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Friday, March 1, 2013

INTERVIEW WITH EFI GOES WRONG, BUT YEAR ENDS WELL

After several meetings  at the Messe on Sunday, I returned to the hotel and told Carol I was finished with DRUPA. I couldn't take it anymore. Another wurst and I'd burst. I couldn't find cheer in beer. We needed a change of scenery, so we checked with the Concierge about nearby tourist attractions  and were recommended to Trier, located near the Luxembourg border about a three hour drive. It's beginnings were estimated to be in 16 B.C. and was noted for its ruins. We found a Holiday Inn (a well known German chain) in town and planned to spend two  days there. But how much time can you spend looking at ruins. It was easier to look in a mirror. We checked out after one night, drove back to Dusseldorf, and moved our return to New York three days ahead of our original schedule.

I couldn't wait to get back to the office and catch up on what I had missed.. The staff was working on the DRUPA special and all was well. I nearly forgot we had moved to Third Avenue and inadvertently took the route to our old offices on Fifth Avenue before I remember. I had been driving from New Jersey to New York for nearly 20 years and found a parking garage near the new location. The building, itself was mostly glass. We had four floors with an atrium that originated on the 10th floor. There were six big pentagonal offices, all  the same size, and I learned that one of them was mine. Each had only one solid wall. Glass surrounded us on the other four sides, with one panel facing the atrium  and others overlooking the surrounding Streets and third Avenue. We had a great view from every angle. But when I entered the new offices, I found the old, tattered chairs and sofas from our Fifth Avenue office. I made a quick visit to President Jack Abely's office,  which was a duplicate of mine, but newly decorated.

He gave me a $5000 budget for new furniture. I found a friend and filled my office with new couches and chairs, a large glass table, and a new desk and desk chair. It was the biggest office I had ever had and could easily accommodate our editorial staff meetings. I kept the credenza from my old digs because it was great place to pile stuff and to keep my old  Underwood typewriter. Several days after it was refurnished Dun & Bradstreet Chairman Duke Drake and CEO Charlie Moritz showed up to get a  gander at our new text editing equipment from Atex. They asked me, "Where's your terminal?"  I pointed to my Underwood, and told them the publication was charged $300 a month for each terminal, and I was cheap. They laughed and I never had to admit that I was technologically challenged. It took me six months before I'd write my column on the system.

Another visitor was Efi Arazi of Scitex. On hand for our interview were Roger Ynostroza, Earl Wilken, Peter Johnston and yours truly. We threw Efi some soft ball questions, before we showed him the sliders and curves. Efi was an extremely bright person who had an unusual speech pattern. He would think so  fast that he never finished a sentence. His mind was on to  his next thought. Every sentence finished with "bah, bah, bah" as if we knew what he was going to say. After about an hour, he excused himself, "I have a lunch date at Time, Inc and I am going to sell them a $3 million system," he explained. After he left, I commented to the editors, "We have nothing we can use." Roger suggested we transcribe the  recorded conversation, throw it to the ceiling and see what would stick." Nothing did and the piece we  were going to  write about Scitex was scrapped.

In July Dick Gorelick, Jim Wilkens of PIA, joined me in judging the first GAM/PIA/HARRIS GRAPHICS Marketing Excellence Awards. My office was strewn with presentations, advertising, marketing brochures and one hard bound book with a plan that filled more than 1000 pages. I do remember that on of our first winners was Dennis Castiglione, a Facebook friend, who was then the marketing vice president at Carpenter Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio.

Following the distribution of our DRUPA  special issue, I received a phone call from the editor of Character, the French publication serving the printing market. She  invited me to speak at a conference discussing the German exhibit. I was only there for three days, but made a connection with the second largest printer in Capetown, South Africa. His name was Dennis Nick and we spent one evening drinking into the wee small hours, retelling our life  stories We had an instant connection  and made plans to meet at a future international conference. "Let's bring our wives so the four of us can have dinner together," he suggested. ( To be covered in Monday's post). On the flight back to the U.S., I contemplated GAM's growth after completing  my three full years as publisher. By the end of 1982, we had grown our revenues 50% while doubling our bottom line. To top it off our market share had jumped to 52% in a three magazine market. We were having fun.