Passion for Print
As part of Print+Promo’s ongoing feature, Executive Perspectives, we get to know leading professionals in the print and promotional industry. This month, we talked to Jim Schulty, vice president of AmeriPrint Corporation, Harvard, Ill. Here, Schulty talks about leadership priorities, the Baby Boomer effect and his excitement over integrated products.
How did you first get started in this industry, and what path did you take to land in your current role?
Jim Schulty: While I was attending a vocational high school in 1957, a small letterpress shop, the Homewood Press, offered me a part-time job after school and on weekends. The owner, Al Gibbens, took me under his wing, sharing his years of acquired knowledge. I learned the basics of printing—from setting the type by hand, to locking up the chases, to running it on the letterpresses. [Irving E.] Macomber Vocational [Technical High School] in Toledo, Ohio, had a co-op program that allowed students to work a week and attend high school every other week. And that’s where my printing career started. After high school, I attended the University of Toledo for one semester on a scholarship, but left to pursue a career in the printing industry. In 1961, I started running a forms press for Industrial Printing in Toledo, working my way up to production manager before leaving in 1984 to become a general manager at Miami Systems in Cincinnati. Subsequently, I accepted a position as vice president of manufacturing at Forms Corporation of America in Spring Grove, Ill. In 1990, my wife, Vicky (who is now president), Mark Diedrich, Bob Haubert and I started AmeriPrint Corporation. We established a 10,000-square-foot plant in Woodstock, Ill., with one new Schriber press and one new Schriber collator, and away we went. In the beginning, printing was an interest of mine, but as time [has gone] by, it has become my passion.
How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
JS: Our goal is pretty simple: Always take care of today, but look to the future. My personal goal is to maintain a good reputation, and to take care of both my employees and our customers. AmeriPrint is committed to managing to stay within budget while achieving the highest industry standards, as well as constantly exploring new opportunities. Another company objective is to continually have training in all departments, such as cross-training.
How does the economy continue to affect the industry?
JS: The economy is always a huge factor in our industry. The printing industry is based on companies needing our services to manage their businesses. When their profits are up (or down), so are our businesses’.
What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges the industry will face?
JS: We can see the handwriting on the wall with the shrinking need for print. Just look at the staggering decline in the number of paper mills. Also, as our aging workforce retires, finding experienced operators has become increasingly difficult. Finding people who want to work with their hands and learn a trade also is challenging, tasking us to look for new approaches with regard to hiring and training. We also need to look for new avenues for our current business, offering more services than the typical print on paper.
What keeps you up at night?
JS: I’m sure that I’m no different than any other owner: deadlines, schedules, finances and backlogs—whether too much or too little.
What do you think is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now? Why?
JS: Our highly productive and multifaceted integrated product lines coupled with our jet-imaging capabilities are examples of our cutting-edge products. While traditional forms products have declined in use, integrated products continue to grow.
What would people be surprised to learn about you—hobbies, special interests, etc.?
JS: My family is, and has always been, the main thing in my life. Travel is a big part of our lives. We have been to over 35 countries and have four more on our schedule this year. Surprisingly, almost all of our trips are complete in seven days, from Machu Picchu in Peru to China to India, etc. Frequently, the thing that amazes people is that I am a picture taker, not a photographer. I have over 100,000 pictures stored in many photo boxes, all labeled and in chronological order.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.