Browsing catalogs that came in the mail was one of my favorite parts of the holidays when I was a kid. I would look at the pictures and read about this season’s new gadgets and toys and yell “Mom, I want that!” I realize now from working in marketing as an adult that a great deal of craftsmanship went into products themselves, and into printing of those catalogs. The strategic layout and colorful design is what drew me in. Talented craftsmen created this printed material that excited readers like me, a skill that has is being lost in recent years with the draw of the bright shiny lights of digital technologies.
In light of the recent announcement that Burns Printing of Olathe is joining the NextPage team, we wanted to explore the significance and necessity of craftsmanship in the printing industry.
If you walk into a printing facility like NextPage, you may notice that the press workers are all around the same age. According to Joe Polanco from Printing Impressions, the skilled bindery and prepress technicians of today are all baby boomers above age 50. They will soon retire and because younger generations, who are trained primarily on digital printers, will place offset printing specialists in high demand. Training incoming workers for offset printing will be a challenge in the next ten years.
Robert Robinson is an experienced press operator joining NextPage from Burns and will work primarily with the Komori Lithrone GL-840P Press, an 8 color offset printing press. Robinson recognizes his skills as an offset printer are needed in addition to changes in digital printing.
“I like the way that digital is moving, but this [printing] requires a little more know-how and a little more skill,” said Robinson, “You can control a multitude of elements on an offset press that you just can make allowances for on a digital press. It has taken me years to hone my skills and I’m excited that a company like NextPage sees the value in those skills AND sees the value in the latest technologies.”
Jeff Bergin is another press operator from Burns joining NextPage as the letterpress operator.
“To be able to run any offset press, people need specialized training. We are actually manufacturing something out of paper. That piece of paper will likely help a company sell its products. That is very cool, but is more than pushing a button and loading a paper drawer.”
Both men are happy to be a part of company that understands the value of printing craftsmanship as well as working toward the future.
“NextPage is moving forward. The company really is doing a lot “more than print”. It is exciting. While they are founded on the art of putting ink on paper, they get the future of print and are really driving print innovation like no plant I’ve seen,” said Robinson.