Moving from press conference to press conference, especially when it requires covering acres of territory and tight time tables, can be exhausting. So, a couple of days into DRUPA 86, it was a bit of a relief to hear that the press and some its customers were to meet at the Scitex exhibit prior to be transported to Museumsladen Schloss, a well known castle near Dusseldorf. The three buses carried about 100 people and sped across the Autobahn toward the site of the luncheon. But whoever arranged the event might not have realized we were to be seated in two separate rooms. Brian Newman, Scitex America president, was unhappy that he needed to make his presentation in a door jam between the two rooms, so he quickly turned over the presentation to the recently appointed vice president, George Carlisle. George had previously worked at Compugraphic. (In 1981 Bayer, a German company acquired Agfa Gaevert, a Belgium company. In 1988 Agfa purchased publicly owned Compugraphic, which was defunct by the end of the year.) George obviously had a very accurate crystal ball.
We watched as he waltzed back and forth through the doorway, making sure that the two audiences could meld as one, and not miss his message.. It was a masterful job. He was a big, genial guy, and I was trying to decide whether he was a power forward in basketball, a linebacker in football or a catcher in baseball, or possibly all three. I later learned he was a quarterback and had graduated from Dartmouth. Following his stirringl presentation, I introduced myself, and we took our drinks on to one of the terraces at the back of the castles. An imposing figure, he filled a room when he entered. He had a hearty laugh and a great sense of humor. I could picture him in an Santa Claus outfit. More importantly we had an instant connection, much like the relationship I had with John Dreyer of Pitman, consultant Dick Gorelick, and young Joe Webb, who was the ad manager at Chemco and attempting to earn his doctorate at NYU.
Following our conversation, on the drive back to Dusseldorf, I said to Peter Johnston, "Keep your eye on that guy, he's going to be a star. Evidently Scitex agreed and later that year he was name CEO of the American unit. I spoke to George recently and he called me his mentor. I responded by saying he was my savior. Today George is 63, lives with his lovely wife Susan in New Hampshire. Their four offspring have blessed them with eight grandchildren with a ninth on the way. George's influence on my future will revealed over the course of this blog.
Another memorable evening was spent a Zum Schiffchen, a Dusseldorf restaurant. Gary Dolgins had organized a dinner with several other industry executives, including Rick Mazur, so we could experience the of eating schweinhoxen (pigs knuckles). Gary continually reminds me he picked up the check. He's probably right. In the midst of our drinking and dining, a ruckus developed on the far side of the restaurant. Music was playing and a young blond girl was dancing on the table. I couldn't see her from my perspective, but Gary said it was Vicki Blake, then with Belgium based Barco Graphics and based in that company's Dayton, Ohio office. I teased her for the rest of DRUPA. (I was told that she was dating Rob and Chad Lowe's father, so, even though I considered it, I never hit on the cute blonde. Besides I knew Carol would find out and I had enough problems with our possible sale.)
True to my word, I never let slip that fact that we were up for sale. I couldn't wait to return to the office to update the status of our pending office. (What's happening in New York in next week's blogs.)