“It’s about time you start a blog…”
These were my wife’s words this morning during our daily morning Facebook chat. Since I travel all the time, this has become an important means of communication with my wife and daughter over the last years.
I am actually sitting next to my colleague driving from Milano to Castel Franco Veneto. That’s about three hours’ drive and a good time to put some words on the screen….
I was born, the youngest of 7 in a small village in Belgium. My father owned a printing plant and my mother a shop selling paper products, pencils and toys. As both parents where always working i was raised also by my oldest sister and the house hold help.
When I turned 11 I could go in to the print shop and do some stuff. My first big job was printing my own confirmation cards. Please note at that moment in time, DTP, ADOBE Illustrator and Photoshop where still only visions of Nostradamus.
I decided to have a 4 color screen print on the front side of the Chromolux card and a one color text in letterpress on the backside. The letterpress part went smoothly, but the 4 color screen print design proved to be a bit more challenging.
I made the 4 screens perfectly and started to print my first color on dad’s semi-automatic screen printing machine. The feeding and register needed to be done manually. I did not work precise enough so the first color and the second color did not match, with the third it started to look artistic and with the 4th color it looked like newly created art, roccocccccoooooococcooo.
So with lots of tears, effort and a couple of retries, i managed to make something acceptable to my father’s quality standards. My two older brothers who were already graduated as printing engineers helped me a bit, i have to admit.
I think it was during this period that the printing bug has bitten me.
Even though I wasn’t a good student, made my own choices and mistakes, growing up as a son of a printer led me finally to where I am now.
Climbing my way up in the graphic world I started at Modo Agency in a combined technical and sales function in 1993. After the merger with SCA we became ‘green MODO’ and then suddenly Metsa Serla took us over.
I got to know a different branch of printing. Packaging, with all its complexities like diecutting, folding, glueing,… seamed far more challenging than commercial print. I had to learn a lot and moved to Paris to transform into a technical specialist for the Beautycare segment of our company. I still wonder if got the job for my looks or for my knowledge 🙂
Three years later the company reorganized and I took a job as technical sales and marketing manager for containerboards. At that time i had no good knowledge of flexo, I even did not begin to understand the beginning and the end of a corrugator. But i was in for the ride and was going to prove to people our grades could perform with low washboarding and perfect printability. I owe a lot of my initial know-how and first successes to Pertti, my fluently ‘Finglish’ speaking predecessor.
Nine years later now, I travel to one or two corrugating plants every week to give them advice on both the corrugating, lamintating and the printing process. I encounter a wide range of equipment, from very old narrow machines with an integration of junk from different suppliers, to the state of the art 2.8 and 3.3 brand new BHS, and just the same when it comes to printing equipment.
As i have no engineering background (not in theoretic studies anyway) I tend look upon the process differently than colleagues.
I want flat board, without washboarding or honeycomb, even if we talk agriculture with three times parafine, semichemical and heavy brown krafts. Sure you can want this to. This is why I start this blog, to share some of my harvested knowledge and give it back where it came from, you corrugators or printers.