The Job that Keeps on Giving
Keith Hopson's love of printing eventually got him the job he was meant to have.January 2014 By Bob Neubauer
Keith Hopson’s career began the day he got his pink slip.
He was running the four-employee in-plant for Hydrotex at the time. The company’s new president, a former executive at Mary Kay, implemented some changes that resulted in a handful of layoffs. Hopson was one of the casualties. Rather than retreat into despair, though, he took some initiative.
“I just went into his office…and I asked him who he knew at Mary Kay,” Hopson recalls. “He gave me the director’s name [who] ran the in-plant.”
When he got home, Hopson called the director, securing an interview. That was in 1995. Eighteen years later, he considers his subsequent career at Mary Kay one of the highlights of his life.
“Mary Kay is the gift that keeps on giving,” proclaims Hopson, supervisor of Printing Services at the Dallas-based cosmetics company for the past eight years. “I love to come to work.”
Hopson’s love for printing began at an early age. Born in Tokyo when his father was in the military, but raised in Texas since the age of five, he and his twin brother, Kenneth, signed up for the printing program at Duncanville High School when they were juniors, “just to see what it was all about.” They loved it.
“We were privileged to have three hours of the day in the print shop,” Hopson says. He even spent his summers working there on the ABDicks and Multiliths. His instructor, John Morgan, took him under his wing and, after he graduated, found him a job in the in-plant at a pool supply warehouse.
“I owe that man a lot of credit,” Hopson says.
After six months there, a friend from the Duncanville print program got him another in-plant job at the Harris Corp., in Dallas. He worked there for four years.
After a couple of jobs with commercial printers, Hopson took his first management position in 1990, at the Hydrotex in-plant. Four years later came the layoff that launched his Mary Kay career.
Hired as a print buyer for Mary Kay’s in-plant, he also served as a production coordinator, writing work orders, answering customer queries and running the shop when the supervisor was away.
“I wore a lot of hats in that position,” he says.
In 2005, just months after moving the in-plant to its current location, Supervisor Larry LiCausi retired.
“He was a great mentor,” praises Hopson.
Promoted to supervisor, Hopson began modernizing the 14-employee in-plant. First he added computer-to-plate equipment, followed by a Halm Jet envelope press to bring envelope printing in-house. Next came a Bell & Howell inserter and a Vijuk folder.
In 2008, Mary Kay shifted the printing and folding of “pharmaceuticals”—the inserts that accompany its skin care and cosmetics products—from outside printers to the in-plant, dramatically increasing its workload. Hopson moved staff, added overtime and installed a new folder to handle the work. The shop now has three pharmaceutical folders, one with a right angle.
Joining Forces With Digital
Last year, the in-plant took over Mary Kay’s digital image center, a separate operation run by an outside vendor, which prints statements, letters and checks. Hopson hired Pete Flores to oversee that operation.
“I saw some opportunities for cost savings,” Hopson says. Now he is able to send work to that facility that is better suited to digital printing.
“It’s a great partnership,” he says.
To capture the wide-format printing work that was being sent out, Hopson added a 12-color, 60˝ Canon printer. He is confident this will be a growth area. He also has his eye on job submission software to help bring more work into the in-plant.
Emulating Mary Kay’s focus on making people feel important, Hopson strives to recognize his staff for accomplishments and make them feel appreciated. He’s proud of the team atmosphere in the in-plant.
“Our morale is very high,” he observes. “I’m very proud of how my team comes together every day.”
Hopson, who is actively involved in company safety and recycling programs, is happy with his choice of careers and of the impact he’s made at Mary Kay, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in September.
“I love my job so much,” he enthuses.
Though Hopson admits his three children aren’t likely to take up printing, his twin brother Kenneth did stick with it, and now runs a missionary print shop in Uganda. Keith Hopson and his wife Janna, an interior designer, are active in their church, where Hopson plays percussion in the church orchestra. He also loves sports and is an avid Texas Rangers fan.