Incredibly, this is the fifth Big Associate Issue of BoxScore. This showcase of AICC supplier members is an annual reminder of the value that they bring to boxmakers, the industry, and your Association. I always use the phrase “trusted partners” when it comes to AICC Associate members. I see that trust on display virtually every day. The close bond among members is one of the things that makes AICC special.
Our great industry is great because of the many talented individuals it has and how generous they are with their gifts.
We lost one of those great ones on October 28. On that day, my friend Richard Grey passed away after a long illness. Many of you may recognize that name. Dick had worked for several companies in the industry: Federal Paper Board, Bobst, Enkel, Stevens International, Hycorr, and Langston. Upon leaving the industry, Dick purchased and grew a successful manufacturing company in western North Carolina.
I know for a fact that Dick Grey touched many lives. Dick was my first mentor and my most treasured. Working closely with him led me to become nonformulaic, agile with my expectations, fearless, trusting in others, and to have fun in everything.
Two weeks after graduating from college, as a newly hired sales administrator at what was then Bobst Inc. in Roseland, New Jersey, I began to work with Dick preparing proposals, writing contracts, and providing excellent customer service. I learned the business of rotogravure printing from Dick. Because “there’s nothing to learn in the office,” I traveled with Dick to exotic locations such as St. Albans, Vermont; Warsaw, Indiana; Clinton, South Carolina; Rogersville, Tennessee; Murphysboro, Illinois; Brownwood, Texas; and many places in between. I spent time in printing plants, met with company owners and press operators, and watched an excellent salesman ply his craft.
One day, Dick came into my office and asked me to follow him. We went to the office of the president of Bobst. “Mike is wasting his time as a sales administrator. Let’s give him a sales territory. He’s ready,” Dick said. The reply: “Bobst has never had a salesman that young.”
At the age of 24, I was on my way. There was no formal training program. Sitting in the office with Dick, occasionally traveling together (after ceding some of the country to me, Dick had his own territory to cover). Industry association meetings and trade shows. On-the-job training. Building a network of lifelong friends and growing responsibilities as Bobst added products and markets.
At the time, I didn’t know that Dick was mentoring me. I didn’t know what mentoring was. But looking back, it was amazing, because I was learning from a friend and respected colleague. Steven Spielberg has said of mentoring, “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your image but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”
I got married to the wonderful Susan, and we built our first home in the town where Dick lived. He was the fire chief of the volunteer department in town. He and the department would come down and practice in our home as it was being framed and built. I started calling him “Chief,” although I never did accept his many invitations to join the department. Great pancake breakfast fundraisers!
Dick shared his style and expertise with many colleagues, several of whom, like me, remain active in the industry. Many are AICC Associate members. All of us appreciate experiences, and we place the customer (or the member) at the center of what we do.
If you are actively mentoring someone, thank you for sharing of yourself. It really does make a difference. If you are passively mentoring someone by creating opportunities for them and involving them, thank you for having a vision for others.
Benjamin Franklin is credited with writing, “Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.”
There is probably no better example of this than AICC members and AICC itself. Mentoring, sharing, experiencing. It is all about involvement.