PRINTERS' PASTIMES -- Outside the Lines
BY CHRIS BAUER
The trade press covering the printing industry, (Printing Impressions included) makes a lot of noise about converting to digital workflows, M&A winners and losers, and keeping a healthy bottom line in these trying economic times.
While this can be interesting and important from a business standpoint, the graphic arts industry is a huge employer, with many different personalities who have varied and unique interests outside of the printing world.
It is time their stories were told. PI found graphic arts executives with interesting pastimes to see how some people in the industry spend their time on weekends and after they leave their plants.
Midtown Printing & Graphics
Wayne Womack has been in the printing business all of his life. His parents started Lubbock, TX-based Pioneer Printing & Litho, a small offset shop, in 1958. Womack took over the business in the '90s with his parents still working as their hobby.
In 2001 he decided, like a lot of other small shops, that to continue to grow the business he would have to invest major capital to keep up with new technology. So he chose to merge the business.
Womack formed a partnership with John and Patty Frullo at Midtown Printing & Graphics, also in Lubbock. They had made an investment in a five-color, 14x20˝, direct-to-press Heidelberg GTO.
"My main attention is sales these days, leaving behind some of the jack-of-all-trades that a small owner must do to stay competitive," Womack explains.
This story is a common one in today's printing industry. Where things get interesting is outside of his profession.
Wayne Womack, of Midtown Printing & Graphics, tends to some of his herd of longhorn steer.
About 15 years ago, Womack, his wife Betty, sons Kevin and Dennis, and daughter Janet bought a small mixed herd of cattle. There was one longhorn female in the bunch, he recalls.
"We got to enjoying her calves so much we started looking more in-depth into the breed. We discovered that longhorn cattle have as much as three times the life expectancy of most breeds."
Womack did some quick math and realized that this equates to more offspring to sell. Longhorn steers also have such small birth weight calves, that they rarely ever have problems at calving time, he says.
"That suited us well so as not to give up our day jobs," Womack relates. The family has had as many as 50 head of longhorn steer at one time, but with Texas drought conditions in the past few years, the herd has been kept down to 20 to 30 head. Womack has formed a co-op with another breeder and has been artificially inseminating the cows for the last three years.
"That allows us to utilize a more diverse breeding program than we could afford ourselves," he points out. "We not only raise steers, but heifers and bulls also. The steer is what draws the most attention. He puts all his attention into growing horns, not chasing girls."
Together, the co-op has approximately 500 acres of improved grass land and crops grown for feed. An aggressive pasture rotation system of grazing has been implemented. Womack actively shows the cattle at stock and long-breed shows. The ranch also supports local and national youth activities.
There are some other benefits to owning the longhorn herd, Womack says.
"Longhorn beef has been USDA-lab certified to be higher in protein and lower in fat and cholesterol than skinless chicken," Womack notes. "We have clientele who are able to buy our beef after the doctor has taken them off red meat following a heart attack."
Complete Printing & Graphics
Tony Khoury is a good example of a printer who knows he can't live ink and paper 24 hours a day. Although printing is his chosen profession, he has more than ink running through his veins; there is some high-octane fuel in him, as well.
"I've wanted to race as long as I can remember," Khoury explains. "(But) growing up in Louisiana, there wasn't much access to motor sports—except the (Indianapolis) 500 on Memorial Day."
Tony Khoury (far left), president of Complete Printing & Graphics, was part of the pit crew for race car driver Davey Hamilton at the 2001 Indy 500.
Khoury, president of Complete Printing & Graphics in Addison, TX, started his business in 1992. In 1994, he enrolled in the Skip Barber Racing School in Sebring, FL. That, he recalls, was his first visit to a track with real history.
"I would arrive each morning before anyone else and walk the track in the Florida fog, and think about all the great racers who competed on the patch of asphalt where I was standing," recounts Khoury. "During the school, I was much faster than any of the other students and quickly gained the attention of the instructors—good and bad."
By 1997 he had saved enough for his first car—a Spec Racer Ford. He used it to race in the Sports Car Club of America club series. His first season he finished ninth in points out of 29 drivers in the Southwest division, with two third places and a pole.
"The next year I moved to Formula Mazda and was fourth in points and the highest rated rookie until funds started running low," Khoury reveals. "Some of the people that I met through my short time as a driver were trying to get an Indy deal going and needed some help. After all of the driver shuffling, I ended up as a tire changer in 2000 for Davey Hamilton for the whole racing season."
Although Khoury decided to put his total focus back on Complete Printing for 2001, he was talked in to doing the Indy 500 and the first Texas race with Jaques Lazier.
Khoury points to his employees as a reason he has been able to live out his dreams on the race track. "It's the great team of people that I'm fortunate to have working for me that allows me the time to hang out with the race team," he says. "It's always our printing team first, though."
Since his 'retirement' from racing, Khoury has fueled his need for speed by purchasing a 1989 Harley Davidson motorcycle and has done a frame-up restoration. This does have a tie-in with printing, he notes.
"Since my background is graphic design, I've used this project for a little self-expression—and no, I'm not getting a tattoo," he laughs.
A love of music formed a life-long obsession for Case Paper's Louis Bernstein. From an early age, Bernstein started amassing a collection of vintage drums—more than 100 in total—with some instruments dating back to the 1800s.
"I have been collecting since I was 12," he points out. "My father, who is a jazz pianist, took me to see Buddy Rich. After seeing him, I wanted to collect everything of his, which included drums."
Bernstein now has a large collection of Buddy Rich items, including equipment, records, videos, live audio tapes, magazines and articles.
Case Paper's Louis Bernstein bangs out a tune as he shows off his extensive drum collection.
But the drum collection is what really gets noticed. It has been featured on vintage drum book covers, as well as in magazine articles. A few years ago, National Public Radio came to see the collection and interview Bernstein. The piece was featured on Scott Simon's "Weekend Edition."
Some of the drums in his collection have been owned by such famous names as Mel Torme, Gene Krupa and, of course, Buddy Rich.
Bernstein reports he played the drums all through junior high and high school, as well as in college. "I played a lot of Jazz—as well as my share of weddings and Bar Mitzvahs—to earn money," he notes.
After college, while looking for a job, he met the president of G.B. Goldman Paper Co., and soon thereafter took a job as a sales trainee. Bernstein moved up to sales manager, and then to vice president.
In October of 2000, the company decided to close the sales and management department in Philadelphia, and run all of it through its Texas division. Bernstein then made a move to Philadelphia-based Case Paper, where he was hired as manager of the Case Access Group.
Mercury Print Productions
John Place's career in the printing industry began in 1979 when he joined his mother, Valerie, at what was then called Mercury Forms. He started out at the Rochester, NY-based company as an artist, and soon was running all of the equipment including the presses, when necessary.
Now known as Mercury Print Productions, the company has since grown into a reputable, high-end sheetfed offset printer, occupying a 72,000-square-foot facility, and employing more than 190 people with an active client list of over 450 customers locally and abroad.
Mercury Print Productions President John Place doesn't play around when it comes to his antique toy collection.
Place, now president of Mercury Print Productions, has an unusual interest outside of the work environment. He has amassed an extensive collection of antique toys and signs. According to Place, he has another family member to thank for this hobby.
"I became interested in antique toys when my uncle took me to my first auction in 1991," Place recalls. "I loved how the toys from the 1920s were constructed."
Place says he quickly fell in love with old Gas Station Petroliana. This led to the purchase of a 1910 Texaco "Rest Room" and Texaco "Marina" sign. Since then, Place has been an avid collector. Over the past decade, he has dedicated his spare time to acquiring more than 800 toys and 300 signs.
"The rarest piece in my collection is a 1920 "Buddy L" that I bought at an auction," Place says with pride.
As proud as he may be of his rare toy and sign collection, Place's dedication always comes back to Mercury Print Productions. He points out that the company's capabilities range from black-and-white to high-end, full-color printing. "We have the largest in-house bindery of any printer in upstate New York and a complete on-demand area," he boasts.
Unlike his hobby, Place's company doesn't play around.
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