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Chris Barclay: Connected In Connecticut

Involving staff in decisions and focusing on customer satisfaction are the hallmarks of Chris Barclay's management style at Connecticut College Printing and Mailing Services.

May 2014 By Chris Bauer
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Ask Chris Barclay how he became interested in the printing industry, and he points back to 1976, his freshman year of high school. He remembers being hooked after taking his first graphic arts class.

"When I was a kid, my dad told me I had some choices," says Barclay, manager of Printing & Mailing Services at Connecticut College in New London, Conn. "He said you can go in the military, you can go to work, or you can go to college. Since nobody in my family had gone to college, I said 'I will go to college.' I picked the only college that I knew had a graphic arts program, Central Connecticut State University.”

After graduation, Barclay worked for commercial printers for several years, running presses, setting type and doing bindery jobs. In 1989, Barclay came across an ad in the newspaper. Connecticut College, located just minutes from his home town of Norwich, Conn., was looking for a new print shop manager. Barclay landed the gig and has never looked back.

But the job hasn't come without its challenges. When he started, the shop had a modest budget of $90,000. The equipment was outdated, and there were only about a dozen copiers on campus. Also, the in-plant did not have such a great reputation.

"My predecessors just weren't nice to people," Barclay explains. "Everyone was afraid to come to the print shop. It took me five years to do damage control."

Today, Barclay oversees a staff of four full-time, one part-time and six student employees and has a budget of $700,000. The campus has a fleet of 65 networked Canon copiers. The school's Camel Print system allows users to send documents from anywhere to any machine in the network. Users can even print from smart devices.

"For a little school, we really keep up with technology," Barclay states. Connecticut College is a private, liberal arts school with about 2,100 students.

The school's athletic teams, known as the Camels, actually have a connection to the in-plant, Barclay points out. A former print shop manager helped coach the college basketball team in the 1960s and picked the name of the college's mascot.

The shop started doing large-format printing about four years ago, Barclay says, and now produces 500 jobs per month, including road signs, athletic banners and parking signs for the campus.


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