There have been a lot of great influences in my life, which makes me a very lucky person – not to say that there weren’t many negative influences, but the good does outweigh the bad. However, few have taught me as much as my time at “Fran’s Print Shop.”
My boss’ name was Fran Whetten, a retired school teacher, she was in her early to mid-seventies and she had been in the printing business for 25 years. Not only was Fran a force to be reckoned with, but she was also a wealth of knowledge. I had only been out of the Navy for a year and a half when I went to work for Fran, and I worked for her for three years.
Even though my pay was not stellar, the information she gave me, and the management training that was imparted to me, have brought me a long way. Some of her principals which she impressed on me on a daily basis were ideas like: “Nothing is impossible, it might take a little bit longer or might be more expensive, but anything can be done.”
One way this principle was shown in action was with a client of ours called “The Windshield Doctor.” He had a difficult request; he wanted to have business cards with a deep blue background and yellow lettering. When you put blue ink on a yellow card, the background will come out green, when you put yellow ink on a blue card the words come out green.We spent literally months on this project, and finally came out with a correct card for the customer, and most of the expense was footed by Fran as a consideration for the client (and I think because Fran wanted to see the best way to get this done). Once this was finally done correctly, and the client left the print shop with 2000 cards – blue background, yellow letters. However, he was sued to change the name of his business, and closed shop.
Another idiom Fran would frequently quote was: “There are three things that are most important in life, family, health and happiness.” She made sure that if there was anything that interfered with this, she made it her mission to fix it.
Close to the end of my time at Fran’s, I became very ill. Fran was getting ready to retire, and the print shop was mostly in my control. She didn’t step foot in the building except for a couple of times a month. I didn’t tell her I was sick, but one of my press operators did, she came in and told me to go home. I started walking home (home was only about a mile away), and she saw me walking. She put a scarf over her nose and mouth, picked me up in her VW Bug and took me home. The next day, she saw me walking to work, so with the scarf employed as before, she escorted me home, and threatened to fire me if I showed up sick. I was off the next week, but came back strong
I left Fran’s, because she was retiring, as a parting gift, and “severance package.” She paid for me to go back to school. I left Fran’s but her teaching has never left me.