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The Best Printing of the Year

University of Minnesota won its first Best of Show award this year, while University of North Texas took home its third in a row.

July 2012 By Bob Neubauer
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When Jimmy Friend stepped onto the stage at last month's IPMA conference to accept the In-Print 2012 Best of Show award in the non-offset categories, he was on familiar ground. It was the third consecutive Best of Show award for University of North Texas Printing & Distribution Solutions, an achievement no other in-plant has attained.

"I just can't tell you how excited we are about this," he told IPG after accepting his award. "This is absolutely awesome."

Equally enthused was Dave Hoel, manager of Printing Services at the University of Minnesota, which claimed its first Best of Show victory this year in the offset categories.

"This is pretty exciting," he remarked after the ceremony in Kansas City. "I'm proud for all the people back in Minnesota. A lot of effort goes into this. The guys take a lot of pride in this piece." (Watch a video interview of both managers just minutes after accepting their awards.)

That piece is a colorful calendar, entitled "Minnesota Gardening," which features exquisite photographs of flowers and scenery from all over the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

UNT's award winning piece was a spiral-bound, 7x8.5˝ program for the South Asia Peace Conference, held at UNT. The in-plant printed it on its HP Indigo 5500. UNT also had something else to brag about: the Denton, Texas, in-plant won more total awards (10) than any other in-plant this year.

This was a huge accomplishment for an in-plant that, just a few years ago, was struggling to retain customers. When Friend started as director in 1995, the in-plant was in bad shape, with a reputation for poor quality and bad service. In the years that followed, he worked hard to change employee attitudes, improve processes and regain customer trust.

A humble man, Friend is quick to credit his staff for the turnaround and the subsequent run of awards. Their loyalty to UNT and dedication to the quality of their work, he insists, are what have earned the in-plant its substantial collection of In-Print awards—54 since 2004.

Friend also heaps praise on the other in-plants that have inspired him and his staff to try harder, such as University of Oklahoma Printing Services, which has its own long history of winning In-Print awards. Years ago, Friend talked with OU Administrator John Sarantakos to find out how his in-plant was able to win so many awards. Using these tips, Friend and his staff have chased OU for years in the In-Print contest, striving to do as well. This year, for the first time, UNT surpassed OU in the total number of awards, something that leaves Friend both proud and grateful.


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