2012 Hall of Fame: Mike Graff - Answering Print's 911 Call
The G7 standard had its genesis at Sandy Alexander, in a sense. The printer served as an alpha site as part of The Manhattan Project (along with AGT and Applied Printing Technologies). Graff worked with ICC/G7 guru Don Hutcheson toward the goal of creating a set of "print appearance" standards. Hutcheson's Press2Proof custom gray scale calibration later became G7.
"I get to speak on the subject a lot. It's something that is near and dear to my heart," Graff says of the color management standard.
Responding to Adversity
Graff was named president and CEO of Sandy Alexander in 2008, but the timing was anything but fortuitous. The Great Recession was just beginning to take hold and, beyond that, fundamental changes were altering the way clients, and the general public, viewed the printed piece. Direct mail, in particular, began to take a beating.
Graff didn't rush into this burning building, but he didn't drag his feet, either. While the head count was reduced by 90, the company invested $9 million into the business at a time most printers resembled capex turtles.
"In 2008, I knew what the business plan needed to be," he says. "We moved very quickly. We equipped the sheetfed pressroom with fast-makeready equipment. We also knew that our web offset presses had to focus on shorter runs. We basically re-engineered the entire company, and now the plant is running at 40 percent higher efficiency than before in terms of hours run, impressions run, makeready times and waste factors."
With the litho business no longer boasting broad shoulders, Graff turned to customer surveys, face-to-face discussions and focus groups to get a better pulse of the marketplace. The result: Golden opportunities presented themselves in wide-format printing and retail graphics. A dedicated division serving these markets at Sandy Alexander is now celebrating its second anniversary. The company's digital printing division was also completely revamped, and is growing by leaps and bounds.