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Did you lose a bet?

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  • Did you lose a bet?

    OK. Here's the big question. What got you into printing ? Was it a childhood dream? Was it all the unemployment office had left to send you to? Let's face it. The printing environment is brutally fast paced. Multi tasking was invented by pressmen and carried to the insane limits. It takes a very unique individual to handle the stress and hectic-ness. (is that a word?) Print shops just aren't like any other animal. What got you there and why did you stay for crying out loud?!?!
    Here's my story. Freshly graduated from high school in 1974 I immediately planted a tree on the playground of love. My future father-in-law was absolutely livid when he found out and almost berserk when he learned I had no job. He threatened to kill me and I saw no reason to doubt him. A friends Dad knew a guy that managed a print shop and said they needed a part time janitor. I got the job and two months later I was made pressroom helper. A year and a half later I was advanced to apprentice pressman. I stayed at the job out of fear of my wifes dad. And the pay for a snot nosed 18 year old kid was pretty good. I seemed to fit in and got along with all the guys well. After a couple years my wages were too good to think about changing jobs. Actually, I like printing. It is a real trade with an interesting history and the people that work in the trade are some real characters sometimes.

  • #2
    Re: Did you lose a bet?

    First of all, I'd like to say that I like the subject of this thread. Sometimes I wonder what rabbit hole I went down and how I got here to this alternate universe called printing.

    I started an artist. I was drawing at a very early age up to the age of fifteen. When I got four wheels, I drew no more.
    I graduated high school and started college. Chose Orthotics and Prosthetics field at Shelby State in Memphis, TN, but before I could get my pre-requisites finished, they closed the program.
    So I then looked at State Technical Institute of Memphis for something to go into. I never considered myself even the slightest bit technical, but there was a Associate of Applied Science degree program beginning called Graphic Arts Technology. So I took the plunge and learned the Quark, Macromedia, and Adobe programs and a little about film, etc.
    Got a job at a sign shop, then at Hanson Graphics of Memphis where I worked for 6.5 years (while most all strippers were let go, part of the now large empty building was moved from Scitex to Macs and PCs, and ended up throwing the old Scitex systems out the back door for scrap before the company shut down after being in business for almost 80 years). Finished my journeyman there, and would have gladly stayed until retirement if the would have stayed open.
    After being out of work three months, I took the only job I could get (in 2002) in printing as prepress for a commercial printer. I don't like looking for a new job, so I just stay here. I run the department with one other person (I take care of the computers, workflows, calibration, he takes care of the other maintenance and ordering supplies), and rarely have to talk to the boss. I like working alone in a quiet room, so it suits me just fine.
    At times it does feel like I took a wrong turn or lost a bet, especially since I haven't made as much since Hanson closed their doors, and probably won't make that much again. But I do like what I'm doing, although to tell you the truth it does get mighty boring when you have the workflows built and refined so that almost all work just flows through smoothly. Guess that's why I spend all the time on the forums that I do.



    • #3
      Re: Did you lose a bet?

      I come from a very dysfunctional printing family. I am the son of the son of the son of...a printer. The family printing business has seven employees and consists of, my father, mother, younger brother, one unrelated prepress guy, two unrelated press men and myself—there's no nepotism here?!?

      As far as I can remember I've always had a fascination with printing and printing presses. One of my earliest memories include my grand uncle's shop in Ecuador and the bank of four Heidelberg Windmills he had at his shop and of my father taking me to the shop he worked at after we immigrated to California and seeing the Multiliths churning the sheets out--black ink. When I got to junior high and high school I took as many shop classes as possible with at least one print shop class a year for four years straight. I was hooked from the beginning!!!

      But my father wanted his first son to graduate from the university and not be a pressman like he was. So in the eleventh grade I started taking college prep classes. I went to college hoping to get a chemical engineering degree and I found that math, physics and chemistry, although interesting, could not keep my interests totally. I began to branch out taking many classes in history, English, literature, humanities, etc.; and before I knew it I had over 200 units but not a degree. I soon got married and began to have kids, when my father approached me one day: his partner was retiring and my father needed someone to help out. I could not say YES fast enough.

      I started working at the shop in 1990 with my younger brother joining a year later; when we started we had two AB Dicks 360 presses, one with a T-head and two Heidelberg 10x15 Windmill presses. Today our press room has one five color Heidelberg GTO, a Ryobi 3302 and two AB Dick 8820/360 presses. Small press up to 14x20 sheet size. We kept one of the Heidelberg 10x15 Windmill platen letterpress—what a sweet machine it is!

      Until recently I was the prepress department and defacto computer guy which includes estimating printing using PrintSmith and maintaining our website. I am also one of the main customer contacts and sales rep. In a small shop you do it all, including occasionally cleaning the toilet. I have sixteen years of prepress experience cutting my teeth with a Lasermaster 1000. We have an ECRM imagestter running a Harlequin Rip, pretty basic. We recently installed a Xante Platemaker 5 and an Ilumina printer. My favorite program is InDesign. And although we have Macs the heavy prepress work is done on the pentiums. We will be purchasing a metal CTP device some time next year.

      Now, do I regret going into the printing business. NO! I have found that this business has a little of most everything I've learned in life: math, physics, chemistry, history, grammar, literature, mechanical and computer equipment., sales, marketing, finance, I could go on. In this job I do a different thing each and every day.

      Finally and gratefully, I am a born again Christian. John 3:16, 2 Timothy 2:15.

      Jaime Zuniga


      • #4
        Re: Did you lose a bet?

        Holy cow you guys like to type ;-)

        Lets do the Readers Digest version here:

        Going to a local college, thinking of being a Psychologist (that's fitting). Took a part time job at a local printer.
        Printer lost a Stripper I dropped school for an apprenticeship. I've been a proofer, contacter, stripper, camera operator, scanner operator, scitex operator, mac operator worked with filmsetters, platesetters various rips, servers networks (remember sci-span?). For the last 9 years I have been the Prepress manager at the same company I started with.

        The last few years have been a nightmare there with the company always being on the edge of going out of business so when I was contacted by a headhunter I bailed. Now I have a little more coin in my pocket, less responsibility as an operator and moved to an area of the country that's not losing jobs faster than you can say NAFTA.

        I do miss the snow a bit, but I think I'll get over it.

        p.s. On a personal note, I hate anyone that uses the term guru to describe what they do....grrrrrrrrr

        Oh and I hate peanutbutter.....blech!


        • #5
          Re: Did you lose a bet?

          Much like Jaime I was born into it. Family had a sheetfed shop growing up, spent summers walking around the collating table, developing plates and doing whatever was needed around the shop.

          Instead of getting grounded as a kid punishment would be to go down and de-strip film flats so they could recycle the film. I spent a lot of time de-stripping flats

          Always enjoyed the printing process (still amazed that a press can register at 15,000 IPH) and working with computers. Prepress seemed to be the natural path for me.


          • #6
            Re: Did you lose a bet?


            My dad used the belt for punishment. I don't know which is better--quick physical pain or slow emotional pain?

            You bring back a memory of hand collating 8.5x11 calender sheets around the dinning room table and later stringing and knotting them when I was a kid--it was my parents Christmas money for us. Hmm, what a great memory.


            Edited by: Jaime Zuniga on Oct 17, 2007 8:12 PM


            • #7
              Re: Did you lose a bet?

              Well... then get a new job dude. Dysfunctional Christmas memories and you actually chose this as a career?


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