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Making It Better

Carl HansenI have been involved in my family’s third generation business for forty years.  Our family management team currently includes three family members from the same generation. Both my father and grandfather believed a non-family member with talent and ambition would never stay with a closely held company for any length of time because they would never be appreciated as an “insider.”

In a self-fulfilling prophecy, neither of them was ever able to experience that kind of loyalty and devotion that I have seen in our Staff members over the years.  It was an in-law family member who hired and embraced Carl Hansen over twenty years ago, and he became a key member of our company, management team, and ultimately our family.

Beginning in sales, and moving through production management, budget responsibility, and human resources allocation, Carl became woven into the fabric of Cushing. Armed with a High School education, a love of reading and an unquenchable curiosity, he began working at a variety of jobs while still young.  He honed his personal skills with an eye on being a successful business partner, selling everything from irrigation services to insurance until discovering his niche in the engineering printing industry.

And that is how we met – he targeted Cushing as a potential customer and we targeted him as a potential team member.

In many ways, we all “grew up” together.  The industry changed, technology changed, our company demographics changed, and on a personal level we began raising our own families.  We celebrated birthdays, contracts and successful years.  Eventually Carl became the first non-family General Manager of Cushing and ultimately Vice President of Operations.

As we turned the corner coming out of the recession of 2008-2009, it was Carl who crafted our “new” budgets, committed to increasing our Web presence and expanding digital press print on demand services. Carl always said he was in for the long haul, working on seeing the reinvented world in which Cushing would thrive.  And he was right – that new model is rising in front of us as we marry traditional services with investment in high quality collateral print products in all formats.

But Carl couldn’t stick around to see it with us.  It seemed implausible when he confided in the late fall that he was suffering from an inoperable cancer and would have to take some time to “deal with it.”  Even more impossibly, the cancer took him sooner than anyone could believe. To the end he was comforting those who were with him – his wife, sons, family, and friends – by insisting that he had enjoyed a wonderful life filled with love.

Our sadness at his loss is still too raw, but I wanted to post a tribute to him.  He was more than an “insider” – he was part of the heart and soul of our company.

And our lives and history are that much richer for having known him and had him in our family.

Cathie Cushing Duff

One of the third generation membership owners at Cushing, Cathie has been active in the organization since 1975. A graduate of the University of Toronto (St. Michael’s College) she attended the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Illinois School of Business. A Past President of the North Central Reprographic Association and International Reprographic Association, she has served on the ReproMAX Association and Chicago Family Business Council Boards. When not exploring print and digital communications, her passions are family, knitting and crocheting. Visit Cathie’s Google + profile.

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