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doug-grant-ben-franklin-awardIt seems like only yesterday I was printing ledger sheets and envelopes on a Multi 1250 with a T-head at my father’s business forms company. And the next thing you know, last week I was in Kansas City, Missouri, being inducted into the Ben Franklin Honor Society. It’s amazing how quickly time passes. And yet, when you take time to think about it, there have been some incredible and wonderful events that have taken place in the world and personally in my life that lead up to that moment in Kansas City.

First, I want to say what a tremendous honor it is to be a member of this group. The Ben Franklin Honor Society is kind of like the “Hall of Fame” for the printing industry. While founded in 2005 it can trace its roots all the way back to the 1950s. When you see the list of members you realize it’s a veritable who’s who in the industry.

It’s humbling to be nominated yet alone be inducted into a printing institution like the Ben Franklin Honor Society. When I was running that Multi 1250 forty years ago no one could have ever accuse me of being an excellent press operator but what I learned back then helped me through college, and then with my move into printing sales, again with my move into management and finally as President and CEO of Westamerica Communications.

I’d like to think that the family spirit that was established at The Printing Company by my father Bud Grant, my sister Cathy and my brother-in-law Mike all those years ago is still felt by the friends and employees that work with us today. And, like a family, things don’t always run as smooth as you’d like. But the true test of a person, a family and a company is how you react to trials and tribulations.

Over the years The Printing Company has evolved into Westamerica Communications and online media, email, interactive, and web programming have replaced that Multi 1250. We still print and mail but on a level that my father would have never imagined all those years ago. The things we can do with dimensional print, variable data and the like, take direct mail to a whole new level.

Actually, when I think of print and mail in the 21st century, I can’t help but think about Millennials. I’ve recently connected with Gabrielle Jackson Bosché. In her workshops, books and online media she says that print is a great way to connect with Millennials. She says that many Millennials ignore emails by using multiple accounts. So the marketing email you think you’re sending to that target audience may actually be headed for an account that is never opened. Does that mean that print is a great way to reach the younger generation? Does that mean that what’s old is new again? Does that mean I should dust off the Multi 1250 and brush up on my ink and fountain solution balancing skills?

I think what it means is simply this. During the past 40 years change has been the only constant. Things do not remained static.

As I stood on that stage in Kansas City I was surrounded with old friends and new. Some on that stage were there because of their contributions to printing education. Others were there due to their contributions to their local printing association. All of us where there because we know that the traditional values of family, friendship and giving back is what makes life worthwhile.  As it says in Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you.”