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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

BEING HONORED FOR 50 YEARS OF SERVICE

My former assistant, Diane Ruggeri gave Vance Publishing one week's notice and showed up in the GAM office with her sleeves rolled up Within months, she had straightened out office procedures, corrected all market share reports and balanced commissions paid to the salesmen. I had been there three weeks when a call came in from Don Rothrock, one of the head honchos at 3M's graphic arts division 3M was a major player in film and plate business, along with Kodak, Agfa,  DuPont and Polychrome  Don invited me to come to St. Paul, Minnesota to visit with a number of corporate executives, including  Lewis Lehr, who was CEO at the  time. Don said I could bring other staff members because 3M wanted to make a presentation honoring GAM's 50th anniversary. I invited Roger Ynostroza, our associate editor in the New York office, and Mike O'Hara in Chicago, who handled the account. I also thought it would be nice to invite Dick Lewis, then associate publisher, because it was his  family that had founded the magazine.

We were picked up at the airport and driven to the 3M complex. Lunch was in the executive dining room and Lew Lehr said of couple of words and handed me a sculpture of an American Eagle nearly two feet tall. The plate at the base was engraved, "PRESENTED TO GRAPHIC ARTS MONTHLY IN RECOGNITION OF 50 YEARS OF DEDICATED SERVICE TO THE GRAPHIC ARTS INDUSTRY FROM YOUR FRIENDS AT 3M"  It was dated September, 1979. Following  the presentation, Don informed me that his company had commissioned a local American Indian sculptor to create a limited edition piece of art, Fifty were cast and 3M presented them to organizations that had contributed to industries in which the 3M was active. "Hang on to it. Someday it will be very valuable," he said.

On the ride back to the airport, I asked Dick Lewis if he had written his job description, something I had asked other staffers to do. He had not. I said I would be coming back to Chicago the next week, and if he had not prepared it, he  should have his bags backed. I did not need him to baby sit two experienced salesmen, considering that was all he did. The following week I traveled back to Chicago office, where, I was given a note from him saying he had resigned.  I wan't surprised, , and guessed he wanted to avoid a confrontation. While there, I joined Emedio Gaspari in making a presentation at an ad agency, Mandabach and Simms. The firm handled  four  accounts that advertised regularly. Shelly Kahn was the man in charge. As we entered  Emedio's car, he handed me two garbage bags. One was light, the other heavier. He also carried two bags. He stuffed the four into two back seat. Arriving  their office building, the doorman had to open the revolving doors so we could get the large bags into the lobby. I had no idea what was in them.

There were four people in the conference room. Emedio would state  a claim made by one of the three major magazines serving the printing industry,  reaching in to one of the bags and pulled out a balloon. "Let's see if that claim floats," he said. Each balloon had the name and logo of the three magazines serving the  printing industry. The claims made by GAM all floated to  the ceiling (they were filled with helium). The bags identifying the competition crashed to the table. (They were filled with lead pellets.) By the third or fourth claim, everyone was laughing and Emedio had made his point. It wasn't my kind of presentation, but it was effective. I encouraged our sales force to know  the customers and the products they made and act as marketing consultants, rather than ad salesmen. But Emedio was a showman, not a creative salesman. He was one of the most unforgettable characters I had ever met. He only drove with a fuzz buster, because he always was speeding. He was also the first individual in my circles to buy a personal computer. But as long as him market share remained at its current level, I was willing to put up with his idiosyncrasies.