A Little Personal History
So I thought I would talk a little bit about my history and compare it a bit to where we are in today’s world. I started out in the industry as a field technician. First, walking the streets of lower Manhattan as a Pitney Bowes technician (which was better then going to the gym), then covering much of New York State as a labeling machine tech for Cheshire, which was part of Xerox.
Later on, I received offers to work in print finishing. So I maintained the mailing and folding equipment for a “boutique” New York City letterpress printer, then became plant manager for a New York direct mailer. All of the jobs required a lot of physical work — from literally sweeping the floors, to conditioning paper lifts, to heaving mail bags (remember them?) onto pallets and even driving the truck down the the Church Street P.O. fully loaded with mail. I also did a lot of machine repair because, in a small operation, you do whatever is necessary to keep jobs on schedule.
Most people think of this a “drudge” work. Repetitive, manual labor. But there is an art, and even some beauty, to doing even the simplest tasks correctly. This appears to be something that’s lost to the current generation, which has created something of a crisis in today’s print finishing operations. I hear from printing firms that are having trouble recruiting, and (more importantly) retaining labor for print finishing. This is the primary driver for more automation. The more operations (make ready, adjustments) the machine can do, the better.
And I can understand the drivers behind where we are today. People want a more sophisticated work environment, where thinking and problem solving constitute the the majority of the work performed in a given day. Manufacturers recognize this also, and (thankfully) have proven themselves up to the challenge.