Keeping Print Alive

Running an in-plant just isn't enough for Gordon Rivera. On the side, he teaches the next generation of printers at Cal Poly.

Having turned an early interest in the graphic arts into a lifelong career, Gordon Rivera, coordinator of Campus Graphics at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, Calif., is still a big believer in the printing process.

Gordon_Rivera“I am going to take print to the grave with me,” he quips.

As a pre-teen, Rivera made a few extra bucks by producing advertising flyers for local landscaping companies. He had no formal training or access to desktop publishing equipment, so Rivera recalls cutting and pasting text and photos and using a copier to complete the projects.

“One of my first real jobs, when I was about 16, was doing layout for a classified magazine for a web printer,” Rivera says. “I did paste up, and that’s how I started in the industry.”

The California native continued with the craft after graduating from high school, learning all areas of the industry. He remembers two co-workers at a San Jose commercial shop getting hired as managers, even though they lacked any hands-on experience.

“I asked them how they got a management job, and they said they went to Cal Poly [California Polytechnic State University],” Rivera notes, pointing out that he quickly enrolled and earned a degree in print management. “It was ironic—I was busting my butt working when all I had to do is go to the school in the area.”

Rivera started at Allan Hancock College’s in-plant in 1996, admittedly taking a pay cut to get away from the long hours he was laboring through in the commercial printing industry. He wanted a better way of life, and feels he found the right place to settle down on the commuter campus of 10,000 students.

“I brought a commercial printing attitude—that quality is 100 percent important—into the nonprofit world,” Rivera contends. “And we always want to be entrepreneurial. We have to keep finding out what the college needs and how we can fulfill it.”

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