Celebrating John Klumb’s 50-Year Legacy in the Print World as He Retires

As we say goodbye to John Klumb, our VP of Sales, there’s a mix of feelings. Excitement for John as he steps into a well-deserved retirement, and gratitude for the invaluable contributions he’s made over his 50-year career in the print industry, including a significant 8 years with Nahan. Under John’s guidance, our organization navigated through several pivotal changes, affirming that his expertise has been instrumental to Nahan’s success.

While John gears up for his next chapter, we take a moment to delve into his extensive experiences and reflections on his 50 years in print.

Mike Ertel, our CEO, aptly articulates our sentiment:

“John Klumb’s impact on the industry is undeniable. With a career spanning five decades, he’s been a reservoir of knowledge and wisdom. Collaborating with John has been enlightening. He embodies the spirit of Nahan’s dedicated team. Thank you, John, for your immense contributions to Nahan and the broader industry. Wishing you a fulfilling retirement!”

What are three lessons you’ve learned about the industry over the course of your career?

  • Our Employees are our most important asset. Our competitors have essentially the same equipment and utilize the same processes.  What sets us apart is the knowledge, creativity, and attention to detail of our employees.
  • Our customers are the only people who pay us for what we do and as a result, we hold them in high esteem.
  • How we react when things go wrong and they do, even to the best of us. Differentiates us from our competition.  High quality and outstanding service is why our customers came here.  How we react when things go wrong is why they stay.

What have been the most significant changes you’ve observed?

  • The change in Pre-Press (Pre-Media) from a labor-intensive process of conventional 4/C separations, film assembly non standardized color proofing and photo sensitive plate making.  To Fully electronic, desk top based pre-media that incorporates, design, retouching and production utilizing standardized 4/C proofing and digital plate imaging.  This resulted in reduced cycle times and improved quality.  The very highest quality still dependent on electronic retouching done by skilled craftsman working in a controlled environment.
  • The demise of the printed publication (magazines).  The immediacy of information on the internet along increased price of paper and postage have all but killed printed magazines resulting in a huge reduction of high-volume printing.  There’s only one true high-volume printer left in the US with both web offset and rotogravure.
  • The explosion of ink jet printing.  Fifty years ago, it was recognized as an up-and-coming print process but was very limited in its use.  The most common application being applying the name “Sunkist” to oranges.  Besides the total variable high quality direct mail application that we employ, it rules the roost in large format printing from race car wraps to building sized advertising.  Ink jet is also a major player in the textile, packaging, and label industry with exponential growth.

What excited you most about your day-to-day activities?

  • Being part of a successful team.  Nothing feels better than when a plan comes together.  Be it a big sale, completion of an amazing project, adding a new process or achieving a company goal.
  • Working with our team and helping employees develop.
  • Helping solve problems.

Do you have any exciting retirement plans?

  • Reintroducing myself to my wife and family.  I maintained my permanent residence in rural Southern Minnesota while I lived in an apartment in St Cloud for the last 8 years returning home on the weekends.  Both of our sons are married, and we have 5 grandchildren from 2 to 16, so I have some catching up to do.
  • Become more involved in my community and Church.

What advice would you give younger employees working in the industry?

  • Embrace and celebrate change.  The only constant in the printing industry is change.  Nahan has been and will continue to be successful because its owners and leaders embraced changes as opportunities rather than bemoaning change and hoping the past would return.
  • Learn as much as you can whenever you can.  The more you know the more valuable you are to yourself and to your employer.
  • Enjoy the changes and variability that the print industry offers.  Every job you produce is unique and has its own challenges and rewards.  If you embrace that change and are not afraid to take the next step in the business, you will find long term fulfillment in your career.

As we bid farewell to John Klumb, we’re not just saying goodbye to an industry stalwart but also a mentor, leader, and above all, a cherished member of the Nahan team. John’s five-decade-long journey is a testament to resilience, adaptability, and an unwavering passion for the craft. As he steps into a well-deserved retirement, we wish him endless joy, memorable moments with his loved ones, and countless new adventures. John, here’s to new chapters and horizons. Cheers!