printing—from planning to manufacturing and distribution—and has worked down in the trenches himself makes him an ideal candidate to be a leader.
“Some of my greatest enjoyment comes out of watching people around me succeed,” says Poole, 48, president of Dome Printing in Sacramento, CA, and a 2007 inductee into the Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame. “I challenge our people to maximize efficiency and deliver a high-quality product. There’s a level of respect on the floor; they know that I’ve been there in their position. They know I’m going to provide an insight about what I can do or offer to make their job better.”
Tim Poole is one of three brothers, along with Bob and Andy, who have helped guide Dome Printing, a general commercial printer that also specializes in direct mail and publications. The Northern California printer boasted sales of more than $33 million in 2006, a 22 percent increase over the previous year, and is also projecting healthy growth for 2007.
Poole almost didn’t make it into the family business, as the unpredictabilities of life made the path to printing anything but clear and straight. His parents divorced when he was very young; his father, Ray, stayed in Sacramento, where he would purchase Dome Printing in 1969. His mother set up home much further east, in York, PA. Tim Poole lived with his mother and spent one month each summer with his father.
It was during those month-long visits as a young teen that Poole got his first taste of printing. A pressman at Dome taught him how to operate an ATF Chief Multilith, which began his fascination with the full gamut of the printing process. Though he was just 15, Poole started to envision a future for himself.
“I was enrolled in a vocational school,” he says. “My mom had five kids, and my dad married into a large family. College was never really an option and, since I was a hard-working guy, I saw vocational school as my way into the work world.”
After the unofficial internship on the ATF Chief, Poole switched his vocational studies from electronics to printing. (“I liked taking components apart and putting them back together.”) After graduating from high school, Poole’s father asked him to join Dome Printing. Hesitant at first, a series of personal setbacks prompted him to pack up and head West in search of a career in the graphic arts.
When Poole first joined Dome in 1979, the company was generating only about $400,000 in annual revenues. While Ray Poole was comfortable with the size of the company, his son wanted to build an infrastructure that would support much more capacity. Together they bolstered Dome’s press arsenal within a five-year period.
“My Father Taught Me...”
Poole credits his father for guiding his print education. “I had aspirations to attend Cal Poly, so I could learn the business side and learn more about printing,” Poole says. “His [father’s] reaction was, ‘I’ll teach you everything you need to know.’ That was the foundation for my learning. I also had some incredible mentors, like Wallace Stettinius at Cadmus Communications. Along the way, I learned the value of networking. I have met some very good people with whom I’ve stayed in touch with over the years.”
He is also thankful of the opportunity Ray Poole provided in allowing him to assume a critical role at Dome Printing as a young man. It was certainly an investment that paid big dividends.
“He made sure that I had the tools to learn, and the opportunities to go places and do things at a young age,” Poole says of his father. “He afforded me the opportunity that other people might not have gotten. I was 21 and already going to trade shows to learn about new equipment. My father did a great job of making sure he had a good succession plan in place.”
Poole has enjoyed the challenge of creating a culture within the company, bridging differing talents and philosophies. Though it can be tough at times, leading Dome Printing has essentially been the only full-time position Poole has known in his professional career.
Dan Nelson, president of the Printing Industries of Northern California (PINC), notes that Poole and Dome Printing have always enjoyed high visibility, and not just among the Sacramento business community. He also feels Poole has been critical to the success of PINC over the past 10 years.
“He’s a straight shooter and a positive contributor,” Nelson says of Poole. “Tim’s company is a testament to his way of thinking. They were among the first printers to adopt a computer-to-plate workflow. And he’s the first to admit when he makes a mistake. I remember touring Dome’s plant when Tim pointed to a machine and said, ‘I learned from that mistake.’ Not too many printers would say that.
“The way the Poole brothers work together is phenomenal. Each one knows his role in the process, and it really works for them.”
Steve Hayes has known Tim Poole for about 10 years, primarily through their association within the Print America peer group. Hayes sees Poole as a grounded person, despite the immense success of Dome Printing. Like Nelson, Hayes is struck by Poole’s penchant for being bluntly honest.
“Tim’s a very sharp individual who grew in the business from the ground up,” Hayes says. “His knowledge of the equipment has been beneficial in managing a very successful company. Tim has a unique ability to analyze new technology and techniques that he’ll apply to the customer base to see if there’s value for them. He’s not only a colleague, but a great friend; that has great value to me.”
Poole has been active with PINC; he became the association’s new chairman as of August 1 and has held a position with the board of directors since 1998. He’s spent four years on the NAPL’s board of directors and a number of their advisory committees, and has spoken at numerous industry conferences. Additionally, Poole served as president of the Print America peer group in 2001 and 2002.
Since he’s spent the last 30 years in California, it’s not surprising that most of Poole’s pastime activities include water. He enjoys Abalone diving, as well as scuba diving in hot spots such as Hawaii and Mexico. He particularly enjoys spending time on his horse ranch with his wife of 25 years, Stefanie, and their two Chihuahuas. Poole also enjoys playing host to family and friends.
“I’m very active. I’ve always believed that you have to play as hard as you work,” he says. “I’m not one to just lay on the beach.” PI
Related story: Poole PI/RIT Hall of Fame Speech