Johnson's World: A Short Talk With A Printer

How do you represent yourself, your company, our vocation, and the printed word to the wider community?

June 1, 2015

You, dear reader, know me as Steve Johnson, sole owner, proprietor and humble denizen of "Johnson’s World." I am also the president of Copresco, digital on-demand printer of books, catalogs, manuals, and publications. You may also know me as an opinionated cuss, but how much do you really know about the man whose words fill the last page of this publication each month?

Below is an interview I recently gave. Listen in, and see how I represent myself, my company, our vocation, and the printed word to the wider community.

Q: To begin, tell us something yourself, such as your age and your family.

I’m 53. I have four children: Jason, Cyrus, Roxane, and Nalani. Plus, a couple of former foster children. Lots of grandchildren. Plus, a dozen former exchange students scattered around the world, which makes vacation travel a blast.

Q: What’s new at your company?

In the past two years we've replaced all six of our digital printing presses with new models to keep up with technology and production demands. Some people think print is standing still, but in reality it is moving at the speed of light so keeping up is a never-ending process.

Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

Yes, this year we are adding more equipment to our bindery department to catch up with our recent capital improvements in our press department. Unlike e-books or e-publications there are many unique functions that can be added to printed books, catalogs and publications. Many of these features involve binding techniques so we want to offer our customers whatever they need to best communicate with their readers.

Q: What will your company’s main challenges be in the next year?

The exciting challenge is keep the public enlightened as to the superior communication properties of the printed word. Some folks become enthralled with electronic communication options that are sadly never read or even opened. Study after study proves the intrinsic value of print for communication, information, edification, and education.

An example would be school districts and colleges jumping on the e-textbook and tablet bandwagon, when in fact students learn significantly better from printed texts and prefer them as well. This isn't just a matter of scoring more business; the quality of our children's education hangs in the balance.

Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie CEO, what would it be?

Integrity. Maintain your integrity. You can always rebuild your business or your career; it is much harder to rebuild your reputation.

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

Quality. At a profit if possible, at a loss if necessary, but quality always.

Many think that technology has replaced craftsmanship and that quality is old-fashioned. In fact, technology properly harnessed is the greatest tool the craftsman has ever had. If you can't take pride in your work, why do it?

Q: From a business outlook, who do you look up to?

I will always admire my first few bosses who took the time to share their vast knowledge of business with me. Likewise the leaders both in industry and our local community who saw the worth of passing their values on to upstart kids like me. My father and my uncle are both local businessmen, and I learned from their examples: their mistakes as well as their successes.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

I love to bicycle. I try to spend several weeks each year bicycle touring.

I read voraciously. I enjoy live music and live theatre; I probably see about 30 plays each year and as many concerts.

Q: What book is on your nightstand right now?

I'm reading Words Onscreen by Naomi Baron.

Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?

May I say that naming rights for venues unrelated to our core business seem more like ego indulgence than sound marketing? Rather than a sports venue I'd much prefer to see our name on something that pertains to our mission and serves society as well. How about "The Copresco Public Library?" Hmmm, perhaps I should look into this ...

Q: What is one funny thing that has happened to you in your career?

When I was learning my trade as a teenager, I declared I would never start my own company. I was happy to leave such headaches to others. I only moved out on my own because no one else was willing to implement the ideas I had. Years later my last employer was sitting in my office, asking for my advice about moving into digital printing. You just never know what the future will bring.