I was hired in 1986 to work as a developer on Comtran a word processing program, the name means computer transmitted. I was hired to work on an Apple IIe equipment.
This is when desktop publishing was at the very beginning. And I got interested in that because we did our first newsletter on the Macintosh 101 28K that had two disc drives in it - one for the system and one for the application using PageMaker. And that was my introduction to desktop publishing. A (yearbook adviser) by the name of Jim Jordan wanted to produce a (yearbook) that year using PageMaker.
He and I talked and I said, look, there's no reason you can't do it. We'll have to do it as a what we would call it a paste-up book at that time. He would print out and paste the pages down, send the photos in and we would make them work. So basically I started working then on figuring it out. How can this work? How can schools submit pages this way?
And Jim Jordan wrote a guide for us on how to do it from a school's perspective. I wrote a corresponding guide on how to do it from our perspective. Here's the submission rules. Here's the things you need to do. Here's what you should expect.
It's right here. Yeah, it's called Desktop with the mouse on it. And there's all the stuff that we wrote. Basically it takes it from soup to nuts. You could submit a bunch of different ways. It was all about PageMaker, the fonts, all the templates which we're probably still using some of these.
We were the first ones to embrace it. And I think we were the first one that ever printed a book that way. That was 86 and it delivered in 87. That next year, we did about 20 books with desktop.
We wrote the very first plug-ins, they called them editions, in the yearbook industry. Some of the ones we wrote, we are still using. They’ve been rewritten and upgraded and all of that, but it's still being used today.
When I got here, we only had about 2,000 schools. We were a $21 million company. Half of our schools were using Apple 2 equipment to at least type their copy into, because we had a copy fitting routine. I saw that transition over about a five-year period from that to desktop publishing.
We did all the printing. There was no digital or anything. Digital cameras were low quality, very expensive. That next generation we started seeing digital photos come in from our customers. We wrote software to help them with the quality of that, make sure they didn't submit a 72 DPI image.
And then you just saw it evolve step by step. Now they could do all of the photos themselves. And this is primarily black and white. Color was in the next wave. Why not go ahead and produce a PDF and send us a PDF. So that was the next generation.
I eventually turned over the customer facing portion of my job to a new group formed in the KC office and concentrated on internal software and processes.
Over the next four to five years, we converted from printing on paper and using a camera to full eight-page output on single piece film. This was a game-changer internally from an efficiency and quality standpoint. The final step in this process was converting to printing directly on printing plates, a process we still use today.
We kept tightening things up in 2006. It actually started in the fall of 2005. We had a technology initiative where basically there was an audit of everything we were doing with technology.
I was one of four technology leaders to lead a portion of the initiative which reviewed all aspects of technology at Walsworth, including department organization, applications, development and infrastructure. I was eventually appointed to lead the initiative and oversaw the implementation of the changes. I was charged with creating a new Technology department that encompassed the entire organization, both internally and customer facing.
That's really where I'm at today. I've moved up as far as becoming a vice president. And what that meant was just from a strategic standpoint, I now had a lot of corporate responsibility.
Today, guiding our technology strategies to make sure they're supporting the goals of the business is really my number one responsibility. If technology is not in alignment with business or vice versa, we have problems. We're not gonna be successful long-term.
Creating processes and software for Walsworth to be competitive, I’ve been doing that my entire career. The scope might have changed a little bit, but that's what I've been doing and that's what I'm probably the best at of all the stuff that I do.
Right. And it wasn't 10 years ago. But I kind of saw that coming probably 2015 or so. I just started seeing so much noise in the industry and in the world and we started down the path. By 2017 I felt like we were positioned well.
And you know, just a year and a half later, we got hit with a ransomware attack that we successfully stopped. We didn't have to pay the ransom. We stopped it. We limited the damage. We had put in thousands of hours of work prepping for something we hoped would never happen and then it happened. The work paid off.
It's a combination of things. One is, I'm a local boy and I'm kind of living my dream in my hometown. That’s not something you think you'd ever get to do. Coming from a small town and coming out of college with a computer science degree in 1985, my assumption was I was going to end up in Kansas City, or Columbia, some, some place like that.
I got a job at Churchill Truck Lines as a developer. And a year into the job at Churchill's, I had the opportunity to come to Walsworth and they convinced me that was the right move.
It was a great move. It's been a great company to work for. The diversity of my job is amazing. I got to know the infrastructure side. I understand it and enterprise applications development, which is, you know, there's multiple flavors of development.
Data management is incredibly important. The list just goes on and on, the whole infrastructure piece. It's just amazing. And then being able to deal with customers and understand what their needs are. I don't get bored. I can get bored pretty easily at times and I don't get bored in this job.
I've got my wife and my family. I've got three girls. They're all married. I've got six grandkids with one on the way. I spend a lot of time with my friends and my church.
Oh, yeah. I like to hunt and fish. I play golf. I don't get to do any of that as much as I want to.
Woodworking is a hobby. My dad built houses for a living. So I built my own house. I've worked on 13 different houses for family over the years where we built on them at nights and on weekends, starting when I was just a kid. So that's kind of ingrained in my blood.
One that applies to work is called The Goal and it's a scheduling book. But it has project management applications as well. It talks about bottlenecks and restraints. The great example that sticks in my mind, this was a boy scout troop in the example he used, you’ve got these seven scouts and they will all walk at different speeds.
And as time goes by during the day while you're hiking, you get spread so far out. You know, you got the ones going too fast and you got the ones going the slowest. And so everyone is constantly waiting for each other and there's disruptions and you just don't get very far. But if you take the slowest and you put them in front and you proceed at their pace, you go farther, there's no disruption.
You may have some in the back saying, “Hey we can go faster.” But they'll find something to do, they'll spend time doing stuff. And when you look at workflows, when you look at running projects, when you look at software, it's the same thing. Where's your bottleneck? OK. Design everything to optimize the bottleneck.
I spent nine days on the USS Constellation teaching them Photoshop and InDesign. We left port from Hong Kong, went south of the equator and ended up at the naval base in Yokosuka Japan.
Every so often I've been going to Nicaragua for almost 10 years. There's been some interruptions in there but almost 10 years. One of the things we do is we build houses for people that don't have houses. And, you know, that fits with my background. I like to build things, but when we go down there, it's not just about building houses to supply a material need.
But we spend just as much time on the spiritual side and they are very receptive. (In Nicaragua) they have mostly a Catholic background. But in the areas we go to, there is no church access there. We're trying to supply them spiritually and it's just a great situation.
There are wonderful people in Nicaragua. I think this summer was my seventh trip of, of the last 10 years. I had a software rollout with Salesforce that got in the way of one of them. And then we had Covid which stopped two of those.
Every trip when we get to a village and there will be a line of 100 to 200 people welcoming us there. They'll have balloons and all kinds of stuff. And, you know, it's just every day when you go into the village, you get that reception and it just sticks with you.
You know, the first time we went down there and experienced it, it was much more emotional because we were not expecting that. But just the way they're so appreciative of what you're doing for them and what you're doing with them, it's amazing.
You know, it's really one of the same thing.
Building a house is basically - there's a process to it. But like any process, there are things that happen that you did not expect. Now, if you're building a house for yourself, you don't have that as much. But if you're building it for somebody else, they will change their mind and you may no longer have the infrastructure to support what they want to do and you have to go back and change it.
But I think that's really where I learned a lot of my problem-solving skills was working with my dad and my uncle and they would get presented with these problems and they would include me going well, “OK, what are we gonna do?”
Meadville, Missouri; 24 miles east of Marceline
I play cards every morning at 5:00 for about an hour before I come to work. We play six days a week. So we don't play on Sundays and we don't play on Christmas Day, but that's it. We play every other day.
There's seven or eight of us. We’re all friends. I'm the second youngest. The oldest one would be around 85 or 86. But it's been going on in Meadville for like 100 years. So we're just keeping the tradition going.
I get up about a quarter to five. It doesn't take me a lot to get ready. You know, I don't have a lot to work with so it doesn't take a long time to get this. If I keep my hair short enough, I can do it a little faster.
Well, I was the Missouri State Skeet champion in 1980. We had a team in school (Meadville High School), freshman through senior year. I was in the top three for both skeet and trap. I only won it once primarily because there was people on the team better than I was, but not that day. We also had the individual champion all four of those years.
I've had obviously a ton of them, an absolute ton of them, but the one that stuck out was sitting outside of a convention center up in Chicago. It was 25 degrees but we felt like we had to go outside to get a little privacy. And making the decision to change our entire printing system away from AGFA and over to Prinergy, which was not Kodak at the time.
That was a huge decision. We had been leading up to this with AGFA. We had given them a list of things with their new software where it looks you're falling behind. We can no longer ignore some of these things. Your next version needs to have these things in it.
They showed us their software that day and it did none of those things. And, you know, we ultimately made that decision standing out in the cold that we're gonna change the ship here and move it.
Walsworth has provided a great career for me. It’s an incredibly fulfilling place, there are great people all over the place. It's been a great company. I can't imagine my life without Walsworth.