For Western Carolina University’s Print Shop, quality and consistency always have been the name of the game, including when it comes to staff.
So, having only the third pressman in the history of the Print Shop is a big deal. After 28 years, Jeff Ray is retiring at the end of the month. Mike McKendrick will then take on print technician duties.
Sam Beck, the university’s first pressman and original Print Shop manager who started in 1968, stopped by recently to express best wishes to both. The gathering of past, present and future printers represented more than 50 years of experience, covering technologies from linotype to digital. Before starting at WCU, Beck worked at The Sylva Herald while Ray previously worked at The Mountaineer of Waynesville.
McKendrick said he is looking forward to the creative and mechanical aspects of the job. “And working with everybody here, who are just great, is pretty much what I’ve been looking for,” he said.
Ray said he will miss the camaraderie of the Print Shop and the special place that its products hold for generations of students and their families. “I enjoyed those moments of making things work ― on deadline,” he said as he started printing a second run of commencement programs.
“Printing is still a craft,” said Tom Frazier, university print services manager. “It’s not something you turn on and walk away from. A combination of ink and water, coming together with paper, to create posters, programs, signs and banners, invitations and so many other items we produce here. Some are memorable and will be saved; others are in the trash by the end of the evening. But all are necessary and worthwhile.”