Making Villanova Proud
A chance landscaping encounter brought Michael George into the career he was born for.September 2014 By Bob Neubauer
Ask Michael George what else he might have done with his life had he not become an in-plant manager and his answer comes quickly.
"I can't really see myself doing anything else," he proclaims. And after 15 years as director of Central Services at Villanova University, George has proven he has a knack for it. Under his watch, an in-plant that once struggled to recover costs and bring in customers has flourished, evolving into a trusted, busy operation boasting cutting-edge technology and exemplary customer service.
"I'm big on maintaining our reputation for providing good quality service at a competitive price," George declares. "People have the confidence just to come to us."
Back in his early days, though, the printing industry wasn't even in his sights. Born in Philadelphia, George attended East Stroudsburg University for three years before taking a break to work as a landscaper.
"One of the clients that I had as a landscaper owned M&M Graphics, which is a small commercial print shop," he recalls. "He hired me as an entry-level stripper."
Eventually George began running the shop's two-color Hamada. In 1991 he moved into the in-plant world when he took a job at American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
"I was hired as a press operator, and I left as a manager," he says. After running that shop for a couple years, Villanova asked him to help the Catholic university find a new in-plant director, and he worked with them as a consultant.
"They actually ended up offering me the job," he says.
With four kids to feed, he jumped on the opportunity to move to a larger university. That was in 1999. At the time, the in-plant had 11 employees and a mix of small offset and monochrome digital equipment, all situated in an old residence building on campus. He quickly discovered that because of the large amount of work being done off campus, the in-plant was not recovering its costs. He vowed to turn this around.
After analyzing the existing and potential jobs, George put together a business plan to upgrade equipment and train staff, initiatives that he felt would pave the path toward capturing more work.
"Fortunately, I got the support of senior management…to replace all the equipment," he says.