Twenty-one million twenty-four thousand minutes; 350,400 hours; 14,600 days; 480 months. Forty years in printing and converting machinery sales and service and industry association management.
On June 1, it will be 40 years to the day that I walked through the doors of BOBST Inc. for what I thought would be a short stint at the long-established machine manufacturer. I was armed with a newly minted degree in city and county planning, a field in which the job market was tight at the time but sure to explode soon, and then I could get on with my life.
I spent 32 years at BOBST. Then, a comparatively short 2½ years at Goss International. Now, I’m deep into year five at AICC.
Many of you know the happenstance that got me to BOBST. A question at a neighborhood picnic from a family friend as to how my job search was going: “Why don’t you interview with my company? We have an entry-level position. You have to do something.” That family friend was the late Chuck Krueger, BOBST’s vice president of sales.
Sure, the journey is somewhat about the where, but more importantly it’s about the experiences, and that means the people. This point was driven home by my sitting in on the taping sessions of the AICC podcast series, Breaking Down Boxes. AICC Chair Gene Marino and AICC Associate Committee Chair Joe Morelli have been doing a wonderful job interviewing industry leaders who have shared their stories about the successes and failures that have gotten them to where they are. AICC releases new episodes the first Monday of each month. If you haven’t listened to one, you should, and then listen to them all. You can access Breaking Down Boxes at any number of podcast-streaming applications.
The point is the fragility of the experience. The fine line between success and failure. The pure chance of getting started and of being in the industry or not. Or staying in it. The people who have mentored and helped you along the way—your network, your friends, your peers. Those who have motivated you and, yes, those who perhaps stood in your way or discouraged you.
I’ve been very fortunate to have had the experiences that I’ve had. I’ve worked for first-class organizations, and I have traveled broadly in North America and the world. I have been in scores of corrugated, folding carton, rigid box, flexible packaging, newspaper, and publication plants. I’m still waiting to have the government mistakenly kick in my door in the middle of the night because I had to be fingerprinted to get into the Social Security check printing plant in Beckley, West Virginia.
I know that many of my accomplishments are well earned. But many of those accomplishments became possible because people took a chance on me. In the last issue of BoxScore, I paid tribute to the late Dick Grey. If he hadn’t spoken up for me at BOBST, I may have ultimately made that move into city and county planning and been a bureaucrat my entire career. If Philippe Michel had not tapped me to lead a business unit at BOBST, who knows where my path would have led me? Same for Greg Tucker, Mark Williams, Tony Schleich, and Steve Young for the AICC experience I am currently enjoying.
I know many of your stories and journeys, so I know that mine is neither special nor unique in the big picture. But each pixel of that big picture is cherished by me, even more so in this milestone year of service to this wonderful industry.
So many of you have been so good to me with your time, your knowledge, your hospitality, and your counsel.