From Temp to Manager
After working her way up from the bottom, Lori Fuller strives to continuously improve her in-plant at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.February 2013 By Bob Neubauer
Moving from California to Iowa is a big change. But in 1988, Lori Fuller was ready for it.
“I was kind of tired of California and the fast pace,” says Fuller, now manager of Printing Services at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC).
Plus, she admits, her boyfriend hailed from the Hawkeye State. So she put the beach behind her, enrolled at Iowa Western Community College and never looked back. Twenty five years later, now a full-fledged Midwesterner, Fuller oversees an in-plant staff of 16 at UNMC, one of the nation’s top ranked research and academic medical centers.
“I love coming to work every day,” she remarks. “There are good people here.”
It also doesn’t hurt that she’s working in a career she loves.
“I’ve always been interested in art,” she reveals. “Art is my passion.”
This passion is what led her to graduate with a graphic arts degree from Iowa Western, then take a temporary summer position as a typesetter at Omaha-based UNMC back in 1990. She was eventually hired full time.
“Not a lot of women doing film stripping back then,” she remarks. There would be even fewer to follow, as computers reshaped the prepress area and completely restructured the workflow.
After 10 years as a typesetter/composition specialist, Fuller was promoted to graphics supervisor in 2000. Six years later, she was made manager of Printing Services. She began this new task by taking an intense look at the in-plant’s services.
“We had to really upgrade our equipment and really take a look at what our customers wanted from us,” she says.
To help with this, she decided to survey them. The in-plant’s MIS vendor, Enterprise Print Management Solutions, in partnership with Survey Advantage, offered a surveying module called CustomerAlert. It allowed Fuller to select jobs, e-mail personalized surveys and track responses back to specific job orders. The detailed information she received revealed that the in-plant was losing a lot of four-color work due to its lack of a four-color digital press.
Into the Four-color World
After looking at all the options, the in-plant installed a Presstek 34DI direct imaging offset press in late July 2009.
“We had never done four-color,” she reveals.
The shop began printing brochures, newsletters, invitations and other four-color work that had previously been outsourced.
“We’re able to do work that we were not able to do five years ago,” she remarks.
Two years ago, the in-plant upgraded its digital printing capabilities with a Xerox Color 800 with a clear dry ink station.
“That is a beautiful machine,” Fuller declares. “It’s that niche between the DI and a color copier for that short-run [work].”
As a result, she says, Printing Services’ quality is top notch.
“I think our quality is excellent,” she affirms. The in-plant proved it by winning a Gold and a Silver award in last year’s In-Print contest. She is proud to have been picked to serve as an In-Print judge in 2012.
Fuller oversaw the creation of an online ordering system to make it easier for customers to send work. As a result, “80 percent of our ordering comes online,” she says.
Since assuming the manager’s role, Fuller has focused on improving customer service and marketing. She meets with customers regularly and the in-plant hosts open houses.
“Anything we can do to be up close and personal with our customers,” she says.
Still, she knows there’s always room for improvement, so a couple years ago she hired a consultant to analyze the operation.
“That was very eye-opening,” she says. As a result of this review, the in-plant has been able to cut down on waste, adjust its pricing and combine delivery services with the mail department to free up a bindery worker.
Always looking for ways to update its services, the in-plant now does e-mail blasts for customers after their printed publications go out. Fuller also hopes to add a digital envelope press and move into this new line of work. Her efforts to keep customers happy have not gone unnoticed.
“We have good support from upper management,” she says.