The Ladies Are In the House
women Have made valuable contributions to the printing industry as far back as the Renaissance. Printing businesses were typically family affairs and all members participated. Men usually cast the type, which involved blacksmithing, and managed labor-intensive paper-making tasks, while women set type, folded paper and stitched bindings. When husbands died, wives continued running the shops and supporting their families with the permission of the industry-ruling guilds.
But, by the early 1800s, women in America and Europe began being shut out of the industry, as developing technology and increasing demand for books and newspapers moved printing from family shops into the hands of male-only unions.
Fast forward to the 1960s, and the women’s movement refocused attention on careers outside the home. While not too long ago, the overwhelming majority of attendees at industry trade shows were male, today, a fair percentage of women are among those gathering catalogs and samples and networking with peers.
Cleveland-based Proforma even conducted a Multi-Million Dollar Female Business Owners’ Interactive Panel at its 2005 national sales convention in Orlando, Fla., in recognition of the growing number of female franchise owners, including 106 sole owners and 57 in partnerships.
Here, three of the panel participants revisit some of the topics from the discussion panel:
• Linda Martinelli, franchise owner. She worked in the forms and office supply business for 27 years before frustrations with being unable to sell outside the box of her employers’ company led the single mother of three to launch Proforma Graphic PrintSource, Brea, Calif., in 1998. With six employees and $3 million in sales, Martinelli is now a single-source provider for all of her customers' needs.
• Vera Muzzillo, co-owner of Proforma. A commercial and investment banker with a finance degree from the University of Notre Dame, as well as a business consultant, she joined Cleveland-based Proforma in 2001. Now co-CEO with husband Greg, the mother of 10 children ranging in ages from 16 months to 23 years old, is responsible for the financial, operations and technology aspects of the $276 million company, and partners closely with Proforma’s 650 franchise owners.
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