“There is a Printerverse” was my very first Print Media Centr column. Look at me then: full of wonder at how the knowledge, technologies, interests, events, and organizations shared among ink-sniffers formed a culture and a “Printerverse.” Can you believe we were ever that young?
As I write this, I’m on a pre-summer business and friendship tour that has included several days in North Carolina and Georgia. I got a chance to meet with an old prospect turned friend turned new prospect and I chatted with a few people about work I’m doing around augmented reality (AR).
While I was in North Carolina, I visited a friend I hadn’t seen since our days attending Seton Hall University. He had moved to NC from our home state of New Jersey after school. Today, the most obvious fact about him is that he lives a beautiful life with his wife and two children, but I still think of him as one of the illest emcees on campus. He still has bars, if you’re wondering.
Why am I telling you this?
He had worked as a printer! This was my first time seeing a familiar face in the Printerverse. It was like two Federation ships finding each other in the Delta Quadrant. Before I had shared anything with him about my time orbiting Print Media Centr, he brought me up to speed on his life and mentioned that his favorite job thus far had been his years at a printing company. It was like the Cosmos was playing a game. My old friend from college ciphers was of the Printerverse and had worked with presses, super-cool folds, binding, stitching, envelopes, brochures, and other things I don’t normally hear about from people with respectable sixteens.
He told me familiar stories. The printer had hired him because they were going through an extended busy stretch and needed help in the press room. After that period, he and his co-workers would often alternate between being hammered with a deluge of work or nearly twiddling their thumbs as jobs lightly drizzled in. Pardon my mixing metaphors like samples in vintage Bomb Squad tracks.
He had a great supervisor who maintained an open-door policy to help with troubleshooting, answering questions, and just staying connected. It also sounded like his supervisor would have felt at home at #PrintChat; my friend would regularly listen to him and another seasoned team member discussing different machines and substrates.
The environment was laid-back in some ways, but like my friend, everyone had a sense of urgency around getting each job done on time and to the satisfaction of their clients.
After a few years, the company shrank as clients bought less print and more digital media. Some former customers went under. Competitors were acquired or went out of business. Seeing where things were headed, my friend reconnected with a former employer outside of the printing industry and was fortunate to have a job lined up just as he and other team members were laid off.
While he has been working other jobs for a few years, he told me he would return to print if he could. But given that he loves job security and stability more than O.T. Genasis loves the CoCo, he’s uncertain he’ll find the opportunity to make that happen. He also said he would want to refresh his knowledge and skills. He feels like he is out of the loop and would want to retrain so that he could really contribute to the right organization.
I didn’t make any promises about results, but I told him I would be happy to solicit leads and ideas from our print and integrated marketing community.
For those of you who work at printing companies, or work closely with printers, what skills and knowledge would make a candidate an attractive hire in 2017? What would that individual need to know and be capable of in the years to come? Discuss the different paths and roles production workers and others might take in an organization.
And is anyone hiring in North Carolina?
Whether my friend is ultimately able to return to working in print professionally, it was fun to discover him among the colorful characters I’ve met during my voyage through the Printerverse. I’ll catch you next month.
Andy Solages connects people and organizations with technologies to improve professional experiences and business results. Andy is a monthly contributor to Print Media Centr’s News from The Printerverse and a regular participant in #PrintChat on Twitter.