WHILE A student at American University in Washington, DC, Jim Andersen taught swimming on the side to youngsters at Kenwood Country Club in nearby Bethesda, MD. Little did Andersen realize at the time that the father of two students would soon alter his career path. Andersen was only 20, an impressionable age. Here was this other man with a great wife and kids, at a country club, not all that much older than Andersen, yet apparently very successful as a printing executive.
“Here’s a guy in his early 30s, pretty darn successful,” Andersen recalls of the parent. “I’m saying to myself, what the heck is printing? It opened my eyes considerably.”
The man who seemed to have it all? Fellow Hall of Fame inductee Jim Mayes. “What an advocate for the industry,” notes Andersen of Mayes. “He helped navigate the start of my career.”
And so it can be said that greatness also recognizes greatness. Mayes introduced Andersen to the world of printing, and soon Andersen abandoned his initial plan of attending law school. The choice started Andersen down the path that ultimately led him to guide one of the industry’s leading direct marketing printers and become one of the mailing industry’s greatest allies.
Andersen, the president and CEO of Chanhassen, MN-based IWCO Direct, also takes his rightful place beside Mayes as a member of the 2008 Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame induction class.
The printing industry has easily been a nice fit for Andersen, whose guidance and transformation of IWCO Direct has enabled the company to grow from a $90-million-a-year business to $280 million. Equally as impressive: The growth has been 100 percent organic.
From the graphic arts side, Andersen is perhaps the most prolific figure in print and mail circles. He championed the postal reform efforts to help modernize the USPS’ 30-year-old business practices, and eagerly met with politicians and other key officials to underscore the need for a healthy postal system, whose fortunes impact not just printing, but other industries, as well.