The Learning Curve
One of NAPL’s primary objectives is to serve as a learning resource for industry employees, managers, and executives. In recent days the association lost two good friends who played an important role in helping NAPL fulfill that aim: Carl W. Didde and Terry A. Nagi.
Carl Didde began his career in the printing industry in 1936 as a “printer’s devil” in Emporia, Kan., and founded the Didde Publishing Company 10 years later. He saw a need for collating equipment and served as co-developer of the Speed-Klect Collator, upon which he built what ultimately became the Didde Corporation. The company employed a thousand people and manufactured printing equipment that was sold worldwide.
Carl Didde never stopped learning, inventing, or loving print―at the age of 94, he received a patent for a book binding method he invented in his 90s―and he never stopped helping others learn. He was the founder and sponsor of NAPL’s Carl Didde WorkPLACE Program, providing basic skills training for printing employees that helped advance the math, communications, and problem-solving abilities and the careers of hundreds of workers.
In 1994, Carl Didde was honored for lifetime achievement in the printing industry with NAPL’s highest honor, the Walter T. Soderstrom Award. When he died last month at the age of 98, he was described in his obituary as “a gentle man of faith and an entrepreneur at heart. He loved his family above all else and left a legacy of hard work, generosity, and love.” Those of us who had the privilege to meet him can attest to the accuracy of that description.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, where he also received an M.B.A. in Marketing, Terry Nagi was President of Terry A. Nagi & Associates/Digital Print Resources in Washington, D.C., for three decades until his death late last month. In his LinkedIn profile, he described the company as “a marketing consultancy dealing exclusively with the printing industries, providing pragmatic, application-oriented strategic direction” on strategic planning, sales training, customer service, and social media, among other topics.
As with his services, his knowledge of the printing industry was broad, and his roots in our industry were deep. He began as a sales rep and manager for Dataforms Inc. in Milwaukee and later was Director of Marketing for Western Publishing Company in Racine, Wis. He went on to serve an Executive Vice President of Printing Industries of America and Executive Director of the Graphic Arts Marketing Information Service (GAMIS), a PIA research arm that was the predecessor of Primir.
For a number of years he was involved in numerous industry conferences, special interest groups, programs, and research efforts, and wrote articles for more than a dozen industry publications worldwide. He later brought his experience and vision to the pages of several top-selling NAPL reports and books, including Exceeding Expectations, a handbook for customer-service reps; Strategic Sales Management, commonsense advice for sales managers; and Selling the New Breed of Print Buyers, his view of the new sales challenges and solutions for a changing industry. His crisp prose and keen insights helped boost the business success of his many readers.
Terry Nagi was nearly a quarter of a century younger than Carl Didde when he lost his long battle with brain cancer. In the foreword to Strategic Sales Management, he wrote of himself, “Readers of my articles, surveys, reports, and books know I prefer to be short, direct, and precise. I like to get to the point quickly, without excessive verbiage.” Those of us who had the privilege to work with him can attest to the fact that any point he was getting to would invariably be an astute one.
Both Carl Didde and Terry Nagi helped shorten the industry learning curve considerably for those who followed them. And as future generations continue to learn, invent, and advance the growth of graphic communications, their legacies will live on in the industry they both loved so much.
(Do you have reminescences of Carl Didde or Terry Nagi you would like to share?)