Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

On Saturday, October 5, 2013 an era ended for the small commercial segment of the printing industry. That’s the day that Bill LeVine died. Most of you who read this probably don’t even know his name, but you owe the man a debt of respect.

You see, Bill LeVine opened a small print shop in 1943 and as the years passed and business changed, he recognized an emerging pattern. People wanted their print jobs turned around faster. Technology developments that included the AB Dick 360 duplicator and the Itek camera made it possible to produce most jobs overnight. The demand and the technology combined to form the perfect storm and the industry that became known as “quick printing” was born.

Now, LeVine wasn’t the only person who put two and two together and came up with cha-ching. In 1964, at about the same time he was franchising his first Postal Instant Press stores, which later became PIP Printing, an enterprising fellow in Minnesota by the name of Frank Schochet was franchising a concept called Insty-Prints. I had the honor of meeting both of these exceptional men and was always amused by the fact that conversations with either of them almost inevitably included a lecture about who was first to market. LeVine and Schochet were the fathers of the quick printing industry, but neither of them ever cared to share the title.

In the late 1960s another giant came onto the scene. He may not have been able to lay claim to being first to market, but he was a force to be reckoned with—in many ways. Bud Hadfield was the founder of Texas-based Kwik Kopy Printing and his presence in the field was felt throughout the industry. At one time, Bud had an ax to grind with Quick Printing magazine for reasons that have been lost to time and memory. But when Bob Hall took over as editor, he made a concerted effort to reach out to the franchising giant and mutual respect eventually developed into genuine friendship. Until the day he died, Bud was one of our biggest supporters.

Coming from California, Minnesota, and Texas, and running their businesses with very different philosophies, you might think that these three men had little in common. You would be wrong. All three were married to strong, independent women who were as much a part of their franchising success as they were. Each of them was quick to let you know how much they appreciated the talent and support of their wives. They were all brilliant, but gruff—sharp minds and equally sharp tongues. And they shared a wicked sense of humor, especially Frank Schochet who delighted in putting people on the spot to see if they were sharp enough to measure up to his very high standards.

I can’t tell you what a privilege it was to have met these men, and to have gotten to know two of them fairly well. You might get a better sense of them if I tell you that I always called Bill LeVine, whom I knew least, Mr. LeVine. Frank Schochet was Mr. Frank. And Bud Hadfield, as you might have noticed, insisted I call him Bud. They’re all gone from us now, but their legacy lives on. I stand on the shoulders of giants—and so do you.