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for Gray Printing co. ( the title was partially missing)
Thursday, January 12, 1989


Pix #1 - A. Gordon Gray (deceased), son of George M. (second generation)

Pix #2 - George A. Gray

Pix #3 - James G. Gray

Pix #4 - Thomas Gray

Pix #5 - Robert Gray, son of George

Pix #6 - Scott A. Gray, son of Jim

Pix #7 - Lisa Gray Fisher, daughter of Tom

(Author's Note: today's POTLUCK in the fourth and final in the series about the 100-year-old Gray Printing Co., established by George M. Gray in 1888, in the same location where it is still located on E. North St.)

It isn't very common that a business or industry remains in the control and management of the same family for 100 years.

George M. Gray, the founder of Gray Printing co. was succeeded by son A. Gordon Gray as president in 1943.

Tuesday, morning, Oct. 31, 1967, Gordon Gray made his daily visit to his office. Even though he was an octogenarian, he continued to have an active interest in the business with which he had been affiliated for 60 years. He was in cheerful spirits when he dined at the Fostoria Country Club at noon with some of his fellow townsmen. Nobody noticed anything unusual upon his departure for home after lunch, but his wife found him sprawled on the living room floor when she entered the house at 3:30 p.m. He had been stricken with a fatal heart attack.

Had prepared for his succession

Gordon had prepared for the future. He had accomplished the objective fate had prevented his father from attaining. Gorgon's eldest son, George A., had already been installed as president.

After he resigned his army commission in 1945, George was appointed personnel manager and purchasing agent. He replaced his father as president in 1965 and became chairman of the board in 1981. George retired in 1986 to devote more time to his hobby, the Fostoria Historical Museum located in the abandoned fire station.

James G. Gray on management staff, too

Upon his discharge from the Armed Forces in World War II, Jim, as he was better known, entered the sales department at Gray Printing Co. after a work experience in the pre-press and offset press room

When Lester Kisabeth retired from the sales department, just before Gordon's death, Jim took over the sales manager's office and kept it until he became president in 1981. He succeeded his brother George as chairman of the board in 1986. No longer required to carry the burden of the presidency, Jim had more time to concentrate on the customer clientele he accumulated during his 40 years with the company.

President Thomas Gray keeps eye on production

Tom Gray, the youngest of the Gray brothers, joined the company in 1950 after graduating from Wooster College. After two years in the Army, he returned to the negative assembly department. Lester Switzer took on Tom as his understudy in 1954, and he was well prepared to assume the job of plant manager when Switzer unexpectedly died of a heart attack in 1958. Tom moved upstairs to the president's office in 1985 and continues to keep in touch with factory production.

Bob Gray - VP sales, marketing

After a four year hitch in the Peace Corps, and teaching in the public schools, Bob Gray joined the Gray staff as personnel manager under his uncle Jim's sales department.

Bob is presently executive vice-president in charge of sales and marketing

Scott, Jim's son, newest on Gray staff

Jim's son, Scott, studied petroleum engineering at Marietta College. At graduation he faced a depressed oil industry. His father suggested he work temporarily at Gray Printing. Once inoculated with printer's ink, he was hooked. Scott is serving as corporate secretary and is working into sales.

Gray board not family affair

For 75 years the board of directors at Gray Printing co. was made up only of family members. Eventually the company recognized the need for fresh viewpoints and additional expertise, and replaced family directors with outsiders. The current board of directors, half of whom serve the company in no other capacity, are: Lisa Gray Fisher, George Gray, James Gray, Robert Gray, Scott Gray; (outsiders) Von Boll, William Holliday, Frank Kinn, Donald Mennel.

Gray 100 years old, still progressing

If George M. was among those visitors who from time to time tour the Gray facilities, he would be proud of what he sees. The white brick on the building facing E. North St., is similar to that built in 1917, only with numerous additions, including Cadwallader St. property and all of the property to the railroad toward the east; also some property on the north side of North St. which is used for parking facilities.

Employees provide talents

There is one more very important aspect about the Gray Printing Co. as it relates not only to what goes on inside the Gray facilities but the people who have worked there. Those who contributed to the final product before it was completed and delivered.

George Gray, a third generation in the family, and still active, provided a list of employees of past years and up to the present. It was quite apparent to this author that there was not space for the complete list, so here it is for the year 1988, including mechanical, office, sales and supervisory. Sorry there is not space for the early years, too.

Karl Walters, Harold Owens, William McDaniel, Steve Thompson, Jeffery Hammer, John Machir, Frank W. Borer, James Brose, Robert Holderman, Toni Hill, Jean Roberts, Suellen Gehring, LaVonne Hipsher, Joy Pankurst, Loretta Mann, Charlotte Reffner, Roc Standish, Ronda Wedge, Bobbie J. Welly, Jennifer Cramer, Judy Wedge, Werner Cramer, James Willard, Kenneth McGuire, David Pike, James Abel, Michael Mitchell, Duane McVay, Fred Levee, Suzette Weiler, Joseph King, David Johnson, David Lorek, Elizabeth Welch, Donald Southward, Robert Reinhart, Judy Fruth, Kyle Glits, Judy Hermazn, Donna Hogan, Terry McDonald, Louise Wagner, Karen Buskirk, William Mansfield, Donald Lindhorst, Robert Carl Wagner, Richard McMorgan, Fraser Gilchrist, Willis Beck, James Emerine, Barbara Sams, Elmer Auer, Duane Buskirk, Ronald McClellan, Joel Crabtree, Diana Miller, John Valachovic, Richard Downs, Ralph Gilliland, Timothy Bliss, David Phillips, Ronda Roelle, Tim Reinhart, Byron Mann, Gerald Sams, Ralph Heaster, Wilbur Hall, Lynn Trautwien, Harold Young, Daryl White, Howard Richards, Craig Cole, Scott Finley, Martin Finley, Roger Hogan, Jerry Platt, Susan Holderman, Lawrence Smith, Malcolm Beck, Jerry L. Moses, Sr., Charles Fangboner, Thomas Calmes, James Etzinger, Brenda Bonawit, John Twiss, Claire Hanley, Glynn Joseph, Sr., Donald G. Correll, Daniel Ewing, Richard Fillhart, Terrance Meyers, David Holderman, Daniel Holman, Terry Hemrick, Michael Smith, Allen Brose, John Brose, John Harshman, David Dick, David Cramer, Terry Ward, Kenneth Sauber, Jr., Candy Kiser, Pete DiCesare, Sandra Lewallen, Richard Weissinger, Richard Graves, John Keith Risner, Clarence Campbell, Gary Welly, Margaret Deiter, Joan Filliater, Jane Chaney, Joy Zender, Deborah Kurcan, Eugene Zender, Barbara Sauber, Patricia Rumschlag, Faye Lombardy, Iris Jean Hastings, Theresa Harner, Becky Williams, Karen Brandeberry, Nancy Webster, Margaret Ellis, Barbara Hossler, Roger Bell, Joseph Emerine, Tina Droll, Carol Ann Goetz, Edria Tillotson, Daisy Cole, Eric Tyler, Mary J. Hubbard, James Walter, Kevin Wolph, Edward Forster, Helga Opitz, Donna Jean Smith, Bonnie Wertz, Carol Cramer, Anne Cramer, Penny Riggs, Kathy Dieter, Barbara L. Rice, Geraldine Barringer, Michael Tryon, Terry Baker, Charles Anning, Danny Allen Babb, Dean Barkley, Anne Clouse, Carol Creeger, Robert Etzinger, Jeannie Fairley, Lisa Fisher, Marvalene Fittro, Kelly Geyman, Phyllis Gilliland, James Gray, Robert Gray, Scott Gray, Thomas Gray, Ann Hoffman, Donald Kisabeth, Jack Lambright, Floyd Lawless, Mark LeVans, Kathy Lorek, James Main, Chris Massery, Darlene Mendoza, Sharon Mitten, Howard Ohler, Herbert Opitz, Gerald Puterbaugh, Leah Rader, Mazine Ramsey. Linda Reinhart, Sharon Reino, Bette Reiter, Judson Rinebold, Mike Shabel, Ross Stofflet, Harold Storrer, Jr., Russel Wice, and Michael J. Williams.

The Gray board of directors

Those business men and women, some on the inside and some on the outside, who keep the management team advised, and offset nearsighted views by not being so close to everyday problems. The current directors are Von Boll, president of Cummins, Michigan; Frank Kinn, retired president of Commercial Bank and Savings; Robert Gray, executive VP and sales manager; Scott Gray, secretary; James Gray, chairman of the board; George Gray, retired chairman emeritus; Don Mennel, chairman of the board, Mennel Milling Co., William Holliday, retired, Peggy Gray Candies; Lisa Gray Fisher, sales representative.

Heed God's word

Jesus said, "Lift up your eyes" ... Say not ye. There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? I say unto you Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." (John 4:35)

North America a mission field? Absurd, you may say. But it is true. A field, ripe for harvesting of precious persons for whom Christ died; a mission field stretching across North America is in view.

One of the largest and ripest fields today is teeming with refugees and immigrants from Asia. The area of our world with two-thirds of the earth's people. These Asian arrivals, especially the Indo-Chinese, are responsive to the gospel of Christ. They are eager to find love, acceptance and friendship.

Long Beach, Calif., is one of the places where the Church of the Nazarene is responding with laborers for this harvest of soul. About a decade ago, the first Asians began coming to Long Beach First Church of the Nazarene. The church has not been the same since. Today, the largest ethnic ministry of the church is well over 1,000 people.

The Asian Nazarene Bible College Extension is there also, training Asians to be pastors, teachers, evangelists and missionaries.



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Gray's positive outlook established steady growth
Thursday January 5, 1989


Pix #1 - This photo shows a view of the composing room at Gray Printing about 1935; that part of the mechanical department where moveable type and illustrations were put together to portray or explain a particular subject. George M. Gray is shown in the central portion, watching a printer make a copy on a proof-press. Gordon Gray is standing in the rear of the photo with his one arm on an open door. The photo was taken in an era when this author assisted in the composing room (part time) and was still employed by The Fostoria Daily Review.

Pix #2 - World War II veteran and employees of the Gray Printing Co., photographed in 1946. Top row (reading left to right): Cecil (Jack) Lab, George Buckley, Carl Wice, Bob Arthur, Elmer Auer, Glen Reinhart, Tom McDonel, Joe Quick. Middle row: Gene Rowe, Mac Baker, Ken Durnam, Mel Wetherell, Bill Ellis, George Gray, Gene Russell. Front row: Archie Dillon, Bill Brigman, John Crabtree, Emel Cool, Bob Pringle, Elaine Wilson, Jim Gray.

(Author's Note: Today's article is a continuation of the history of Gray Printing Co. since its inception 100 years ago. This is the third article in the series.)

Adversity came in triplicate for George M. Gray and his Gray Printing Co. during the early days of this century, followed by the disastrous fire, described in last week's article.

Sometime calamities breed opportunities. Rather than bemoan his misfortune, George M. Gray constructed a modern building, designed specifically for his business. Experts in the graphic arts industry admitted the new building was the most efficient printing plant they had ever seen.

Once the business was on its feet again George M., found more time to devote to community projects, a subject which will be covered in a later segment of this series.

Merton's death crippled staff The second member of the executive team was George M.'s oldest son, Merton Brevier. Joining the firm shortly after his return from a European trip, he became active in sales and administration. However, his association with the company ended in 1933 when he fractured his skull as a result of a fall down the basement stairs in his parent's home, and died the next day.

Other than George M., no individual influenced the development of Gray Printing co. more than Gordon Gray. He was practically born in the print shop where George M. set the pattern of building a business, and the business grew up with him.

The Gray Printing Co. was incorporated in 1902 with 5900 shares of common stock. Most of it was help By George M., with four outsiders, H. A. Tremain, W. C. Beckwith, W.O. Allen and Frank Ernest holding the rest. Later, Mr. Gray repurchased the rest of the stock. He and his descendants have remained the sole stockholders for seventy years and today still own most of the stock.

Personnel changes were necessary to rectify the adverse events of 1917-18. Jim had replaced Tom Hachet who had ably overseen production for years. The vacancy which occurred upon Jim's death was filled by a new superintendent, Lester Switzer. Officially sales manager, Gordon started taking over as general manager during his father's absences. Carrie Musser, who had served in various office positions, became office manager. Having grown up in the business, Howard Saunders replaced Gordon as head of the art and engraving department.

George M. started printer's school

Early in the twenties, George M. wanted a reliable source of trained printers. A school seemed to be the answer. He visited the Apprenticeship School of the Lakeside Press in Chicago and the United Typefounders's Academy in Indianapolis. He was ready to put his theory into practice.

The training school for printers was housed in a room next to George M.'s office. In addition to desks and chairs, and blackboard, type cases, a small modern platen press and imposing table were included. The course of study took four years to complete. The first six months were spent entirely in the classroom after which experience in the shop commenced. No tuition was charges; neither was remuneration paid during the first six months. Students of the school later became valuable employees in the Gray facility. The school was closed with the advent of World War II.

The successful training of its graduates vindicated George M.'s ingenious idea.

Kisabeth became sales manager

In the spring of 1924, Merton Gray visited Heidelberg college in Tiffin to see if he could procure its yearbook printing contract. During an interview with Aurora yearbook's business manager Lester Kisabeth, Merton learned he was considering getting a full-time job instead of returning to school in the fall. Merton suggested he apply to the Gray Printing Co. Kisabeth followed the suggestion and was hired as a proof-reader and production director. Those jobs proved too confining for the energetic young man. Soon he was on the road selling. Few salesmen matched his aggressiveness. Ten years after joining the company Kisabeth became sales manager.

Gray Printing took on photo offset process

In the late 1920's, Germany developed a process known as photo offset lithography. George M. read about this new technology and thought it could be incorporated into Gray's production facilities. Gordon stood firmly against experimentation. When his father persisted, Gordon told George M. there was neither room in the plant nor spare personnel for research and development.

Undaunted by his son's obstinance, George M. set up shop in 1932 in a company-owned house next door and installed a German made Rotaprint offset press that printed 43,600 impressions an hour on sheets up to 9 x 14 inches. In searching for "know-how", equipment manufactures, and other suppliers of ink and photographic supply houses were contacted, but none replied. It was a very secretive process. It turned out that Gray Printing had to learn by trial and error.

New Process set stage for growth

Ford Matthews, a member of the teen-age staff, became very adept in learning the offset process, so he became George M.'s right-hand man. They persisted for another year to learn the intricate process.

By October 1933 the technique was perfected well enough to move from research to commercial application. The newly named Gray-Lith Dept. was placed in charge of nineteen-year-old Ford Matthews under the guidance of George M., whose perseverance set the stage for future growth of The Gray Printing Co.

The photos with today's segment about Gray Printing Co. are glimpses from the past. The one being the primary methods of printing, dating back 50 or more years, with moveable type and sheet-fed printing presses. The other photo shows the composing room and mechanical staff who were skilled in the trade of the era.

Heed God's Word

"Unto the Hills" is the title of one of Billy Graham's books, of which I have a copy. Here are excerpts from the forward which may induce you to secure a copy of it:

"Our family has lived for many years in a comfortable log home in the mountains of N. Carolina, 3,200 feet above sea level. There is something serene about living in the mountains or on a hill.

When Jesus appointed the twelve apostles, He called them unto the hills and they came to Him (Mark 3:13). Our Lord frequently retreated to the hills or mountains for moments of solitude when the crowds became too great.

But as English devotional writer Oswald Chambers has noted, we were not made for mountaintop experiences alone. We are made for the valley of life.

God will sometimes allow us a view from the hills, but only so that we might be refreshed enough to return to the valley ... where the action is ... that we might better serve Him.

Graham's book provides answers to the problems in the valley of life. Others may need assurance as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death. God has not forgotten you.

(Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn. 1300 Harmon Place, Minn. Mn. 55403)



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