Johnson's World: Welcome (Back) to My World

Steve Johnson joins the Quick Printing's roster of columnists by reminiscing about his first encounter with the magazine in 1983.

October 1, 2011

My first introduction to Quick Printing magazine came in 1983. I had just started employment at a commercial printer, which was an interesting change for me after six years in a publisher’s in-plant shop.

In the middle of the office near the pressroom entrance stood a large mail rack with a slot for every office employee and every foreman. When stalwart printing magazines such as American Printer and Graphic Arts Monthly arrived there was a copy for just about everyone with a mailbox. I still wonder how thoroughly the feeder on the two-color Miller read those publications, but that is another story.

One fine day I spotted the secretary depositing a lone copy of Quick Printing in the mail slot of a customer service representative. The subscriber worked exclusively on point-of-purchase poster display campaigns for the hardware industry, which is about as far from quick printing as it gets.

When I asked him about it, the CSR, a man of few words, cryptically replied, “I like reading it. Here, read it yourself if you like. Just give it back when you are done.” He handed me the magazine.

I read it, cover to cover. I remember the publisher (long gone) bragging about his racehorse. One of the columnists boasted about his plane. These topics seemed a bit far afield for a printing magazine, but most of the topics were spot on.

The article that stands out in my mind was concerned with sales-per-employee ratio. Not a very sexy topic, and not one I’d ever seen covered in major printing periodicals. Don’t get me wrong—I’m as excited as the next guy to hear about Donnelly spending $300 million to open its new gravure plant in the Dominican Republic to print wallpaper, but I’m not sure what to do with this information. Send a congratulatory greeting card?

The sales-per-employee ratio was far less glamorous, but far more actionable. A quick calculation (easily made by dividing my new employer’s annual sales by the number of my coworkers) left me wondering if I’d made the right decision for my employment future.

It is that element of actionable information that has kept me a reader of Quick Printing magazine for 28 years.

In 1987 I opened Copresco (originally called Copies Overnight) using only digital equipment. Offset had been good to me, but I saw the future and it was digital.

I specifically recall that in the late 1980’s and early 90’s both the commercial trade press and the printing trade associations were extremely reticent about covering toner based devices. “That’s not real printing,” scoffed many an article.

I distinctly remember sitting in one session at a Printing Industries of America sponsored sales conference where the presenter asked menacingly, “How are you going to fight people with DocuTechs who are taking business away from you printers?”

“One of them is in this room!” chimed in a friendly competitor, with a wink in my direction. With friends like that, who needed enemies?

The quick printers had already been on board for 15 years, ever since Brother Dominic discovered the miracle of the Xerox 9200 copier. Copier, laser, direct image, offset…quick printers didn’t seem to worry about semantics as long as the job got done—and done profitably. Quick Printing had the information I needed, while others were taking a wait-and-see attitude.

I’m proud to have been an editorial columnist for the last seven of American Printer magazine’s venerable 128 year life. Now I’m just as proud to bring Johnson’s World to the pages of Quick Printing magazine. For all of my readers, new and old alike, I look forward to sharing ideas, opinions, great thoughts, and humble tidbits.

Now, into action!

Steve Johnson is president of Copresco in Carol Stream, IL, a pioneer in digital printing technology and print on demand. Contact him at [email protected].