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Washington Puts People First

January 2002
State of Washington

Olympia, Wash.

Despite being one of the country's largest in-plants, the State of Washington's Department of Printing behaves much more like a small company in the way it treats its employees.

"We're very pro-people," remarks Dan Swisher, assistant director of the Olympia, Wash.-based operation. "We like to grow from within. We like to involve everybody in our operation. And we like everybody to have fun doing it."

To show employees how important they are, Swisher says the department's director, George Morton, visits each employee every single day. With 105 employees, that's a tough task, but the payoff is great.

Trying to run a $34 million operation might seem hard enough, without worrying about each employee's welfare, but the Department of Printing feels that satisfied employees are productive employees.

To keep them upbeat, the department is about to kick off what it calls Printing University (PRTU). Courses on topics like personal finance, customer service, management and leadership skills will be taught by both staff and outside speakers. The idea is to help employees feel good about themselves, Swisher says.

Employee pride recently got a chance to showcase itself when the department held an open house. About 200 people from almost 40 different government agencies, as well as from the private sector, visited the nearly 60,000-square-foot facility. They got a look at the department's new six-color, 28˝ Komori press, with a coater, plus its four-color, 40˝ Heidelberg and other presses.

"People were astounded," says Swisher. "They don't understand what it is that we do out here."

The employees gladly showed them.

"The most popular stop was the cutter," says Swisher, with a laugh. "I don't know why, but they just loved to watch the cutter."

Showing off the in-plant's capabilities is a great way to bring in new work, Swisher says. "It just opens the doors for a lot more jobs and a lot more opportunities for us," he says.

Not that the operation is hurting for work. With its main offset facility, plus 16 satellite copy centers covering a three-county area, the department gets more than its share of jobs. (One of its copy centers is in a community college, with which the department has partnered to teach students to run Xerox DocuTechs.)

The main facility handles everything from design and printing through bindery, mail and fulfillment. It outputs tourism brochures, House and Senate newsletters and schedules, business cards, post cards, posters, promotional material, maps, flyers, catalogs, license renewal notices and more for the state and county governments, as well as school districts. Not everything is printed in-house, though.


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