Bits and Pieces: Ripon Printers Will Miss Deba
One of my favorite pen/email pals in the printing industry hung up her loupe and X-ACTO knife May 15 after more than 40 years on the job. You don’t know her personally, but she can be found at any successful printing company.
Deba Horn-Prochno, quality/resource manager for Ripon Printers, joined the company 13 days after taking her final exam at Ripon College. The date was Jan. 1, 1974. Richard Nixon was still president, but not for long. The hottest technology of the year was the pocket calculator. Eric Clapton was singing “I Shot the Sheriff” and a great new TV show, “Happy Days,” would premier later in January. “Blazing Saddles” hit movie theaters. The Dolphins won Super Bowl VIII, the Oakland A’s captured their third consecutive World Series title and Hank Aaron became the new home run king.
Where does time go?
Deba enjoyed a long career that saw her performing a variety of roles, including customer service work, ad layout/design, assistant production manager and second/third shift manager. Early on, she would take on a cornucopia of assignments—jogging off press, binders; inserting newspaper flyers; pasteup; even delivering the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse student newspaper on Thursday mornings.
Printing’s Fountain of Wisdom
Over the course of the past 15 or so years, Deba has been a tremendous resource to me for information and perspective about the printing industry—not all of which I could share with readers, but it certainly aided my knowledge. She has an unflinching eye for quality and knows her craft. Deba was always patient and understanding when it came to answering some of my dumber questions, which is a testament to her good-natured demeanor and my stupidity.
Though we never met in person, we communicated exclusively by email. Most of the time, we would write about the Packers, Brett Favre, the Brewers or family. I came to see her as a real friend. Although she was hundreds of miles away in Wisconsin, I feel as if I’ve known her all my life. And I’m better for all the laughs she brought to my day. Thanks Deba!
But don’t just take my word for it. Ask Dennis Darnick, vice president of production, who has worked with Deba for 40 years.
“She has always been a go-to person when it comes to creative thinking, knowledge of the industry and the inner workings of Ripon Printers,” Darnick says. “When I introduced Deba to new employees or customers and described her role, I always added that Deba has forgotten more about printing than I will ever know. Deba has truly been an asset to Ripon Printers and we will miss her experience, expertise and guidance.”
Andy Lyke, president of Ripon Printers, notes that Deba was born the day his parents were married. He finds that appropriate, “as without Deba, there’s no way we at Ripon Printers could have achieved the success we’ve had over the years.”
The aforementioned duties aside, Lyke points out that Deba has also been the company’s point person for selecting entries for printing competitions and has been the printer’s historian through the years. “She has seen the transition from our old Agfa equipment to CTP, and has had a hand in the upgrades in our processes and equipment throughout the time she’s been here,” he says. “I’ve appreciated Deba’s willingness to share her thoughts and help us make good decisions. We’ve relied on her deep knowledge of the printing process to guide us on how to produce numerous projects over the years.”
Still, everyone’s smile sparkles in the sunshine. It is how we deal with adversity and troubleshoot problems that is an accurate barometer of our worth...a measure that Deba passed with flying colors. “It’s been educational for me to watch Deba in action as she plays detective to figure out why a project turned out the way it did,” Lyke notes.
This tribute to Deba is twofold: selfish motivation to recognize a great industry friend, and wanting to underscore the importance of acknowledging employees. It’s a trite observation, but printers really distinguish themselves from the pack due to people like Deba. These folks go the extra mile, performing tasks that cannot be found in any job description. They are the glue of the production floor and the reason that customers keep coming back.
Anyone can buy a press but, unfortunately, Most Valuable Players don’t come around all that often. Deba leaves some huge shoes to fill. You don’t have to remind Andy Lyke of that fact.
“With Deba’s departure, we have lost the smartest person in the room,” he says.
Deba, congratulations, and I wish you and husband Keith the best of health and happiness in your retirement. Don’t be an e-stranger. PI