How good is Kerie Holck at her job in client services at Repro Graphics? Speaking from experience from the days when Repro assisted with the printing of Dateline UC Davis, we can say she is very, very good.
The In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association agrees, recently according her lifetime status as a certified graphics communications manager, which the association describes as the highest professional achievement for in-house printing managers. The association serves print shops in higher education and government, business and industry, hospitals and nonprofit organizations, and more.
Certification “is really a big deal” in the industry, said Brian Wadell, director of Repro Graphics, noting that only about 400 people nationally have earned this certification and only 63 have earned lifetime certification in the association’s 54-year history.
Unfortunately, Holck’s “big deal” will soon turn into a “big loss” for Wadell and Repro Graphics and the university — because she plans to retire in June after more than 40 years at UC Davis.
‘Pulling jobs out of the fire’
“She works tirelessly for her clients,” Wadell said. “She loves being of service and seeing the work through to completion.
“One of her many skills that isn’t all that common in this business, is her ability to pull a job out of the fire when everything goes wrong,” Wadell said. “She is very creative at finding solutions when, say, a vendor doesn’t deliver something needed on time for a job. She finds a workaround that always pleases the customer, and she does it with skill and calm and professionalism.”
Wadell also commented on Holck’s reputation with vendors who do work for Repro Graphics. “If they know they’ll be working with Kerie, they’ll submit lower bids,” because the vendors have confidence their projects will stay on schedule without do-overs, he said.
With the In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association’s certification program, corporate publishing managers like Holck are receiving “the continuing education they need to cope with the rapidly changing graphic communications field,” said Mike Loyd, the association’s executive director.
‘Dedication to the industry’
Since first being certified in 1993, “Kerie has provided evidence of dedication to the industry and preserved professional status as a certified graphics communications manager,” Loyd said.
Her dedication to UC Davis dates back to March 1978. The Woodland native started here in the physical education-athletics department, where her duties included scheduling intramurals, assisting with ticket sales, typing term papers, and printing course materials on mimeograph and Ditto machines.
As technology marched on, the university would provide her with new tools: “I was so excited to get my first IBM Selectric typewriter ... and I remember my first computer, fax machine, pager and cell phone.”
After almost two years in PE-athletics, she moved to Repro Graphics, which at the time had a brand-new building (since occupied by the Data Center).
“There were 50 employees when I started,” she said, including the artists responsible for the university’s graphic standards. She collaborated with them on projects and maintained that relationship even after the artists moved to the central communications office in Mrak Hall — thus assuring quality and adherence to standards in UC Davis’ most important print pieces such as admission brochures and commencement programs.
The Repro Graphics work force would peak at about 80 people in the late 1980s-early ’90s, and today numbers about 20 — the decrease mostly due to efficiencies in the printing business, Holck said.
The shop still had a letterpress when she came onboard but had made the shift to phototypesetting and offset printing — and has since moved to computer graphics that are sent directly to high-speed copier-printers. Repro Graphics also has machines for perforating, collating, drilling, stapling, binding, padding, numbering and laminating, and printers to make banners. (By the way, there is no machine that can substitute for Holck’s eagle eye when she’s proofreading!)
No matter the process, Holck made sure she knew how it worked. She gained that knowledge by spending time with the printers and others in the shop “so I could better communicate what they did in a language the customers could understand, hopefully,” she said. This went a long way in explaining to customers why one project might take longer than another, and how customers can cut costs.
Holck recalled a particularly challenging project: an invitation with three panels, a dye cut and foil. Oh, and it was a rush order! Understanding the time and supply constraints, she came up with an alternative that she knew was doable. “So, I asked the client, ‘How about if we do something like this?’ — and they said, ‘Oh, that’s just what we had in mind.
“This was my creative outlet,” she said. (She’s also a photographer and quilter — and soon she will have more time for both.)
Calm amid the deadlines
Through all the orders and especially the rush orders, Holck maintains calm — Dateline can attest to that! “Both of my parents were self-employed, and I learned from them the importance of treating customers like we want to be treated,” she said.
No wonder she has made a lot of great friends over the years — customers all across the university, on the Davis and Sacramento campuses, and her colleagues, too. “UC Davis is really a large family, a large, caring family,” she said.
Now she will have more time for her own family, her husband, Ken, who retired in 2016 after a 32-year career as a music teacher at Douglass Middle School in Woodland); daughter and son-in-law, Kacee and Jason Squires; and three granddaughters. Holck will be at Repro Graphics through most of June, and, after that, it’s off with the whole family to Hawaii.