HOF 05 Surviving Day by Day -- Donald Samuels
The company came into the Samuels family by way of the Great Depression. His grandfather, Harry Samuels, loaned money to a struggling printer. When that printer was unable to pay back the money to Samuels, he instead handed Samuels the reins of the printing shop. Debt paid in full.
It took a little luck for the shop to stay afloat in the early years. The biggest shot in the arm for Harry Samuels came when a business acquaintance inquired as to what type of work the printing shop would take in, for his company was starting a line of magazines. The man in need of a magazine printer was none other than Henry Luce, the co-founder of Time magazine.
"(Luce) told my grandfather, 'I can give you plenty of business,' " Samuels remarks. "Basically, from 1938 to 1953, Time Inc. was our only client. We sort of grew out of adversity and challenges."
Samuels vividly recalls making sales visits at Time Inc. with his father during school breaks as a youngster. It was an entirely different business culture, one lacking the formality of today's pacts. Business was done with handshakes, as opposed to lawyers, according to Samuels.
"It was a different world, a different environment, much more of a humanistic point of view than a purely professional point of view," he says.
Following Printing's Path
It was during those formative years that Samuels decided to follow in the career footsteps of his father and grandfather. The idea of going into real estate or becoming a Wall Street financial tycoon was lost on him. The only choice, in his mind, was a career in printing and a place in the family business.
Samuels chose the right path to that means, enrolling in the Rochester Institute of Technology. He attained an undergraduate degree there and enrolled in its business school. But something happened en route to that MBA.